The Eighth Annual Italian Renaissance Costuming Challenge

April 1 to July 31, 2018


Rhonda Neely
Californnia, USA

My name is Rhonda Neely from California, USA. I am 66 years old and know basic sewing but I am a novice to Italian Renaissance costuming. My sister and my daughter are very involved / interested in SCA. Entering this contest allows me the opportunity to learn more about medieval Italian fashion while improving my sewing skills and, more importantly, spend more time with my wonderful daughter.

My proposed outfit is inspired by studying the many beautiful images of late Italian renaissance women's fashion.

1. Corset / Pair of Bodies Underbodice - black & muted gold silk damask fashion fabric with black linen lining (and double cotton duck interlining) - side/back lacing.
2. Sottana Under-Dress with Detachable Sleeves - in arsenic green silk taffeta with detachable gold silk damask sleeves; bodice to be trimmed in black & gold; under-dress to be flat lined with cotton duck.
3. Zimarra Gown with capped sleeves in deep black cotton velveteen, trimmed in black & gold with gold fabric frog closures, probably lined with black linen; and, 4. Perhaps a fan or belt (or both) as the accessory.

First Update

My project has already taken some significant twists and turns!


1. Corset

I began work on my project corset but then my daughter asked for an Italian Fruit Seller's dress in red velveteen for an upcoming renaissance faire, so the corset is still awaiting completion. I made a mock up which fit perfectly, so I am hoping that this one will fit nicely as well.

Adjusting strap angle on corset pattern.

Cutting out corset pattern from cotton duck.

Cutting out corset lining.


2. Camicia

Even though I cannot officially count it as a contest item because the pattern pieces had been cut prior to April 1st, I am including pics of a camicia that I am making as well. I had trouble with some of the machine embroidery which I had to gently rip out. A new machine needle solved the problem. I embroidered the two front and two back seams.




Since the Fruit Seller's dress is the correct time period, I am including it as one of my contest items. When it was fitted on my daughter, we realized that the bodice came up too high. So, I had to cut the finished bodice down, and squared it up, so that it fits perfectly now. I also had some slight mismatching of trim where the seams met so I had to redo those as well.

Second Update



I completed the corset this month and am very pleased with the damask fabric. I want the wearer to feel elegant wearing it.



I started the sottana by first making a partially-skirted mock up out of muslin before cutting the silk taffeta. The mock up fit perfectly on the first try, so that was satisfying. I have cut out the pattern pieces, zig-zag finished the edges, and sewn the gores to the front and back skirts. I am awaiting the arrival of wool felt stiffener so that I can finish the bodice. My goal is to finish the sottana and start the gown next month.


Finished hand-sewing the hem. Just need to properly gather the neckline to finish this camicia. However, this one is not eligible for the contest because the pattern pieces were cut before the contest. I am inspired by another contestant's lovely sheer camicia, so if I have enough time I intend to sew another one from scratch out of tissue linen with lace insets for the contest.