The Sixth Annual Italian Renaissance Costuming Challenge

April 14 to August 14,  2016


My name is Whitney Giboney from Washington, United States. I am rather new to sewing, about 6 years, I mostly sew 14th century English for my family and I. I have never sewn an Italian Renaissance Gown before so that make me a novice.

I am basing my outfit on the Paolo Caliari portrait of Countess Livia da Porto Thiene. I plan of making an under gown 1550's in style, in red silk dupioni with sleeves. I will be making a set of drawers in light linen possibly with embroidery if time allows edged with lace. I will be finishing a camicia I started previous as well (not to be counted). My outer layer will be a zimarra in either wool with fur edging or silk lined with fur (faux) still not completely sold on which fabric I should choose yet.

As for Accessories: I plan on making a partlet out of linen with lace edging and pearls. I also want to make a jeweled zibellino head. A girdle of pearls. gold fittings and and some type of stones. I also plan a snood if time allows.

Whitney Giboney
Washington, USA

May Update

This has been a tough month for me, I have struggled with not having a well fitting pattern and not liking my chosen fabric.

I started by cutting my drawers out of a fine weight linen, I cut them about eight inches too small, and ended up having to put a panel in so I didn't waste the fabric.

Then I cut and assembled a new set. I decided to do some embroidery along the bottom edge and have been spending my free time chugging along on that.

My bodice pattern was based off something cut for someone else that I tried to modify, so I found after I put it together that it doesn't fit. I also don't care for the material, I have never worked with silk taffeta. Another set back I'm having is that I am unhappy about my chosen silhouette, I convinced myself I needed to scale back what I wanted to do because I was a novice at Italian garb.

After arguing with myself about this I have decided to go a direction I think will make me happier and more likely to finish. So I'm switching to a ladder laced gown and something with the sleeve cut outs (if I have time) or regular sleeves if I don't. Paolo Caliari (Veronese), 1560s: Portrait of a Woman is my new inspiration, I have ordered a set of Margo's patterns to give me a better idea and direction, and I have a few swatches of silk coming so I can decide on a new color. I have half assembled a camicia that was pre-cut before the challenge, and plan to finish that in the next few days.

June Update

This month has been busy busy, I started by picking new fabrics, I chose a nice purple/red duponi silk, and a purple and brown brocade. I'm much happier with this over the red silk.


I started this month by getting help from a friend drafting a new pattern for my bodice that fit correctly. I also ordered Margo's' Italian Gown pattern set, this has been so helpful. The directions are helping me get all the pieces together correctly. I decided to use Margo's flat-lining technique, and zip ties as boning. I also decided to do my bodice the way I saw in Morgan Donner's blog, which is a base fitted bodice with the fashion fabric laid over the top and stitched on. but I haven't gotten to the outer fashion fabric yet.

Due to an unforeseen two-year-old-with-Kool-aid-incident, I had to cut out a new camicia and sew it together. So yay I get to count a new camicia as one of my layers, boo I had to make a new camicia. Anyway I assembled that out of some fine weight unbleached linen, using basic rectangular construction. I gathered the neck line and put a bias strip there that I will hand stitch down. I also will hand stitch the cuffs and the hem. After I took the picture with my bodice on though, I am questioning the height of my camicia's neckline. And may undo the bias strip and regather the neckline.

As for the bodice I have flat-lined it, added the zip ties and sewn the lining to the outer lining piece. I have also laid out where my lacing strips will go. I tried the bodice on with my camicia and I need to take in the sides about a half inch so that I have a narrow gap at the bottom of my bodice that tapers a little bit more as it goes up. I also cut the rectangular pieces for the under skirt out of the silk and the rectangle pieces of brocade to gather on to the bottom of my bodice.

Next up I plan to get the bodice and skirts finished and get the partlet cut and assembled as well.

July Update

I finally feel like I have gotten some things done this month. I started with hand stitching the cuffs and hem of my camicia, and picked apart the neckline to regather it lower but need to finish my over gown before I can finish that.

I sewed together my under-skirt and it is waiting a hem but I want to finish attaching the skirt to the over gown before I hem that.

I have cut and sewn my sleeves together and added the pearls to hold the three piece sleeve together. I put the pieces I had mostly finished on my husbands dummy form, my duct tape double deflated in the wrong places, so It doesnt look quite right but I like to use this set up for hemming my dresses as it is the right height. So far I'm happy with the way things are coming along.

I also managed to get an accessory done. I wanted to try my hand at drawn thread work, so I started by making a handkerchief before trying it in a larger scale for my apron.

I finished the cuff piece for one leg of my drawers and am half way through the second. Then I can attach them and add a bit of lace.

I have a black wool to use for my over coat, and once the bodice and skirt are finished I plan to start that.

August Update

This month I finished all of the things...obviously. I finished my drawers and the embroidery to go on each leg. I also re-gathered the neckline on the camicia, hand-sewed the neck bias tape, and also hemmed my under-skirt and attached a closure.

I gathered the skirt and attached it to my bodice. I chose to do a random gather as opposed to a cartridge pleat, because I like the random look better. I made a lucet cord for my gown lacing from pearl cotton. I have also attached ribbons to the tops of my sleeves and rings to the bodice to tie them on to.

I made my coat out of a black wool using a rectangular construction pattern. I wasn't going to line it but it was itchy. I ended up having enough silk left over from the underskirt to line the coat with. The silk also makes the coat hang much nicer. I attached a faux red/black tinted fur to the coat front and neck line, and hemmed it by hand. I am super happy with this piece and I will likely wear it in the SCA often.

As for accessories, I started and finished an apron. I did drawn thread work along the bottom and sides and attached a pre-made lace piece to the bottom edge. The apron is done all by hand sewing.

I also managed to string a pearl necklace out of ivory, purple, and a few grey glass pearls I had. I made a veil, but decided when it was time to take my pictures I didn't like the look of the veil and how it hung. After some research I should have attached a hair comb to help it stay in my hair and lay better. When I took my pictures I added false hair into my own to create fuller braids to give my hairstyle a better look, and it was much easier than I thought it would be.

The Finished Outfit

Layer 1: The Camicia

Extra Item: Drawers

Layer 2: The Dress

Extra Item: Under-Skirt

Layer 3: The Over-Dress

Layer 4: Accessories

1. Apron

2. Handkerchief

3. Necklace