The Eighth Annual Italian Renaissance Costuming Challenge

April 1 to July 31, 2018


Ingrid Lundberg
Uppsala, Sweden

Hello! After many years of considering signing up for the IRCC I've finally decided that the time is now! I've sewed some historical outfits in the past, mostly during the years I worked the medieval market circuit in my youth, but I've never done anything from the Italian renaissance (though I've wanted to for a very long time).

As this year is the 20th (!) anniversary of Ever After, the film that sparked my first interest in the Italian renaissance, I'm aiming for a late 15th century ensemble. I'm wavering between the Venetian and Florenese styles from this time period so it is possible that I'll forgo some authenticity and pick and choose what I like best from each.

The break down:

Underwear layer: Camicia
Main layer: Gamurra/Zupa
Outer layer: Giornea/Cioppa/Veste
Accessories: Coazzone and tinzale; Pendant/necklace; Belt?; Saccoccia (bag)?; Stockings and garters?; Partlet?

As you can see I'm a bit undecided when it comes to the accessories. I'm counting on figuring out exactly what I want to make as the challenge progresses and the outfit comes together.

First Update

An underwhelming progress report

April started off with high ambitions: my plan was to complete the camicia and make a good start on the gamurra before the end of the month. So far I've finished about two and a half seams on the camicia, though in my defence I am sewing it entirely, albeit slowly, by hand.

Most of my planned outfit will be made of fabrics I have in my stash and most of those are non-period: a synthetic brocade for the gamurra, a cotton velvet for the cioppa. I'll happily use my sewing machine when sewing the long seams of these, though I'll do the finishing by hand for a better look. However, I've had nearly four metres of a fine linen in my stash for ages which was perfect for the camicia, and wanting to do the linen justice I decided that I'd sew it by hand and make it up in an as period way as possible.

The pattern I've used is Bella's own pattern. While this camicia is of a later date than my planned outfit I've leaped to the wild conclusion that the camicie probably (hopefully) hadn't changed too much during the time-frame and I wanted a pattern that'd guarantee plenty of fullness in the sleeves to get the right pooffiness.

When researching what kind of seams to use I consulted Patterns of Fashion 4 (Janet Arnold, Jenny Tiramani and Santina Levey), The Tudor Tailor (Jane Malcolm-Davies and Ninya Mikhaila) and The Medieval Tailor's Assistant (Sarah Thursfield). The run-and-fell seam appears to be the most commonly used seam for linens over a long time and is fairly quick to do despite the two-step construction. This is the first time I've hand-sewed an entire garment and using entirely period techniques though my seams are twice as wide as the ones done during the period as I didn't dare to do them narrower until I'd got the feel for the sewing. For thread I used waxed linen thread (Bockens ½-bleached bobbin lace yarn 40/2 and a nub of beeswax left over from a candle making kit).

Run seam

Prepping for fell seam

Finished seam, right and wrong sides

What with being in the middle of a long weekend (hooray for Walpurgis' Eve and May day!) and another one lurking round the corner (hooray for Ascension break!) I expect to have plenty of time in the coming month to really get into the sewing groove.

Second Update

Oh dear, time files a bit too quickly. I thought my progress in April was slow but that is nothing compared to May.

My progress this past month amounts to:

  • Sewing another seam of the camicia. But not finishing it (yet).
  • Cutting out the bodice of the gamurra. I drafted my own pattern based on of the Eleanora di Toledo gown in Patterns of Fashion and shortened it to just above my natural waist. The fabric is a green-gold polyester brocade that I've had in my stash for over ten years. It's just as synthetic as you can possibly get but I love the colours.

  • Sewing a pair of curtains entirely unrelated to the IRCC and somehow manging to break my sewing machine in the process (I have no words...)
  • Prepping the fabric for the giornea.

The only thing better than getting curtains from IKEA is scoring cheap second hand IKEA curtains. The ones I'm using are of a dark brown velvet fabric that have a good drape and short pile – not as deep and shiny as modern velvets. I've had to cut off the huge grommets on the top and let down the very weird and clunky hem done by the curtains' previous owners, but I still have plenty of fabric left to work with (each of the two panels are ca 140 x 235 cms).

Goals for June: achieve the goals I set for April and May. ;)