The Eighth Annual Italian Renaissance Costuming Challenge

April 1 to July 31, 2018


Beatrice de Moreby
California, USA

My name is Beatrice de Moreby. I reside in California, U.S.A.

I am a novice in Italian Renaissance costuming, but not a novice to sewing. Ever since I seriously started following blogs that revolved around historical costuming, the SCA, and art history I have seen posts detailing entries to various historical costume challenges. Those challenges just seemed so fun. I'd already been overhauling my SCA persona and had settled on 1480-1500 Florence as my new period/region before finding this challenge, and I am so excited to participate. My planned outfit is inspired by the Annunciation of San Martino alla Scalla by Sandro Botticelli in 1481, though not meant to be a reproduction of it.

My proposed outfit:
1. A Camicia
2. A Gamurra (with sleeves)
3. A Giornea or Cloak
4. A set of two necklaces, and possibly a hair net and/or a pocket.

The Completed Outfit


I learned so much from doing this challenge. Next time I won't use such stiff cotton for my camicia. It's thin cotton, but it's stiff. I cut the sleeves with too little volume when trying to combat that stiffness. The gussets I used were actually too small! I only realized that a few days ago.

Triple check that all fabric has been pre-shrunk, especially the lining fabric (I forgot!). Always make sure to have enough beads before starting a project. It's okay to (carefully) cut into the pretty wool!

I did sleeves for the first time! I've been heavily avoiding them and living in a hot area has helped with that. They are no longer so scary.
It's less scary to add in a back panel (to combat washing shrinkage) than I thought it would be. Pockets are awesome! The cap is pretty, but not quite right.

Pictures, pictures, pictures! ALL the pictures!
There are so many things I plan on fixing up in this outfit later, and there are so many things I plan to do differently on my next outfit.


Layer 1: Camicia



Layer 2: Gamurra (Incomplete)



Layer 3: Giornea (Incomplete)



Layer 4, Accessories: Set of Necklaces, Pocket, Cap, Belt (Incomplete)



I will be re-drafting my sleeves pattern. These ones didn't allow enough poof to show through, and wouldn't have even if I had had poofier sleeves. These were also a little constricting and I'm sure I could improve on that. The current sleeves are going to be slightly de-constructed and re-made to allow more poof.
I will remember to triple check my fabric has been pre-shrunk...
I still need to smooth some of the excess fabric on the back panels of the gamurra into the arm holes.
Making a second pocket to pair with my current pocket.
I will cut the front of my next giornea a little different.
I'll be adding more trimmings. While my original inspiration image was very modest, I now yearn for some pretty trim on my next Gamurra.
This whole thing was very fun. The challenge really allowed me to make a plan and stick to a time-line to get an entire outfit done, not just misfit pieces. I got better at making my little hand-sewn eyelets! My main inspirational painting is still the Annunciation of San Martino alla Scalla by Botticelli, but the cap was based off of some female portraits by Ghirlandiao. The Giornea's color and lack of ornamentation were inspired by the previously mentioned Annunciation, but the inspiration that made me decide a Giornea instead of a cloak was The Presentation of the Virgin at the Temple by Ghirlandiao.

More than anything I got great memories out of this project. Like my cat crawling into the bodice and getting stuck in the skirt, meowing like she was lost and had resigned herself to her fate. Or when I took my niece to her first Renaissance Faire while testing out my gamurra. I had customers at my job get emotionally involved with my progress!

Thank you for hosting this costume challenge and allowing me to be a part of it!



First Update

I chose to work on my undergarment for this first month. The camicia is made out of a lightweight cotton, gathered at the front and back. I used the "How to sew a Venetian Camicia" on The Realm of Venus as a starting point. As my cotton was more stiff than expected I cut the sleeves less full than is instructed. It has worked out rather well, as the stiffness in the cotton would make a fuller sleeved camicia uncomfortable when wearing a pair of sleeves with a gown.

Gusset in progress

I hate hems

Cuffs and cat

The finished camicia

Second Update

The red gamurra I am making is essentially finished, minus a few smaller details like sewing down seam allowances and tidying up loose threads. The bodice is lined with purple brushed twill for support. In the Annunciation painting I am using as inspiration, there is not enough of a view of the bodice for any indication whether the gamurra is front laced or side laced. However there are other pieces of art around the time the Annunciation was painted that show front lacing gamurras. Three of those women are clearly wearing front lacing gamurras. My gown is front laced in keeping with the style of those paintings. The accompanying sleeves are, unfortunately, not quite finished in time for this month's update.

Third Update

This month I decided to focus on my outer garment, a giornea. I got very lucky in finding a gorgeous Robin's egg blue wool flannel.

I prewashed it in the washing machine to felt it slightly and shrink it. The texture is now is a little extra fuzzy, which is actually very nice for this fabric. Here, have a bonus kitty with the fabric!

I live in central California so wool flannel was a hard choice. In the end, the color and the likelihood of a giornea being made of wool swayed my decision to buying the wool. It will be amazing for winter events locally and I have no other cool/cold weather gear currently.

I used the giornea pattern provided by Cathelina Alessandri as a starting point, though I shaped the front panels to hang nicely once I had sewn the shoulder seams. Cutting into this wool has, so far, been the most nerve racking point in this whole project. I don't normally buy "nice" fabric, I just stick to linen and cotton. This time, I had "nice" fabric and little room for error.

Thankfully I did not mess it up.

While working on all the seams of the giornea I realized that the shoulder seams felt fairly flimsy to carry all the weight they do.

I ended up stabilizing/reinforcing the shoulder seams with bias tape. It ended up being perfect. The shoulders no longer feel flimsy at all and I practiced walking around in it without fear of it ripping.

Finally I got to the last 3-4 inches of the last hem. I've finished it. Sadly I
don't have a photo of it finished at the time of submission because I forgot to take a picture before leaving town!

I also spent my month wrapping up small details on my main layer, the gamurra, specifically the sleeves. I had to fiddle quite a bit with the sleeve shape initially so by the end I had to rip out quite a bit of "seams" I didn't want anymore while finishing up the small details.

Further work was done on a set of necklaces as one of my accessory layers. I'm not quite sure if I'm satisfied with it yet.


I'm so excited to see all of it come together as all the accessories for this outfit get finished up, this next month!

Final Update

(Bella: please note that Beatrice has provided me with in-process shots. Due to this being a busy time for me with study and assignments, I have saved time by not using all of them in this update, but will of course be using them for evaluation purposes.)

This update is relatively simple. I finished everything up and learned a hard lesson.

I found out I accidentally didn't pre-wash the lining fabric of my gamurra. I decided to wear it to a local Ren faire to test out the fit and length and so it needed to be washed after.

Even though I used the coldest settings and laid it out to dry it still shrunk! Unfortunately that means that one of my two pockets has been sacrificed to altering my gamurra back to the right size.

Always double check you have pre-shrunk all fabric!

All my accessories - the cap, belt, (now single) pocket, and pair of necklaces - have all been completed.

The cap was based off of a pattern for an Elizabethan coif that I know works with my head, but is unlikely to be at all how they did coifs at the time. Since my initial inspiration was of the Annunciation and it appeared Mary had some beading around the edge of her veil, some beads were added tob the edge of this cap.


The belt is a pretty bit of ribbon sewn to some twill tape.

(Bella: unfortunately this item cannot count as a completed item as it doesn't show the belt in its entirety: there is no buckle or other method of closing the belt shown.)

The pocket was made using the blue wool from my giornea as the outer fabric and the red linen/cotton of my gamurra as the lining. I tested this pocket at the same Ren faire as the gamurra and it worked wonderfully!

I decided that the faux pearl necklace I had worked on last month was acceptable, and it has been paired with a longer black and white necklace I made near the beginning of the challenge.

My giornea.

(Bella: unfortunately this item cannot count as completed as I didn't receive a photo of it until well after the deadline. I cannot also count the gamurra as finished, as I didn't receive a photo of the completed gamurra (with both sleeves = completed).