The Ninth Annual Italian Renaissance Costuming Challenge

April 1 to July 31, 2019


Eva Bolinder
Västerbotten, Sweden

My name is Eva Bolinder, I live in Västerbotten, Sweden. I'm a member of the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) since a few years back, where I'm known as Mira, from the Shire of Uma, in Nordmark.

I am an Italian Renaissance novice. I have made some pretty basic medieval garb and other dresses before, and am really looking forward to making something Italian.

My main inspiration is Sofonisba Anguissola's painting 'Three Children With Dog'. I plan to make a camicia (and drawers, if time is on my side), underskirt (possibly roped skirt too), sottana, lastly partlet and at least a pocket, maybe some necklace(s), a hair snood and stockings. Alternatively if no camicia or that part goes unwell, a partlet as underwear layer.


(Updates listed in reverse order)


Third Update: June Progress


Item started but not completed:

Roped Petticoat

I had grand plans for all the things I thought I'd have time to sew this month. Alas, I didn't even manage to complete the roped petticoat I had planned.

I thought I was going to make it before this month's deadline, but too tired and pricking my left thumb, twice, resulting in tiny blod droplets, made me realise, nope, best aim for next month with more chocolate and better planning at my disposal.

Looking at petticoats, most have a rather slim construction, and I wanted to try the kind of skirt construction that was common in the 18th century (and who knows, maybe it was used back in the Italian Renaissance too?), since it allows the wearer to use pockets/saccocia that are worn very close to the body. Not to mention simply getting the pockets out of the way overall, so people can ogle the pretty sottana. ;)

I first had an idea about using two layers of linen fabric and then sew hemp cord inbetween, but ended up rolling the hemline up, and sort of pinching the fabric together in two places where I added the cord, and then rolled the lower hemline up to add the third corded rope hemp section there.





After having watched about season of a series sewing on the roped petticoat on and off, and when trying it on, I saw that it was indeed too wide, drats. So I had to chop a bit off at the side... and still working on completing it! Because all those loose cords needed fixing, and the folded bits of the linen fabric needs sewing down too.




Next month I will finish the roped petticoat, start on the calzone (I've read thigh chafing is not so much fun, and often forgotten aspect when wearing dresses) and an underskirt (I think it's best to try at least, since I think the fall of the sottana will look better with something more underneath). And then try and finish all the accessories I can.




Second Update: May Progress


Item completed this month:


Apparently I made most seams double fell-ish to more or less degree, so I've now finished adding an extra seam to them so no loose "flaps". I earlier thought just some of them were like this, but this proves better to sew a bit every now and then and stay focused, and not procrastinate so much ;)

I also finished sewing the wrist cuffs and underarm cuffs on the sleeves. I discovered I had not attached one sleeve as well as I thought I had, so an extra seam to keep that in place, and I removed the silk thread I used to gather up the sleeves before attaching them.

In the photo of the inside of a finished sleeve, one can see the needle marks from when I tried to see if I could close the entire sleeve end together (with pinning needles) and add a new separate cuff, but things got a bit too tight and odd for that approach.



I tried to reinforce the seams at the top of the side gores. Perhaps it had been better to put it on the inside rather than the outside. Or if another style had been better. I guess I was foremost inspired by adorable butterfly shaped reinforcement seams I saw on kimono, mine are not so neat nor dandy however.

I added a very basic V-like pattern to the front part of the added collar of the camicia. It didn't feel quite right, but it just felt too plain without anything there. Since the plan is to use stripey fabric for the sottana, I feel too many details on the camicia's collar and cuffs would be over the top. The camicia in the painting also appear more subdued.



I've not sewn as much as I had planned and wanted this month, but at least I've managed to convince myself better to complete the camicia and redo or rework things that didn't work so well for the next one!

But yup, my very first handsewn camicia is done :)



My vacation starts mid June though, so the plan is to start and finish the underskirt, and tweak the sottana pattern more.




First Update: April Progress


Item started this month but not yet completed:


I started with the camicia, and at first I was very indecisive on just what design to use. Reading "The Evolution of the Camicia" by Baroness Rainillt Leia de Bello Marisco (mka Lee Ann Posavad), and discussing things in the Facebook group (thank you, creatively inspiring and helpful people!) helped me decide on a more flat and not so voluminous front design, with underarm gussets and side gores. I also added a square collar thing that helped raise the collar-line a bit too, whew.

In hindsight I could perhaps have used the more common design, and added a square collar to that. And drats, I thought I cut the fabric generously enough, but apparently not, since the camicia barely reaches my knees.

In the painting it appears the volume of the sleeves is mostly vertical, rather than horizontal, read: veeeery long sleeves, or at least at the top, but otherwise not overly snug but still giving a slim look over the arms, and dainty wrist cuff details.

To get the pleated effect on the upper sleeve area before sewing it to the body piece, I used silk thread of unknown gauge to gather the fabric. And oops, this thread is actually visible, should have either attached sleeves further in to avoid this showing, or removed it. Hmm.






I pondered doing like Laurie Tavan did for her lovely Florentine outfit, adding a separate underarm cuff and wrist cuff to a poufy upper sleeve like shown in more detail here. But in the end after not being very happy with my toile for a sleeve with three parts, I decided to try something also inspired by the painting "Judith with the head of Holofernes" (ca 1525) by Vincenzo Catena, that she too used for inspiration. This enabled me to flatten away most of the excess fabric on the lower end of the sleeve. Although the pleats could perhaps have been slightly smaller, to not be too noticeable as such.

I worry the overall length of the sleeve is too short though, and that a separate cuff (with buttons) would have been the smarter choice not just for this reason, but for an even snugger fit around the wrists (and I'm not very happy with the chaotic looking seams, compared to how nice and neat it looks in the portrait). Alas, one way to find out soon.

It's a good thing this is a garment is an underlayer, since in some places I made the inwards fold overlap too much, and instead made double fell seam. I don't remember the English term, but I think in Swedish it's commonly referred to as tältsöm, tent seam, that means I need to add another seam to flatten it down on the outside as well.


I'm determined to try to sew most if not all of this project by hand. The camicia fabric used is 4 oz linen, combined with 60/2 linen thread (and a slightly larger needle and beeswax, praised be bees, yup!) Overall, sewing by hand isn't too frustrating, I just need to remember to do it little by little, and keep practicing to get those neat stitches and how not to stab myself in the fingers, repeatedly. ;)

For next month, extra flat-fell fix, finish sleeves and cuffs, and I might do some basic embroidery details/whitework on the cuffs and the collar. Either way, I plan to finish the camicia before the end of May, and start on the underskirt.



I've also started on the pattern for the sottana bodice.

I've made some basic toiles for the bodice of the sottana, mainly to see if the camicia collar line would work or not, and to get an idea of whether camicia gussets and sottana armscyes would work out. Those straps and center front though, if one looks good, the other one doesn't, still needs lots more toil(e)ing away.