The Eighth Annual Italian Renaissance Costuming Challenge

April 1 to July 31, 2018


Tatiana Kaish
Moscow, Russia

My name is Tatiana Kaish. I'm from the Moscow region of Russia. I've been doing the reconstruction for about three years. This will be the second experience of tailoring the gown in the style of the Italian Renaissance.

For the competition, I chose a suit from the portrait of Isabella of Portugal by Titian. Since a similar dress is depicted in the portrait of Joanna of Aragon by Rafaelo Santi, I suppose that Isabella is wearing an Italian gown.
Also, Janet Arnold wrote in her book "Patterns of Fashion 1560-1620":
"Isabella of Portugal, wife of Emperor Charles V, wearing a gown similar in style to that worn by Eleonora of Toledo in her grave in 1562 except that the skirt opens at the front to reveal a forepart."
My costume will consist of:
1.A camicia and a bodice (worn by Eleanora of Toledo)
2. An under-skirt and a top skirt
3. Velvet gown with a sleeves
4. A girdle and head gear
All the necessary fabrics and accessories for creating a costume, I have already purchased. I will use machine embroidery with metallic threads and decorate with a cord and beads.

The Completed Outfit

I felt like a queen in this dress. It is impossible to dress independently, so I had help. And since the photography took place in the garden and I did not have a mirror, I trusted my assistant. I did not recognize myself in the photos. I think it's very beautiful!

Layer 1: Camicia

Camicia is made of fine cotton with lace inserts and is decorated on the hem with lace. It is light, free and airy.

Layer 2: Roped Petticoat, plus extra item 1: Under-Bodice

The under-bodice is made of cotton, quilted with a jute cord, a hook-and-loop fastener. The final finish is by hand. The lower skirt of cotton is double, quilted with sisal thread, tied at the side.


Extra items 2, Under-Skirt, and 3, Shirt

The shirt is made of silk chiffon, decorated with golden cord and beads. The collar is embroidered with small beads. Fastening with loops and buttons. The bottom of the shirt is decorated with a lace ribbon. All hand-sewn, except for the assembly of the sleeves.
The under-skirt is made of silk jacquard, it is strengthened along the hem with batting and golden braid. Side closing with hooks. Decorative stitches are metallized with hand thread, belt and hem are hand-sewn.


Layer 3: Dress

The dress is made of Italian cotton velvet on a lining of cotton fabric, decorated with machine embroidery, beads and pearl beads. The bodice is strengthened with screeds. All details are sewn by hand, except for the side seams of the skirt.


Layer 4, Accessories: Book, Head Piece, Necklace and Girdle (Set of Jewellery)

1. The book. Covered with cotton velvet, decorated with golden cord, machine embroidery, beads, braid, ribbons.
2. The headpiece is woven from pearls and studs with pearl thread eyelets. (I obviously need artificial hair so that it looks good).
3. Belt and necklace of beads.




First Update

I use an online translator, so I apologize for my clumsy English.

I decided to start with the "bodies" worn by Eleanora of Toledo. They say that Eleanora was very thin because of a long illness and wore a similar stays to give the body a volume/ to have been that of keeping warm , rather than providing stiffness. I will use it to become thinner.


To begin with, I made a layout/draft of the corset.
Then I transferred the pattern to paper, since I plan sewing and the dress on this pattern.

Then I cut the details of two types of dense cotton, placing the upper fabric along the share thread, and the lining in the weft.

I stitched through all the details and inserted a jute cord into the channels.


I sewed all the details and hooks for accurate fitting. Then I worked the edges.

The next step was sewing the camicia. As a sample, I chose this one. Pattern of Raglan. Inserts made from the lace fabric. At the bottom I sewed lace and worked the cuts.


On the trying on clothes, I realized that there is not enough tissue in the armpits. I'll be thinking how to fix this. But overall - the result suits.

I had a bit more time and redid the camicia. I unstitched the side seams and inserted the gussets (4 wedges); and decorated the neckline. Now it has become comfortable - nothing contracts and does not hamper the movement. First layer is totally complete.


Second Update

This month I had more time and I managed to do a lot.

I began to embroider ornaments. The design of the program for the embroidery machine was made by my husband. The design was very difficult. A fragment of 18cm is embroidered in 135 minutes. I made a sample of embroidery and immediately decorated with beads and pearls as it will be in the final. I embroidered the stripes on the fabric, then I will cut them and draw them to the dress. The most difficult thing is to combine the drawing.

I was engaged in manual work while watching the process of embroidery. I gathered a girdle, strung a bead of cord.

I made a skeleton for the bodice by inserting clips from the building store into the channels. They are strong enough and plastic.

I also started sewing a shirt. The collar and cuffs will be decorated with beads, and the upper part and sleeves - golden cord. Here is a photo of this process.

I sewed the under-skirt. Cut from the width of the fabric 71cm. In fact, there are two skirts between which a sisalic thread is laid. It looks like straw and holds the bell well. I needed about 65m thread.

The under-skirt is finished.

I have almost finished my top skirt. It remains only to sew the belt.

Third Update


This month I did not manage to do everything that was planned, because I ordered pearls of the wrong size. I postponed the sewing in anticipation of the "correct pearl". Also, I ripped open the shirt, because I could not achieve the desired effect as in the portrait.

But first things first: I finished the top skirt. Material - silk jacquard beautiful golden color, with a nonhistorical pattern, but also interesting. The obtilation of the bottom is duplicated by a layer of batting. The bottom is decorated with braid. Belt is fastened on the side of the hooks. All finishing seams are made by hand with a metallized thread.

I completely finished the bodice. How to sew up his sleeves and skirt, I have no idea, I will try. And in general - all the elements of the costume I sew for the first time. This is a kind of experiment. Get it or not - we'll see in the finals. The bodice is trimmed with velvet. Lining of cotton fabric with some stains, which only on the lining is good. Everything is sewn by hand.

This is how it looks on me.

The sleeves and skirt for the dress I at first cut out from lining. Then I cut out the velvet, except for the area where the ornament was sewn.

The sleeves are two 80x 80cm squares with a cut out armhole angle. Everything is sewn by hand. At the momen they look like pillowcases. I'll finish when my pearls arrives.

The skirt looks like this:

The shirt failed the first time. Initially, I wanted to make a partlet and sew up my sleeves. But when I was close to the end, something went wrong and I broke everything. Only the collar remained.

I cut a full-length shirt from silk chiffon like a raglan, sewed up sleeves, decorated it with a cord, and only then I'll sew this collar. Here is a little process of manufacturing sleeves.

I cut out two rectangles of 60cm by 70 cm. Every 10cm I pulled out the weft thread to outline the straight lines. I made lines on the machine with the assembly and sewed a string. Then I sewed the beads.

This is how the shirt looks now. But I already like it!



Final Update

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


I'll start my report with the long-suffering shirt. It turned out not so as in the original, but also beautiful. I embroidered the top of the shirt with a golden cord and beads. The bottom decorated with a narrow strip of lace. Buttonhole fastening. Handwork 90%.

I got my pearls and embroidered trim on my sleeves and skirt. Thanks to the reports of the other participants, I learned to sew the skirt and sleeves to the bodice. All has turned out without problems! All sewn by hand, except for side seams on the skirt and lining.

When cutting the sleeves, I was guided by the statue of Isabella de Portugal in Madrid.

Also, I made some accessories. The first is a book. I found an old worn English-Russian dictionary of 1955, and as a cover I used my sample of embroidery on black velvet.

The second accessory is a headpiece, which I noticed on several portraits.



And given the fact that I had a surplus of pearl beads, it was easy. I made a pillow in the shape of a head, outlined a pattern, stuck pins and twisted the net. From small pearl threads I decorated hairpins.


The third accessory is a pretty necklace from a vintage brooch.

I was very happy to participate in this Costuming Challenge. Time passed like a moment. I would gladly start this challenge from the very beginning.

Thank you, Bella, for this opportunity to learn from others and share your experience.