The Seventh Annual Italian Renaissance Costuming Challenge

March 1 to June 30,  2017



Queensland, Australia


My name is Zacharlija Standish and I come from Queensland in Australia. Since finding the SCA in late 2013 I have avidly tried creating renaissance Italian dress. I've been following the IRCC since then and have finally plucked up the courage to enter.

I have recently fallen in love with the doublet dresses of Florence from the late 16th century. The outfit I am planning is inspired by a 1565 portrait by Santi di Tito, 'A Young Woman'. The proposed layers are:
Layer 1- camicia
Layer 2- underdress
Layer 3- doublet style dress
Layer 4- hat & snood or veil, a pocket, a partlet and sleeves.
I am also hoping to create a pair of gloves and drawers to go with the outfit, although time may prove my enemy here.

Third Update

Not as productive a month as I was hoping. Work on the embroidered sleeves of the chemise I had planned were taking far longer then I expected due to several reasons. I'd hoped to get them both finished this month, but I've yet to finish off the first properly. So that's been put into time out.

Instead I chose to make a plain chemise, similar style to the one I had planned, but without the embroideries and such. But of course, that would be too easy and I stuffed up when sewing it together. I forgot to add the side panels and it's ended up being too small around the hips. I didn't have the heart to unpick it, so I'll slash up the front and back and add the panels there instead next month. I kind of forgot to take pictures of this process too, so there's only the one of me just about to sit down and sew it all up. Oh the optimism I felt at this stage!

I have finished the silver dress! After being plagued with misfortunes, I bullied the dratted eyelets into working, bound them in grey silk to look better, and then hand stitched the not quite seven metre long rolled hem. Have I mentioned I hate hand stitching?...

Sleeves, because I never can have just one project on my workbench. Instead of fixing the chemise, I decided to see if I could get a pair of sleeves done by the end of the month. Not quite, but I've almost finished putting together a lovely pair of black velvet sleeves that may just hold up to fighting in as well (SCA rapier). I've interlined them with calico and lined with drill, hopefully enough to pass the tests and be comfortable enough to fight in. All that is left to do on them is bind the top with bias binding and stitch down a bit of trim along the long hems.

Second Update

This was a slow month for progress, had various plans and trips take up most of the time. I did manage to make a start on the chemise, starting on the sleeves which will have simple embroidered motifs scattered over, similar to shirts and chemises in museums. I've half finished one sleeve, the hardest part was marking the placement of the pattern.

I tried to get the silk under dress finished, finished the hand sewing and was nearly finished with the eyelets before the tool broke. I thought about finishing the rest off without the modern eyelet base, then decided it wasn't something I was comfortable with. I will get a new punch and finish the dress off next month.

With all the delays I still managed to get the pocket finished. The trim and embroidered griffin stitched well, I was happily sewing it up on the machine and started getting this horrible feeling that I'd stuffed it up. Check pattern, pieces, method, its all there and okay...then I discovered that I'd stitched an opening into the back as well. Then part of the opening seam pulled. I'd made it too small.

I left it in the disgrace pile for a few days, trying to think of how to fix both problems. In the end I settled for carefully sewing the back together, which has left a bit of an unsightly 'scar', but isn't as bad as I feared. The seam I fixed by doing a small pattern around. Carefully stitched the rip, then went over it in a simple pattern with silk floss in double running stitch. Turned out much better than I'd hoped and had the added benefit of securing the entire opening edge. I've wiggled and worried at the seam and its hasn't budged at all. The tie is simply a bit of bias tape folded and whipped down.

First Update

I decided to start off with the drawers, they conveniently fit with a local competition and let me tinker around with slashing, which I'd never done before.

Limiting myself to what I had in my fabric stash already I settled on a fancy pair in dark red satin with a cotton lining. I first drafted out a pattern from studying extant sets and working from several patterns I had. I then cut out the satin and decided on a slash pattern I had seen in an illustration. I used a craft knife blade and made the slashes. I've left them unsealed as a bit of an experiment to see how badly the fabric frays. I'm thinking the satin might make a nice set of sleeves for this outfit instead of the velveteen I'd originally planned.

I stitched the ribbon trim on the sides by hand, put it together as much as I could on the machine, then finished sewing down the waistband and leg hems by hand. Punched modern eyelets in then went over them with silk floss.

Added a shoelace tie and voila! Done in 10 days.

I then moved onto several of the smaller pieces I knew I could do or would take time. I simultaneously started the hat and pocket, stitching plastic jewels onto a strip of bias for the hat band and sewing down the trim for the pocket. The pocket hasn't progressed as far as I'd like yet, the trim isn't quite secured but will be finished in the next month. Then I can start work on the embroidery for it.

The hat I have finished. I stitched down the jewels, then tinkered with a hat pattern in the Tudor Tailor book until I was happy with it. Its a bit bigger than the ones I've seen in portraits, but I prefer the added sun protection. Again I used the machine, then finished off the inner brim by hand, threading the stiffened felt in the brim towards the end. Two feather pins were put together using the plumes, aglets and a glue bath. The band was sewn on by hand while the glue set and then the aglets were sewn down as well.

I nearly finished the under dress by the end of the month. With the help of a good friend I refitted my go-to bodice pattern and gave it a test run on a few other dresses. For this I used a silver silk I've been hoarding for a special project, with calico and drill for interfacing and lining. Its not as stiff a bodice as it should be, however I preferred a lightweight dress for summer to one with added layers or boning.

The bodice was sewn up, the skirts put together and gathered. Pleating was considered, then dismissed in favour of speed and ease. (I had tried pleating it three times, it just did NOT want to co-operate.) Half the skirt is hand sewn down, with just the front piece to go on. Once that is finished, I'll put the eyelets on and hem it.