The Eighth Annual Italian Renaissance Costuming Challenge

April 1 to July 31, 2018


Rhonda Wright
Colorado, USA

Hi, My name is Rhonda Wright and I am from Colorado, USA. I am familiar with sewing as I have made clothes for my grandchildren but, am a novice to the Renaissance period of clothing. I have always enjoyed sewing and currently I do some alterations for friends and family.

I want to construct a child's period costume for my 13 year old granddaughter for nobility. I have a slight handicap with mobility issues so fitting for myself is a challenge. The dress that I want to construct is an early 1500s Italian style. It will consist of a camicia and drawers, an under dress and a gown. I also want to make a necklace, pocket and partlet.

I have purchased a fine white linen for the camicia and drawers. I have also purchased a beautiful green silk damask for the under dress and am looking for a green cotton velvet for the gown.

The Completed Outfit


Layer 1: Camicia, plus extra item 1: Drawers

I made the camicia from fine white linen and stitched it together using French seams. I chose to gather the neck edge with small knife pleats and finish with a replica embroidery from the Italian Black-work collection from the 16th century that I found during an on line search. I chose a dark green for the embroidery to compliment the dresss as it will be showing. This was machine embroidery. I also created knife pleats on each sleeve and completed the camicia with the embroidery placing it one inch from the sleeve edge. The hem is hand stitched.

Also from fine white linen, the drawers were stitched using the same French seams as the camicia. The lower edge hem was machined embroidered using the same Italian Black-work collection from the 16th century. I then stitched the hem onto the drawers.

Layer 2: Hooped skirt, and extra item 2: Under-bodice

I chose a golden color satin for these items. The underbodice was made with one layer of heavy canvas for stiffening then sandwiched between two layers of linen and placed between the satin. This provided a perfect amount of stiffening for the top. Each internal layer was hand stitched together. The bodice was then machined stitched at the side seams. The holes for the eyelets were made with an awl and then hand stitched. The ties/laces were tea stained to closer match the fabric.

The skirt was machine stitched along the sides. Rope was applied to the guide lines and machine stitched in a casing. The waistband was hand sewn using grosgrain ribbon leaving it long enough for ties. The hem was created by rolling the material under and hand stitching. Once finished, I attached the skirt to the under-bodice by hand stitching.

Layer 3: Dress/Gown

The final layer was made using a beautiful silk brocade of emerald green and gold. The bodice was interlayered with linen to create boning channels and hand stitched. I used cable ties for the boning. I then made bias tape and bound the edges of the bodice by hand stitching all the way around. Placing grosgrain ribbon along the front, I created the channels for the ladder lacing. The entire bodice was hand sewn and completed.

The sleeves were created using four panes that were attached with two small and one large pearls, seventy-two sets hand sewn. The gaps that were created allowed me to pull the camicia through. Each sleeve attached to the bodice with three sets of hook and eye.

The skirt was machine stitched only at the side seams. I created a five-inch wide facing and basted it to the skirt at the waist to give it a little lift. I made large knife pleats at the waist as this made a good match to compliment the camicia. I them hand stitched the skirt to the bodice. Wide hand-made bias tape was stitched to the lower edge of the skirt. This allowed me to create a four inch hem which was then hand stitched to the skirt.

Layer 4, Accessories: Necklace and Girdle (Set of jewellery)

For the necklace I alternated emerald green with white pearls and centered an oval pearl conch between them. The girdle was a mixture of pearl beads and square metallic beads alternating with small disk that were studded with rhinestones. At the end I attached another oval conch pendant. Both items were finished with a lobster and ring closure.




First Update

I have completed the camicia and drawers. I decided to do some embroidery on the items. The camicia that inspired me was in a painting called Guiditta by Vincenzo Catena. I added a simple flower replica embroidery to the sleeves and neckline just above the pleats as I plan to have this showing as an accent for the dress. The camicia was pleated and embroidery was sewn on just 5/8 inch below the pleats.

The drawers were also embroidered at the lower hem. This was an afterthought at the request of my granddaughter.

I look forward to working on the underskirt and dress next!

Second Update

This month I didnt accomplish all that I wanted to but next month I will be on holiday and can accomplish much more. She has a petticoat and an underbodice. Here are pictures of the progress.

I am also glad that my material has arrived from England. The silk damask is for the dress and the green velvet for the overdress and accents. Absolutely beautiful.

I have also completed the necklace for the dress and plan to use the cross as part of the girdle. [Bella: unfortunately the necklace can't be counted towards the layer requirements as there were no photos provided of the making of it.]

Third Update

June passed so quickly but I did accomplish my goal to finish the undergarments. In addition to the previously completed camicia and drawers, we now have a roped under-skirt and under-body.

Her jewlery is also complete.

Final Update

(Bella: please note that Rhonda has provided me with all the required in-process shots. Due to this being a busy time for me with study and assignments, I have saved time by not using all of them in this update, but will of course be using them for evaluation purposes.)

July passed so quickly and was the most exciting phase of the whole competition. I changed the sleeve style to a four-pane sleeve and I feel that it really made the dress.

I am really impressed with the outcome. I look forward to taking the final pictures this weekend.