The Eighth Annual Italian Renaissance Costuming Challenge

April 1 to July 31, 2018


Gerdiene Crocker
Hawaii, USA

I have made theatrical costumes for twenty years as well as various outfits for Renaissance fairs in the USA. This is my first Italian Renaissance ensemble, which makes me a novice and first time participant in this challenge. My four year old daughter loves to dress up and encourages me to make things and wants to help, although my sewing time is often interrupted for snacks and play time. I live in Hawaii.

I will be making a simple camicia and partlet with purchased lace. I will make a sottana and overdress with split skirt. My goal is 1570's Florence.

First Update

While I usually do one layer at a time, the time schedule for this challenge means I have to work on several layers parts at once. I can do hand stitching during breaks at work, for example, which means I'll have more time to sit behind my machine at home. As of this update, no single item is complete, but lots of things are started. Here is what's been happening.

1. The camicia has been cut and partially sewn using my machine. I'm doing machine embroidery on the sleeves, neck line, and perhaps body before sewing the final seams. Embroidery is not my thing, so I'll let the machine handle that part, especially since it will be entirely covered up.

2. The sottana is a huge question mark for me. I'm doing a pad-stitched interlining for the first time and am not planning on using any boning. I won't know if it will work for me until I finish the stitching, attach it to the bodice and try it on. The pad-stitching is nearly finished. It has been a loooooong process. I'm sewing the entire sottana by hand. I have sewn the skirt and skirt lining seams, as well as prepped the hem.

3. The veste will feature a high cut-on collar. I have drafted the pattern over my lightest boned stays and done a mock-up, which looked good. I flat-lined the final fashion fabric pieces and basted them. I don't know if it will fit over the sottana, luckily I have lots of the fashion fabric should I need to back to the drawing board.

4. The sleeves are almost finished! The are also completely hand sewn. Applied soutache on light gold silk. They are unlined and I won't make a final decision on lining until more comes together.

5. The parlet has been cut and the (synthetic) lace applied to a band. This piece is also sewn by hand.

6. Accessories: I have started making some jewels for the girdle.

All in all, a very different process for me, as I usually build skin-out and don't try to do multiple parts at once. It's been a lot of fun though, and I am very excited to try my pad-stitched bodice in May. I expect it to be ready for fitting next week.

Second Update

As the spouse of a university intructor the end of the semester is also the end of sanity. But I made progress on my project anyway. For this month I focussed on three items: camicia (chemise), sottana (kirtle), and partlet.

The Camicia

Status: near completion.

I had not really started this yet in April, and its the foudation of my entire ensemble. I based the pattern off of the smock generator at the Elizabethan Costuming page. Because my linen/cotton blend was 60 inches wide, I decided to cut on the gores rather than sewing them. This is not historically accurate, but makes sense for my time frame and materials.

I machine stitched this for speed and durability. I'm not an embroidery person, so my machine did that work as well. Even with the machine doing the embroidery I was so frustrated with the process! This embroidery thing is just not for me. I am in awe of those that work entire smocks, caps, and sleeves. I didn't mark the neckline until I had more of the kirtle done. I used bias strips to face the neck line and machine emboidered it.

I still have to hem the sleeves and I may do more embroidery on the hem and bodice area.

The Sottana

Status: far enough to do a fitting, lots of finishing left to do.

I finished the pad stitching on the bodice and am very satisfied with the results. I put on lacing strips for an inital fitting over an a-historical chemise. I had issues with major buckling under the bust and not a good overall shape. However, when I tried it over the camicia I am making for this project, I was amazed at how much better the shape and support was. I added the fashion fabric, a lovely olive tan wool, to the pad stitched interlining.

After a month of tiny pad stitches, my whip stitching of the fashion fabric is neither neat nor tiny. The results looked good on the dummy. I did not yet finish the eyelets, but I couldn't resist trying it on. I will need to shorten the back about 3/4 of an inch to make it sit correctly on my waist and even out the lacing.

I still have to attach the skirt, redo the back bottom hem, finish the eyelets, attach shoulder straps at front, attach lining, and perhaps add trims.

The Partlet

Status: pieces

The partlet is cut and partially sewn. The ruff piece has been prepared and the lace attached. I am not sure yet what tools I will use to set the ruff. The partlet still needs a lot of work.