The Ninth Annual Italian Renaissance Costuming Challenge

April 1 to July 31, 2019


Kathleen Zanardo
Sydney, Australia

Hi, my name is Kathleen Zanardo. This is the second year I have entered the IRCC and the second Italian Renaissance costume I have sewn. I have been sewing since I was a teenager.

My proposed outfit will be a faithful reproduction of the outfit in Parmigianino's "Antea". The painting was executed in 1535 in the city of Parma. My outfit will be made for my adult daughter, who bears a slight resemblance to Antea.

My outfit will comprise of a horizontally striped sottana with puffed sleeves, a brown partlet with a hand-printed pattern, a camicia with embroidered blackwork cuffs, an apron with blackwork embroidery, handmade suede gloves, and a zibellino.

To complete the outfit I will also make a corset, an underskirt and a pair of drawers. During March I will start the blackwork embroidery on the cuffs and apron.


(Updates listed in reverse order)

First Update: April Progress

Parmigianino's "Antea" is dressed in luxurious clothing which suggests she is a young woman of great wealth. There is much symbolism in the items of clothing worn by Antea which suggest they were all possible gifts from a suitor. She is wearing a gold satin dress with silver bands, a golden brown partlet with a lozenge (diamond-shaped) pattern, a camicia and apron richly decorated with fine blackwork embroidery, dark brown gloves, a marten fur stole complete with head, and jewelry (a gold chain, head brooch, earrings and a ring).

My long-held plan for making the outfit for "Antea" was realized when I came across 6 metres of striped gold and brown satin fabric in a second-hand shop that was perfect for the sottana. Following this find I added to the fabric collection with a mix of other second-hand fabric and some new purchases. I have decided against trying to make a zibellino as a friend of mine has lent me a vintage marten stole that will be perfect for the completed outfit.


Items completed this month:

1. The Underskirt

The underskirt is made from a dull yellow cotton fabric. It is constructed from two large rectangles that are sewn together and gathered at the waist. The side opening is held together with a cord made from plaited embroidery thread.

The underskirt is completed.



2. Gloves

In the painting of 'Antea' she is seen wearing a brown glove on her right hand and holding the left glove also in her right hand. As I had never before sewn a pair of gloves I was keen to learn a new skill. I purchased a commercial glove pattern with various historical designs. The fabric is a faux suede in a deep chocolate brown and the lining is a patterned cotton fabric. The sewing is mostly done on the machine, with a few awkward parts done by hand sewing. It was quite a fiddle to sew in the gussets between the fingers. I am quite pleased with the result and I'd like to attempt another pair some day.

The gloves are completed.






Items started but not yet completed:


The only part of the camicia that shows in Parmigianino's painting are the cuffs which are elaborately decorated with blackwork embroidery. I calculated the proportions of the embroidered design by comparing it to the proportions of the woman's hand. I drafted the pattern onto graph paper and hand-stitched the design in black silk thread onto white lawn fabric. The stitches used are satin stitch and back stitch.

The camicia is not yet completed.




"Antea" is wearing a narrow white apron that is embroidered with three bands of blackwork embroidery. Upper-class women of the 16th century often wore aprons which showcased their hand-sewn needlework and were not intended for practical household work. I drafted a simplified version of the design and I have partially embroidered it onto white cotton fabric.

The apron is not yet completed.