The Tenth Italian Renaissance Costuming Challenge

April 1 2020 to January 31 2021


The Challenge

Welcome to IRCC 10. Please read the following carefully as this year's challenge will be different from previous years.

This year the Italian Renaissance Costuming Challenge will be run over 10 months. The challenge, as in previous years, is to create and complete one, or more, man's, woman's or child's outfit from the skin out, of a style circa 1480 to 1600. However, unlike in previous years, the outfit/s must be comprised of ten items/*sets of items. One item or set of items MUST be completed every month in order to remain in the challenge. Outfits can represent any social class, but if more than one is completed they both must be from the same class.

*One set of items = earrings, necklace/s, bracelets, ring/s.

Please note: this year I have decided to run the IRCC on Facebook Groups. You will find the group and more information, HERE

Registration will open on Sunday, March 1 2020, and will close 11:59PM Tuesday, March 31, 2020. The challenge proper will begin on April 1, 2020. For more detail please see the Challenge Schedule below under The Details.

Items of hand-work that are labour intensive can be started immediately, before the official start date. These may include, for example, extensive embroidery on trim destined for an outer layer, or on panels for underwear (not counting insertion-stitch joining), making lace, weaving of anything larger than a garter/s, making your own buttons in quantities, etc.

No cutting-out or assembly of any part of any accessory or garment can be done before the beginning of the challenge. If you have any questions about what can be worked on in the time leading up to the challenge please e-mail me at the address at the bottom of this page. You will need to provide a photo/s of the complete or nearly complete, length of hand-made lace, or embroidered fabric, or woven textile, etc., with your registration when registration begins in March.

The Details

Challenge Schedule
Please note: all dates given are for YOUR time zone. So please follow the date on your clock and calendar.

Until March 31, 2020: Plan And Buy.
Plan your outfit layers and accessories. Acquire what you will need for your planned outfit, and begin work only on any extensive handwork items such as lace-making, extensive embroidery (on flat fabric panels, not pre-cut pattern pieces), weaving (of anything other than garters). 

March 1 to 31, 2020: Registration.
Register as an entrant in the IRCC 10. You will need to provide me with the details listed below under the heading How to Register, and a photo of any items of extensive hand-work completed in the period leading up to registration, if any. Continue with planning and buying for your outfit, and working on your items of extensive handwork.

Please note: I reserve the right to refuse entry to any participant, but I will not do so arbitrarily.

April 1 2020 to January 31 2021: Let The Sewing Begin!
Cut, stitch, assemble, and complete your outfit (see below for details). Participants' updates and photos are due the first day of the month (outlining and briefly documenting what was completed as a post on the Facebook Group previously mentioned), beginning May 1, 2020, and continuing until January 1, 2021, then again on January 31, 2021. Final photos will be due February 14, 2021.

Your outfit needs to be comprised of the following:

Layer 1: One or more camicia/shift/smock/shirt or drawers or corset/pair of bodies. One item of your outfit MUST be an underwear layer. I will also accept a partlet or a stomacher as an underwear layer, but in this case it cannot also be counted as an accessory.

Layer 2: Either an under-skirt or under-dress/petticoat with sleeves, or doublet and 'trunk-hose'/slops/breeches, or jerkin/sleeveless doublet worn over another garment.

Layer 3: The final layer will be either an over-dress/gown, or a doublet and hose, or a loose gown, or a cloak/cape. 

Layer 4: An accessory or accessories. There is no maximum number of accessories this year. I will count items either individually or as sets, for example:

  • a fan
  • a pocket
  • a pouch
  • a hat, hair net or jewelled accessory for the hair
  • a zibellino (also known as a "flea fur")
  • a hanky
  • a veil
  • a pair of gloves
  • a girdle, belt or sash
  • a pair of shoes
  • a partlet
  • a stomacher
  • one or more sets of jewellery: earrings, necklace/s, bracelet/s, and ring/s, or any combination thereof.
  • a set of Venetian shoulder/neck ruffs (if they are separate from the partlet - if attached will be counted as one item with the partlet)
  • standing ruff/collar
  • parasol
  • muff.


Important points to note:

  • Don't forget to send a progress photo and description of what you have been working on, each month, according to the schedule listed in the 'Rules', below, to the Facebook group.
  • An in-progress photo or photos of each and every item making up the four required layers MUST be uploaded to the group: don't just send a photo of the completed item. The progress photo/s do not have to be on the body.
  • Anything which has been completed must be photographed in its entirety, not close-up, so I can see the item in full.


Photo and Report Requirements for IRCC10:

  1. Please create an album/folder for your photos with your name (e.g. Bella Simoes).
  2. Create a document and name it your name (e.g. Bella Simoes) and upload it to the 'Files' section of the group. There's no need to add anything to it yet (unless the system won't accept a blank file, in which case just add anything you want to it). You'll be adding to the file by revising it every month, as well as posting to the group.
  3. Please give each month's write-up/post a title comprising of your name and your completed item (e.g. Bella - Camicia)
  4. Each photo you upload should likewise be named with your name, name of month, and name of the item/s (Bella - April - Camicia).
  • Please DON'T date-stamp your photos.
  • Please DON'T send composite images.


February 14 2021: Final Photos and Final Update

Photograph your finished outfit on the body (on the body is not required for underwear layer), and from the skin out, and send me the photos and write-up. This final update will be sent to me via email, not to the Facebook Group.

I require, as a minimum, the following photos:

  • Three full-length (do not crop out head or feet/hemline) of the front, back and side of the complete outfit or outfits, including accessories, worn on the body. (These MUST be sent during the photo submission period at the end).

  • Three full-length (do not crop out head or feet/hemline) of the front, back and side of both the under-wear alone, and main layer worn on the body over the underwear layer. If you would prefer to photograph the underwear layer on a mannequin that's fine too, so long as items can be clearly seen.

  • Detail shots of each accessory.

  • One artistic/freestyle photo in a location or setting that is in some way Italian Renaissance in style or feel. To see what I mean by this, click here. 

Final Photo and Report Requirements:

  • If you need to use a mobile phone or tablet computer camera, please ensure that the images you send are clear, taken in daylight or in good lighting at the very least, not blurred or otherwise unuseable.
  • Do not date stamp your photos.
  • Make sure your camera is set to take photos at its highest resolution. I prefer photos submitted to be a minimum of 1500 pixels wide. If I can't see your work, I can't evaluate it properly.
  • Also, please be sure itemise your outfit pieces, note whether complete or incomplete, and to address what has and hasn't been hand-sewn or hand-made in all your items in the final write-up.


Winners will be announced some time after February 15, 2019.
Winners will be announced via this website, the Tenth Italian Renaissance Costuming Challenge Group, as well as the 'Realm of Venus' Facebook Page and 'Costume and Culture in Late Renaissance Italy' Facebook Group.

How to Register

To register to enter, please send me an e-mail on or after March 1 2020, and by no later than March 31 2020, with these details listed:

  1. Your full legal name (I am happy to use an alias for your privacy and safety, if required. Just let me know in your email.
  2. Your location: state/province and country only. Please don't abbreviate your state's name. I'm an Aussie. Getting better at recognising US state abbreviations, but still need to work on it.
  3. A short (three to four sentences-length) bio/introduction, including whether you are either a novice to sewing or novice to Italian Renaissance costume (as defined in the rules, below).
  4. A short description of your proposed outfit or outfits, or if you want to you can list all ten items/sets of items. It's a good idea to know what you're intending to make before the challenge starts, so you can go ahead and begin extensive handwork and otherwise plan your entry, but you can change your mind later, should you need to.
  5. Photo/s of any extensive handwork begun prior to registration which you wish to include in your challenge outfit.
  6. A current head and shoulders colour photo of yourself for inclusion in your page. Please do not send a photo of someone else wearing clothing you have made.  High resolution and big picture is good (I can crop and re-size!), but it must be at least of a high enough resolution to for us to clearly see you.
  7. Note to past participants: please send a photo, even if you've sent one in the past. Full-size is best.

Please note: if any of the above are not provided your registration will be invalid and most likely deleted. I am sorry to have to take such a hard line, but it will save me having to chase people up with reminders to send photos or the like.

The Rules


  1. All items must be started ON or AFTER April 1 2020, except in the case of items of extensive handwork, such as lace-making, extensive embroidery, weaving other than garters, etc., or one of the underwear items listed above.

  2. At least one item of underwear must be made from scratch within the competition period.

  3. One item or set of items must be completed in each of the tenth months of the challenge. That doesn't mean you have to complete a masterwork gown in one month - you can begin your item that's going to take you the longest in the first month and complete it by the last month, but you will need to also begin and complete a smaller item or set of items to present each month. You can have all ten items on the go at the same time, or work on them one at a time - it's up to you!

  4. This is a challenge for individuals, not groups, therefore only items sewn or assembled by the by the entrant with no help from anyone else will be accepted. However, help with pattern drafting, draping, and/or fitting is allowed. Use of commercial patterns is also allowed.

  5. You may enter multiple outfits if you wish. Points will be calculated cumulatively, not on a per-outfit basis. Your items should be designed to look good worn together as an outfit.

  6. Progress photos and a one or two paragraph progress report must be uploaded to your folder on the IRCC 10 Facebook Group every month minimum, by these deadlines: May 1, June 1, July 1, August 1, September 1, November 1, December 1, January 1, and one more by January 31. If you fail to report, you will lose your place in the challenge and must delete your folder and its contents. You may, of course, remain in the group.

    The final shots of the outfit must be sent directly to me by no later than 11:59PM on Sunday, February 14 2021
    This period is to enable you to take the final and artistic shots without feeling rushed to do so.  The photos  of the completed outfit should be: 
    three full-length (do not crop out head or feet/hemline) of the front, back and side of the complete outfit worn on the body. 
    three full-length (do not crop out head or feet/hemline) of the front, back and side of both the under-wear alone, and main layer worn on the body over the underwear layer. If you would prefer to photograph the underwear layer on a mannequin that's fine too, so long as items can be clearly seen. 
    Detail shots of each accessory. 
    One artistic/freestyle photo in a location or setting that is in some way Italian Renaissance in style or feel, wearing all layers and accessories. If you arrange to take the artistic photos as part of a group, please ensure that each member of the group takes her/his photo in a location which differs from the other members of the group, otherwise I will end up with several artistic shots which are almost identical. To see an example of what I mean by an artistic/freestyle shot, click here.

  7. A written summation of your outfit must accompany the final photos and should itemise the complete and incomplete items you made/attempted.

  8. Points will be allocated as follows:

Layer and Handwork Points:
10 points for each layer completed.
10 points for each inclusion of complex HANDWORK (that is, other than sewing straight seams or hemming, sewing on trim, etc..) This could include things like lengths of hand-made lace, buttons, embroidery, hand-done eyelets, weaving, hand-making shoes, etc.. If in doubt, email me at the address below.
The above points will be awarded to everyone who finishes, according to the criteria.
Other Points:
Additionally, the points below will be allocated to the persons who best meet the criteria:
20 points for the best attempt by a SEWING NOVICE 
(A novice for this purpose is someone with less than three years of sewing experience).
20 points for the best attempt by a NOVICE IN ITALIAN RENAISSANCE COSTUME 
(A novice for this purpose is someone who has attempted less than three
late Italian Renaissance (late 15th-16th century)  outfits prior to this challenge).
20 points for the best attempt at historically accurate. DESIGN (Colours/Fabric Choices/Patterns/Locale and Date Accuracy)
20 points for the best attempt at Hist. Acc. CONSTRUCTION (hand work, closures, pleating, padding, etc., but does not include textiles used: both period-available and not will be placed on an equal footing to allow for differing budgets.
20 points for the best artistic/freestyle PHOTO (from final photo submission, either standing or sitting).

The OVERALL WINNER will be the person with the highest total points from ALL categories above. In addition, I will choose winners for BEST HAIRSTYLE OR HEADWEAR, BEST ACCESSORY, BEST USE OF HANDWORK. However, these categories do not accrue points.

All entries will be evaluated by me, with the option of enlisting the help of volunteers should the number of entrants get unwieldy. 

Thank you.

Bella Lucia da Verona
(Anabella Simoes)
The Realm of Venus