The Sixth Annual Italian Renaissance Costuming Challenge

April 14 to August 14,  2016


Hi, this is my second attempt at Italian Renaissance. I have been in the SCA for about six years, but my costuming experience has been with English and generally in the medieval period.

The outfit I am looking at creating is inspired by this gown. I aim to create a camicia, a gown with laced-in sleeves and a petticoat. As accessories I will be making a balzo and partlet.

Anne Busby
Western Australia

May Update

As the fabric was available I made the underskirt/ petticoat first. I made it red as there are records of red skirts being passed on in wills. While they would have been made of silk or linen, I making mine using cotton fabric. The fabric was cut to about four metres in length, with a strip cut of the remainder for the waistband. I hand stitched a hem on each end of the length of fabric.

To ensure the pleats were as even as possible, I put pins in the waist band at the hem allowance and in the middle, and then kept dividing the sections in half, by folding and putting a pin at each fold, until the pins were an about three centimetres apart. I then did the same to the skirt, making the same number of sections. The pins were matched up, which gave me the pleat placement. Due then the amount of fabric in the skirt, rolled pleats seem to work best.

The waistband was then attached to the skirt using back-stitch. The waistband then was hemmed and folded over the skirt and the draw string tucked and then fastened down using whip stitch. The sides of the fabric were then whipped stitched together to make a tube.

June Update

This month I was working on my camicia. I cut the pieces out of some handkerchief linen, using the image on this page as my guide.

I hemmed the pieces, by hand using a stitch Mum taught me: looking at the pictures I think is slip-stitch.

I then pleated the cuffs to fit my wrists and the top of the front and back panels and the sleeves tops to fit my bodice pattern. The pleats are stitched down using 2 rows of back stitch. I used the following article as my guide to this techinque: 'How to Pleat a Shirt in the 15th Century. B. Nutz and H. Stadler, Archaeological Textiles Review No. 54.'

Once the pleats are all stitched down the pieces will be sewn together using overcast stitch.

Right side

Wrong side



I'm working on embroidered bands for the cuffs and the neckline. I did some sample pieces using DMC No. 8 thread, and stem stitch and split stitch, but the effects were too thick. I tried double-running stitch with 2 strands of
DMC cotton, and the effect was better for the weight of the linen.

July Update

I did not make as much progress as I hoped, life got in the way.

What I did get done, was to add three lines of back-stitch on the camicia pleats and sewed the pieces together using whip-stitch. It is definitely easier to do gussets by hand.

The embroidery for one cuff has been completed, and the second cuff started.

I would have normally finger braided some cord for the cuff ties but due to my frozen shoulder I'm unable to do finger braid, so I made some buttons instead.

The bodice of the dress has also been cut out.



August Update

The Hat

As I could not find any pictures showing the back of this hat, I choose to taper it, as the pictures should the hat disappearing more than just wrapping around the back of the head would account for.

I backed the silk with calico, to give it the strength to cope with the stuffing. The ribbon goes through the length of the hat so the tension, when the hat is tied, is not just on the ends of the silk.

I choose to stuff my hat with modern poly-filling. In period it probalaly would have been stuffed with the bits of wool that were unsuitable to be spun.

I decorated the hat by hand sewing a ribbon around it, and then sewing the fittings and pearls.

The Partlet

As the partlet is made from a fine translucent fabric I sewed the shoulder seams by machine. I sewed down the seam edges by hand, then finished the edge by doing a rolled hem.

I then, using overcast stitch, sewed a narrow band of cotton tape around the bottom of the partlet. I sewed it all the way around, as I did not think the corners would supported the ties. (As a photo of the finished partlet has not been provided by the deadline, this item will be considered incomplete).

The Camicia

I managed to complete the embroidery for the cuffs and the front of the chemise. To make the button loop, I made a loop by making a large stitch over my finger and the covered it with button hole stitch.

The Dress

I sewed the two halves of the bodice together, and hand appliqued the stripes on to the bodice and then completed sewing the bodice together.




When sewing the two halves of the sleeves together, I used a french seam, as the silk likes fraying. As with the bodice I then appliqued the stiripes on the sleeves and the sleeve puffs, then added the puffs to the sleeves.

Sleeve puffs

Sleeves - sewing on stripes

Sleeve with puff

The skirt is made from eight alternating panels of fabric, sewn together using french seams. I tried to gather it to match the inspiration picture, but could not get it to fit, so ended up doing rolled pleats to fit the skirt to the bodice. While it does not match the picture, I like the way they turned out.

The Finished Outfit

Layer 1: The Camicia

This is completely hand sewn, with hand made buttons and embroidered bands for the cuffs and front.


Layer 2: Under-Skirt

This is completely hand sewn, with rolled pleats. It is currently too long for this over gown, so I will be added a tuck in it to shorten it and it will also help stiffen the skirt.

Layer 3: The Dress

This was sewn using the sewing machine for the bodice and skirt seams. The bands, arm holes and hem are hand sewn. The hem needs to redone with felt, so that it sites better, and I need to fix the lacing rings so that they sit better.

Layer 4: Accessories

1. Hat

2. Partlet (Incomplete - no photo of the finished item was sent by the deadline).