The Ninth Annual Italian Renaissance Costuming Challenge

April 1 to July 31, 2019


Crystal Tice
Iowa, USA

I have been involved in the Society for Creative Anachronism since 2011 where I am known as Zaneta Baseggio and reside in the Canton of Axed Root. I have been making Italian gowns off and on ranging from the 14th century to late 16th century. In the past couple of years, I have stepped away from the machine and have started sewing outfits by hand.

My inspirations for this challenge are the 1510's portraits with the huge bag sleeves like La Schiavona and del Piombo's Daughter of Herodias. My second attempt at Venetian garb was based on these portraits. I am looking forward to revisiting the style with a bit more sewing skill.

I plan on making a camicia, underskirt, and an over-gown with sleeves. For the final layer of accessories, I plan on making a partlet, an apron or sash, a coif, and a pair of shoes.


(Updates listed in reverse order)

Third Update: June Progress


Item Completed This Month:

Overdress with Sleeves

This month I completed my overdress and sleeves. All work this month was done by hand.

First, I finished up the stitching on the neckline of the bodice. Once that was done, I knife pleated the skirt to the lining of the bodice. I then turned the lining inside and folded in the seam allowance of the outside fabric. The outside was whipstitched to the skirt to hold it in place. I went back and used a running stitch/back stitch to secure the skirt in place and hopefully to keep the seam allowances from bunching up between the layers once it is washed. I left small gaps of skirt fabric unpleated between the side openings of the bodice. The edges of the gap were turned under and whipstitched to hide the raw edges.

To close the bodice, I attached lacing rings to twill tape. The tape was then whipstitched into place. I went back over the tape with a running stitch to make sure I caught all layers for added strength. I wrapped the ends of lucet cord so that they would function as aiglets. Once the dress was wearable, my husband marked out the bottom hem for me and I finished it up with a whipstitch.

I am always afraid that the edges of lined things like bags or sleeves are going to get out of place. Since my sleeves are pretty much just closed fabric tubes, I went around three edges with a running stitch to hold the fabric in place. Lacing rings were added to both sides at the wrist and elbow so that the sleeves could be tied together as needed. I added knife pleats to the fourth edge to reduce the size of the armscye from 40 inches to 25 inches. Several portraits of this type of dress/sleeve look like they have pleats falling from the shoulder. I sewed the pleats down with a running/back stitch and finished off the fourth edge with a running stitch.

To close the sleeve and attach it to the dress, I sewed lacing rings to twill tape again. I put five rings on the tape and offset them just slightly. There are two rings toward the front side of the shoulder and three toward the backside. The center ring was placed just behind the midpoint. The tape was sewed to the sleeves to hold them closed. Matching tape and rings were added to the shoulders of the dress but set back from the edge slightly. Hopefully this will hide the join a little bit. More lucet cord was used to tie the sleeves into place.








Second Update: May Progress


Items started but not yet completed:

1. Dress

This month, I worked on my third layer and an extra accessory but neither were completed. My third layer is a linen gown with wide, baggy sleeves.

Before the challenge started, I had a friend help pattern the bodice by draping and pinning. We have been trading draping help for years. Based on the portraits of the time period, I put a square neck on the front side of the bodice and a curved neck on the back. Both the lining and the main fabric are linen. The lining is a cotton duck canvas. Since this bodice does not require as much support as some others, there is only a single layer of canvas.

Once the layers were cut out, I machine sewed the canvas to the lining. Everything else was done by hand. I sewed the outer fabric to the lining using a backstitch. I didn't sew all the way up the shoulders to make it easier to attach the two sides together. Once both sides were sewn together and turned inside out, I matched up the lining shoulders and sewed them together. The seams were pushed to one side and the main fabric was matched and pinned in place. I used a whipstitch across the top of the main fabric. One side was nice and easy, the other was a bit fiddly as I ended up without as much seam allowance as I should have had. The side openings were then sewn together to catch all the edges inside the shoulders.



One of my inspiration portraits has a contrasting band around the neckline. I made bias tape from linen and pinned it around the neckline. I am using a running stitch to tack the bias in place.



The skirt for the dress is comprised of two panels that were machine sewn together. I hand sewed the seam finishing. The sleeves were cut out as two rectangles. The lining and main fabric were sewn together mostly by machine. I turned them right side out, ironed them, and finished off the openings by hand. I plan on either adding trim along the edges with the ties or using a running stitch in the same color to keep the edges neat.


2. Garters / Sash

This month, I also warped up my baby loom with a new tablet weaving pattern I wanted to try for my sash. There is enough warped that this sample piece will become a pair of garters when I am done. The pattern is a simple forward back pattern that produces a muted checkerboard look in the right light. My second inspiration portrait, La Schiavona, has a sash with a muted pattern and so this will be my take on it.




First Update: April Progress

Items completed this month:

1. Camicia

This month I spent my time on my under layers.

My camicia is made of a lightweight linen. I used the width of the fabric as my front and back panels. I divided the width in half for each sleeve. There are nine inch gussets under each arm. I followed the instructions from Bella's website for construction. The seams were sewn by machine and then flat felled by hand. I hand sewed a small hem around the neck, hem, and sleeves. Once all the edges were finished, I cartridge pleated the neckline with two lines of running stitch. The pleats were then pulled to the size I wanted and sewn down to a twill ribbon.



2. Padded Underskirt

The skirt is a middle weight linen made of two panels. The panels were sewn by machine and everything else was hand sewn. I pleated the top of the skirt and attached it to the waist band. Eyelets were added to one side and a lucet cord to the other for closure. Once the waist band was sewn in place, my husband marked the hem line for me in chalk. I decided to experiment with the underskirt and added a stiffened hem. I took the extra length of skirt that had been cut off from the bottom and used it as facing. Wool blend felt was cut into strips and tacked together to create the length I needed. The facing fabric was folded around the felt and pinned slightly lower than the folded edge of the skirt. I then used a running stitch to sew the two together. Once that was done, I used a whipstitch across the top of the facing/felt to attach it to the skirt. I tried to catch the felt just a little bit on both sides so that it will stay in place. It definitely 'poofed' the skirt a bit and I am liking the way it looks.



The completed items: Layer 1, camicia and layer 2, padded underskirt.