The Eighth Annual Italian Renaissance Costuming Challenge

April 1 to July 31, 2018


Mandy L'Estrelle
Christchurch, New Zealand

My name's Mandy L’Estrelle. I’m now living in Christchurch, New Zealand but was previously from Perth, Western Australia. I’m a confirmed IRCC addict. It’s been seven years now and I haven’t been able to give up the habit yet so here goes for a eighth year. I love sewing Italian garb and each year I try to extend my knowledge and skills and also to encourage others to do the same.

My outfit this year is leaning towards an outfit based on 1570s style with the white under doublet, as now I am living in a much colder climate I can move towards wearing all the layers instead of dealing with heat issues. I have a number of portraits I am studying for ideas. As per previous years I will be trying to use only fabric and trims etc. that I have already accumulated in my stash, this year even more so due to tight budget restrictions.

First Update

This year I have decided to work on an outfit based on Bartolomeo Passarotti's Ritratto di Nobliodonna col figlio, which is currently held in the National Museum of Art of Romania, and dates from around 1570.

However I have also decided I like The Nativity fresco by Frederico Zuccari, which dates from around the same time and place, Bologna, so my zimmara will be inspired by both of the two styles, which are very similiar, with just the sleeves being the main difference.

I have started working on a long shirt with high ruffled collar. I decided to go with a shirt instead of a chemise and partlet this year, as I already have many chemises and partlets in my wardrobe. This will be something different.

I based my shirt pattern upon one in Pattern of Fashion, it has a long straight middle section that is folded at the shoulders to form front and back panels, the sleeves are cut as straight pieces with small square gores to give plenty of movement in the arms, and triangular gores at the sides to give fullness and comfort. This is nearing completion.

The second piece I have made is a navy blue corded petticoat. I based it on Alcega's farthingale pattern. It has bias cut channels, that I hand cut and folded, into which I have inserted double lengths of cotton rope to give it a little hold but now too stiff. The hem is also padded with a layer of woollen felt. The waist is a drawstring made from the same bias cut tapes I used for the channels but folded and sewn in half.

This piece is complete.

I have also stared on drafting a new bodice pattern for the sottana.

All the fabrics have been chosen for the various layers, and happily they have all come from my stash with nothing extra to purchase.

Second Update

This month has been extremely difficult health and life wise and I have only managed a little progress, and sadly next month is looking worse but I am still hoping to manage to complete this challenge.

My original colour choices weren't working for me so I went back to the drawing board, or rather the silk cupboard and selcted new fabrics. I have gone with an emerald green for the sottana, even though this silk isn't the quality that would have been used in period, it's very slubby and lightweight, the colour just sings to me and it was time it got used. So out with the burgundy and in with the green.


Next on the chopping block was the blue brocade for the zimarra this has been replaced with a plain black. I have also selected a piece of green and black brocade which I hope to make the doublet and maybe line the sleeves of the zimarra with but it is only a couple of metres so will have to see how far I can make it stretch. Otherwise the doublet will be the original plan of white with gold banding, I am sort of hoping to have time to make both the black/green doublet and the white to make them interchangeable.

I have managed this month to construct the internals for the bodice in black canvas from my stash with boning channel with cable ties for boning and have cut the green silk. The bodice is coming along. All the skirt panels have been cut and french seamed together.

Bodice started

Internal bodice in black with channels sewn, and cut silk bias being sewn together

Cutting out the skirt

Cutting out the skirt gores

Skirt panels together

I have also started a silversmithing course and decided to make my ring with a green stone so I can wear it with this outfit as an accessory.