The Seventh Annual Italian Renaissance Costuming Challenge

March 1 to June 30,  2017



Georgia, USA


I have been costuming for 15 years, but 9 years ago I discovered my love of 16th century Italy and joined the Society for Creative Anachronism. There I am known as Mistress Alessandra Giovanna Fioravanti. For this challenge I plan to make the outfit in " Woman with a Lute" by Alessandro Allori, approximately 1570.

My proposed layers are as follows

Colletto (Partlet )
Sottana (Under-dress)
Giubbone (Doublet)
Veste (Over-gown)
Tasca (Pocket)

Weaving completed in advance of registration :

Linen tape
2 yards

Gold scroll trim
15 yards

Single picot trim
4 yards

Gold Petersham
10 yards

Embroidery, 1/4 complete

The Completed Outfit

Everything finished before the end of the challenge was done entirely by hand with the exception of the trim on the edge of the pink veste. Body of the veste trim was sewn by hand. All eyelets and button holes were also done by hand.

Woven by hand:
22 yards of silver trim
6 yards of linen tape
5 yards of gold petersham
30 yards of gold scrolling trim
1.5 yards of green cotton tape
5 yards blue cotton tape
( The silver picot trim made before the start was not used.)

Hand made lace: 7 yards silver

Gold thread wrapped buttons; Silk thread wrapped buttons; Gold fingerlooped button loops.

Layer 1: Colletto/Partlet, Complete

Layer 2: Sottana/Under-dress, Complete

Layer 2 Extra: Giubbone/Doublet, Complete

Layer 3: Veste/Over-dress, Incomplete

Layer 4 Accessory: Tasca/Pocket, Complete

Final Update

This month has been very busy! I got the opportunity to attend two Modern Maker Workshops and learned how to use the Bara system to draft patterns as well as tailoring and sewing techniques that were put to use immediately.

First up, 20 yards silver-plated and silk trim was woven.

The doublet is made of silvery cream silk satin, interlined with linen and wool, and lined in linen. The pattern was drafted based on layouts in Freley's Tailors manual. After marking the sleeves for trim placement, each line was basted in place. The trim was applied using a combination of back and running stitch using silk thread. After pad stitching the doublet was shaped by stretching and shrinking to achieve the desired shape (this process is detailed in The Modern Maker Vol. 1). Seams were sewn with linen thread using back stitch at the collar. the shoulder and side seams were sewn from the outside using prick stitch and silk thread. The linen lining was sewn in place using whip stitch.

Buttons were made using silk thread wrapped around a wooden bead, The same silk thread was used to sew the buttonholes.

A photo of the sottana which was completed last month.

Sadly I was unable to complete the veste by the deadline. It was close, but I decided I would rather finish this garment well rather than push and do it poorly.

An additional 20 yards of gold trim was woven . Thread wrapped buttons were made using the same gold thread, as well as finger-looped cord for the button loops.

The gown itself is also based on a draft in Freley's manual. Thanks to the workshops, I was able to understand the markings and the mock-up fit the first time!

The outer fabric is a red and white shot dupioni, interlined in the bodice area with linen with wool, lined in thin red silk taffeta that matches the trim on the doublet. the assembly is almost identical to the that of the doublet minus the sleeves. The gold trim has been sewn on using a combination of running and back stitch. Seams under stress were done with back stitch only while running and back were used in the remainder of the seams.

The pocket is finished. The outside is silk interline in wool felt with a linen lining. 2 yards of cotton tape was woven for the tie. The applique is done by using hide glue in combination with cotton paper to affix the leaves to the fabric, this can been seen in a German loose gown in Patterns of Fashion 2 by Janet Arnold. Doubled gold thread is then couched down around the leaves. Back stitch with linen thread was used to sew the outer layers together. Running stitch for the linen lining.

Third Update

This month I made the sottana! The fabric is silk in turquoise shot with white which achieves a lovely silver blue tone. The bodice fabric layers are : silk, wool, glue stiffened linen, wool, linen.

The interlining has been stiffened with hide glue I reconstituted from granules. This thin glue was then painted and left to dry . The result is similar in feel to modern buckram. Because hide glue reconstitutes in humidity , this layer is sandwiched between layers of wool to keep the glue from soaking through to the silk or lining. This interlining layer is sewn together at the straps and the seam allowance is trimmed away.

The silk layer is sewn at the shoulders and the trim is applied using combination of running and back stitch. The gold trim was handwoven from faux gold thread and cotton before the start of this challenge.

The silk layer is then wrapped around the interlining layer and affixed with prick stitch. The lining is sewn in with slip stitch using the same silk thread as is used for the silk layer.

The skirt panels are sewn together with a run and fell seam to prevent the unraveling of the fabric.


The hem is finished with a strip of thick wool felt and a tuck four inches above. Both of these techniques aid in stiffening the hem and preventing skirt collapse. The skirt is then attached using 1/4 inch cartridge pleates.

With the sottana finished, I moved on to the doublet. I was able to weave 11 yards of trim this month. It is made from silver plated , copper and silk threads. I also wove 4 yards of light blue cotton tape for the laces.

Second Update

The partlet is finished!

The main parts of the body were sewn together with a running stich then felled with whip stich on the insides.

The ruffle was gathered , using 60/2 linen thread. with two parallel rows of running stiches making tiny cartridge pleats. The collar was then attached with waxed 80/2 linen thread using small whip stitch on each of the pleats.

Linen tape woven before the start of IRCC was used to make the ties at the neck. An additional 4 yards of linen tape was woven this month for the ties around the body.

While I have been doing 16th century clothing for a long time, this was my first time doing a ruff style and I found it to be amazingly rewarding though more time intensive than I had thought. I look forward to playing with starch to set the collar!

First Update

For the first part of this challenge I started with the partlet. The fabric I used is an extremely sheer linen. The portrait is hard to decipher as it's not a photograph, but I believe it is edged in silver bobbin lace with a decorative running stich in red.
(Woman with Lute, Alessandro Alori)

The strips of linen are cut along the width of the fabric and are sewn together using a whip stich. The hem is 1/16" and finished with a running stich at 18-20 stitches per inch using 80/2 linen thread.

This was my first time making lace and I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge! I have made 7 yards so far and I believe it will be enough for both the partlet and cuffs.

The silver bobbin lace is then attached with the same linen thread with whip stitch. 50wt red silk thread is used for the decorative running stitch.

I'm excited to start gathering it!