The Ninth Annual Italian Renaissance Costuming Challenge

April 1 to July 31, 2019


Ellen Legros
Louisiana, USA

I am an English teacher by day and a costumer by night. I have previously created a number of costumes for the SCA, but only recently focused on the Italian Renaissance, as I felt my sewing skills were not sufficient to do the beautiful fabrics justice. My previous ventures include an early Renaissance dress and last year's entry- a 1560's style dress. This will be my third venture into Renaissance costuming and my second year to enter the IRCC. I recently purchased The Modern Maker, and am excited to try out the technique.

Layer 1 Underwear: My plan is to create a farthingale using Alcega's technique (The Modern Maker) and barras tape, using some taffeta and clear plastic tubing (as a stiffener) from my stash.
Layer 2 Dress: A sottana using Margo Anderson's Pattern from blue cotton sateen.
Layer 3 Over Gown: Either a back laced Gown or Loose Overcoat (The Modern Maker) out of chenille damask.
Layer 4 Accessories: A belt scavenged from a gold chain belt (thrift store find) and a zibellino from a re-purposed 1960's fur stole.

(Updates listed in reverse order)


First Update: April Progress


Items started but not yet completed:

Farthingale/Roped Petticoat

This month has been a bit crazy with school and home renovations and I have not gotten as much done as I would have liked.

I began with first making baras tapes, using The Modern Maker,Vol. 2, which was hard to wrap my head around, but fairly easy to use - in theory. I’m still relatively newish to sewing complicated things, and am not sure that I am drawing out the curves as correctly as I should, but I think I did pretty well for the first time.


I used the baras tapes to make a pattern for a farthingale based on Alcega’s instructions, as interpreted by Gagny. I originally was going for a lovely, heavy navy satin fabric, but when I finished, and pinned the plastic tubing I am using for structure in place, I could not fit through the doorway. I think that my weight and height ratio (the waist baras tape is used for skirt width) made it a great deal wider than it appears in most period images. I decided to keep the skirt as is and use it as the underskirt or sottana layer instead, as I have enough material to create a bodice if I choose.



I then dug through my stash and found a lovely linen canvas in scarlet, and went back to my Margo Anderson pattern for the roped underskirt. The lines and width look and feel more appropriate for the late 16th century outfit I want. I have not yet finished inserting the tubing into the skirt, and still need a waist band, but about half done. I’m pleased with the color (always wanted a red petticoat), weight, and breathability for the climate. Summers hit 100 degrees Fahrenheit with 100% humidity most days here, and winter events tend to be warm and muggy, as well.


I also drafted the pattern for a bodice, based on the baras system, but have not cut out a sloper yet. I’m still deciding if I want a pointed waist or not, and whether I want the bodice to show under the doublet or not.

School ends next month, our house should be ready to sell and we have a new house in our sight, so I may not get as much done as I hope. Fingers crossed!