The Ninth Annual Italian Renaissance Costuming Challenge

April 1 to July 31, 2019


Amber Gordon
Florida, USA

I’ve been sewing since I was 10. I’ve only made two garments that are historical, and only one that was Italian Renaissance. So I am a novice.

I have been obsessing over the pink Eleanora Di Toledo portrait by Bronzino. Set in 1543. It’s ambitious, but I love it so much.

The layers I am attempting are a camicia, underskirt, sottana, partlet, girdle, hair net.

I have already assembled the trim for the partlet, by attaching fine blue ribbon to double picot trim. I am in the process of stitching out the sottana trim on pink satin with a file I digitized for my embroidery machine. I intend to finish the edges with soutache when I apply it to my sottana. My guess is that I will need a yard of pink satin cut 3 inches wide and sewn together to get enough trim for sleeves, hem, and bodice. I have also started doing gold/blackwork trim for the camicia.


(Updates listed in reverse order)


First Update: April Progress

This month was fairly productive. I focused mostly on the bodice and camicia, needing the bodice neckline to determine the neckline of the camicia.

Items started but not yet completed:


For inspiration on the camicia I chose the extant piece labeled #11 in the book Patterns of Fashion 4. This camicia has slightly gathered trapezoidal sleeves, and is Italian in origin. I made it square neck as in the portrait, added ruffles at the cuffs, and gussets at the waist and center front to accommodate better fit on my hips. I cut and stitched together my camicia, and I have a few bits of detailing on the cuffs and some gold cording to couch at the neckline.

I ended up scrapping the embroidery I had done and went with the same pattern in a more yellowish metallic gold to better match the other elements of the dress. I’m now finishing the blackwork plus signs in vintage black silk thread. Couching gold cording to the ruffles looks really nice. On the sleeves I also did insertion seams and a simplified motif of the one at the neckline. I’m not entirely sure I have the time to do insertion on all seams, if I have a chance I’ll go back to it.




I drafted the bodice using the bara system in the book The Modern Maker II. For the bodice interlining I recycled a cotton twill bag I had. I used two layers and pad stitched wool Melton in the center front for body. I cut and stitched the pink silk to the outside and added bias to the neckline. Bones (large zip ties) were inserted into channels at the sides where laces will go. I started cutting out my embroidery I’d stitched out and couching it like appliqué. Then I framed it with gold soutache. I’m working on the sleeves now. And adding the eyelets with pink silk buttonhole twist. Mostly I need to keep making far more trim for the sleeves and hem.




Very little has been done on the partlet other than pinning where the lines will go. And I’ve been looking quite a bit at her hair. Originally I thought she was wearing a rete, or snood, but I’m not sure anymore. Even up close I see braids, but not any criss-cross lines of a snood. Perhaps it is just braids and s strand of jeweled pearls as a head band? I will have to think more about that.

I also started making pearl aiglets for the sleeves.