The Eighth Annual Italian Renaissance Costuming Challenge

April 1 to July 31, 2018


Maridith Smith
Colorado, USA

I started sewing over twenty years ago and fell in love with historical costume along the way. I am an the author of, and a card carrying member of the Society for Creative Anachronism. My love affair with Italian renaissance clothing started when I met my Laurel six years ago.

I have been in love with this portrait at the San Diego Museum of art for years and plan to reproduce it as closely as I can. I will need a new camicia, partlet, sottana with sleeves, jewelry, and petticoat. Should I have time I also intend to make a parasol and new shoes.

The Completed Outfit



Layer 1: Camicia

My camicia was completely hand sewn using silk thread. The decorative edging is commercially made cotton bobbin lace.



Layer 2: Petticoat, plus extra item 1: Partlet

Petticoat and partlet for me work as a middle layer. My white and blue shot silk skirt is decorated with gray cut silk and silver braid. My partlet was hand sewn from cotton lace fabric. The partlet is edged in comercial bobbin lace and tied together with hand made lucet cord.



Layer 3: Sottana

My sottana is made of a cut green cotton velvet and lined in brown linen. The bodice construction was done by hand and inspired by the Modern Maker's pad stitching techniques. The skirts were attached by hand with a mixture of box pleats on the front and cartridge pleats on the back.



Layer 4, Accessories: Set of Jewelry, Veil, Pocket

Accessories for this dress include a set of jewelry. Specifically I made a necklace, ear rings, and a strand of hair jewelry. In addition to this I hand hemmed my veil of silk-silver tissue before adding tassels. Another accessory I completed and used extensively at Pennsic this year was my pocket. I drafted this to fit essentials out of a wool and linen scraps. My pocket was edged in homemade silk bias tape, and tied around my waist using a silk ribbon.




First Update

With so many projects going on in my life I decided to focus on getting my petticoat finished this month. I used a turquoise and white shot silk for the body of the skirt and stitched it on the machine using French seams.

A plain petticoat did not suit me well so I got inspired to add a band of gray silk with cutwork and some silver trim. The metallic trim is acting a bit like horse hair & helping it stand out.

Second Update

The month of May was busy on a personal level for me. I have finished a a lace partlet this month that will be secured using a ribbon woven through the lace around my rib cage. I'm not convinced this is correct for the painting yet, but it looks gorgeous.

I have started on my green sottana as well. I'm experimenting with using pad stitching the bodice interlining with linen canvas and wool felt for stability. This should be finished this week. I did not expect how much the pad stitching would shrink the interlining. I plan to baste this down to another layer of fabric to accommodate the shrinkage.

Third Update

June should be known as the month of hand sewing. After I completed the second half of the pad stitching on my bodice front I held it up to the pattern and realized how much the piece had shrunk. I then basted the pad stitched inter lining to a fresh piece of linen canvas and went about assembling the bodice by hand. With the pad stitched wool felt I should be able to wear this without stays.

A fun new feature I added to this dress that I had never done before was clipped piping at the edge. That is what I believe is going on in this painting as well as a few of Elenora of Toledo's portraits. Because of the cut silk this dress will not be machine washable.

The sottana skirt is in progress and will be done soon inspired by Elenora's funeral gown, but I have shortened the train to only be a few inches of puddle to make it easier to run around events in.

I have not yet decided if the large rolls on the Lady in Green are attached to the shoulders on the dress, or part of the sleeve. I started experimenting with some mock ups and studying similar paintings to see what I might glean from there.

I have also been working on my accessories. My hair dressing for this style is getting more solid and I won't need fake hair, I believe. I have not found jewelry findings I like for the exact necklace in the painting so I strung something with a pendant I found on Etsy. I do not plan on wearing a large chain like the one in the photo because I primarily play in the SCA where that has other connotations.

Last things to finish in my mad rush would be a camicia with lace or white work, attaching the skirts to the bodice, hemming the skirts, and decisions on sleeves. July will be busy and hopefully very productive.

Final Update

I've been stitching like crazy to finish this month. With the realization I am leaving for Pennsic right after this update was due I decided to add some of my Pennsic projects into the mix.

I realized at another camping event earlier this summer that I really needed a pocket to keep my cell phone and money in while walking around. This is made of a scrap of wool twill and lined in linen left over from working on my sottana. I made some bias tape out of silk scraps to bind it and decorated in a period style trim from my stash. The pocket will tie around my waist on a silk ribbon. As I started finishing jewelry I decided to make aglets for the ribbon to make it prettier.

I also spent a lot of procrastinating time when I should have been working on my camicia to play with jewelry. I made a pair of earrings to go with my necklace from the last update and my take on the hair jewelry in the painting. I couldn't find the exact pieces for the look, and lack the time to start casting. Eventually I took apart two bracelets I found and added gold beads to the mix.

Another Pennsic wishlist project I had was making a new veil with more body. I found this silk/silver tissue at a high end fabric store in town & bought the remnant (roughly 36×45 inches). I then spent two nights hemming the piece by hand using waxed silk thread. To help keep the veil from getting whipped up in light wind I added tassels made with silver plated beads and silk embroidery floss.

My camicia was hand sewn using silk thread. I got tired of my linen thread snapping even when waxed. I lacked the time to start cutwork or white work embroidery during the competition and have used a cotton lace similar to patterns in Le Pompe. For extra durability my camicia has thread bars at the sleeve openings and hand sewn button holes worked in silk.

My sottana has probably been the most daunting part of this challenge. Once the pad stitching on the felt was fixed I cut out a linen lining and the green velvet fashion layer. The bodice was sewn together by hand and has 28 eyelets on the side back.

One of the fun details on this sottana is what I interpret to be pinked silk bindings for the neck line, sleeve heads, and edging the sleeve openings. I almost put one on my hem as seen in patterns of fashion, but worried about it wearing out too quickly with my train.

My skirt was machine sewn to assemble the front and back portions. I then whip-stitched the sides together and attached the skirt with large cartridge pleats and hemmed by hand.

I also went back and adjusted my partlet collar to be 1 inch shorter after wearing it and added some lace to dress up the edges.