The Eighth Annual Italian Renaissance Costuming Challenge

April 1 to July 31, 2018


Christa Gordon
Idaho, USA

I'm Christa, I've been sewing costumes for about 20 years now. I started doing Italian costuming about ten years ago. I love a challenge and hope to try some new styles and techniques I've never done before.

I hope to make a chemise, drawers, gown and doublet over gown. I'll be trying the modern maker drafting system which is completely new to me so this will be an adventure!


The Completed Outfit


Layer 1: Partlet, plus extra item 1: Camicia, plus extra item 2: Corset

Layer 2: Sottana, plus extra item 3, Petticoat (not shown here)

Layer 3: Over-dress

Layer 4, Accessories: Handkerchief, Fan, Shoes, Pocket



First Update

The Plan!

Purple doublet-style gown
Quilted sleeves

What was finished this month:


The partlet is made of pre-embroidered linen. Was machine sewn together with each seam flat felled. The collar was attached by hand. While it is in a state of done I may add lace to the collar and maybe run a strip of elastic around the bottom to help hold it in place around the chest- although I've worn several comfortably without such fastening that detail will come down to time and how it lays with the rest of the outfit later.


Not sure how much of my grand plan for this outfit will get finished. I needed a corset to smooth my shape under the doublet. Using the corset generator online I put together a simple corset using two layers of canvas and linen. I used plastic zip ties to do some very light boning. Machine sewn, hand done eyelets.


As an experiment I made a petticoat out of a cotton quilt. This was a cheaper alternative to the matelasse fabric I have used in the past and its a lovely soft cotton vs. the stiffer poly of the matelasse. If I can't finish an under gown the plan is to use the petticoat as under skirt with the planned doublet.



The chemise is habatoi silk which I love to work with. All edges are finished with a narrow hem then the finished edges will be whip stitched together. The neck caseing and cuffs will be a slightly heavier weight silk to help them keep their shape better. Currently it's just a bunch of rectangles that have been hemmed- truly boring progress pic but hopefully next month I'll have it done.

Gown pattern

Using the Bara method (Modern Maker Vol 2) I drafted a bodice and doublet pattern. This was completely new to me and I am very pleased at how it came together. I think I am now at a point I can start cutting out the gown pieces

Second Update

With the end of the school year I have not been as productive as I hoped this month. Although I'm thrilled I'm to a point where I just need to complete the camicia and gown to have a full outfit.



With the start of camping season coming up fast I wanted a pair of passable medieval shoes to wear. Something comfy and affordable that will look good with anything I wear. I started with a cheap pair of lace up tennis shoes, did some cutting and trimming then added some embroidery which reinforces the fabric left after cutting and takes it that step further to hide its modern beginnings.


This fan started its life as a crumb brush I found online. I removed the bristles then after preparing the feathers, tying plumes together and steaming them to make them look fuller, I used air dry clay to put it all together.


The pattern is taken from Il Burato: libro de recami a Modelbuch dated from 1527 in Venice. I used left over silk and left over embroidery floss from my stash and used chain stitch. It is then lined in red silk and that same silk makes the ties.

Third Update



I took an awesome class on reticella and punto in aria lace so naturally a lot of my progress this month stems from this class. This started as the reticella sampler from the class and while it's far from perfect I'm pretty darn proud of it and so I turned it into a handkerchief

While the partlet was finished ages ago, it proved to be a perfect canvas to practice my punto in aria skills.
(Bella: please note that if you add to an item that was 'finished' in a previous month it doesn't count as finished that month.)


Wait don't you already have one? Well..... I decided very last minute to throw my plan out the window. As I was cutting the sleeves that I was making just as an extra I realized I had enough of the white quilt left to do a bodice so the thought became why not a sottana? Which then made my petticoat the skirt for the sottana and no petticoat.

So I pulled some red fabric I had put away cut some panels and then sewed them to a waist band, a fun thing since I was throwing this together so fast I wasn't paying attention to the width of my panels. There is a ton of fabric instead of picking seams and measuring I just made giant double box pleats.

In Progress


As I was saying, I threw my plan out the window and completely changed my sottana plan so instead of the red silk I'm using the rest of the quilt I originally used on my petticoat, which will now become the skirt. The bodice and sleeves are good to go, now to attach the petticoat to the bodice and do eyelets.

Final Update

(Bella: please note that Christa has provided me with the required 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.)

The camicia is finally put together. Since I was working on a new pattern I wanted to wait on the camicia so I can make the neckline work best with the bodice neckline. All the pieces were hemmed before they were stitched together with a turkey stitch.

My first priority was to finish the gown. At the end of last month I had the bodice finished so with some hand done eyelets, lucet cord and lots of cartridge pleating later and it's a dress!

In the last few days I thought I would try to get some of the doublet over-gown done. This is a new style to me and my first attempt at such a pattern. It started with a canvas structure layer so it has some good body to it. The next step was doing the lining I decided I wanted the lining to be stamped with my ermine stamp so when worn slightly open this would be a cute feature. The stamping was not as clean as I would like but I'm very much a novice at stamping.

I hand-sewed the armscye and bound it with bias binding, as well as the pleating at the waist. The pleats on the skirt are also hand tacked to encourage it to fall open.

I strung some beads and pearls on tiger tail which I then stitched to the waist. The main purpose of this is to add visual interest and having it sewn to the gown prevents the belt from shifting or getting lost