Hannah Fuhriman: A Late 16th Century Zimarra (Loose Gown)

For this challenge I have created a late 16th century zimarra or loose gown. I was inspired primarily by two portraits. Firstly Gian Paolo Lolmo’s ‘Portrait of a Woman Aged 19 Years’ from the 1580’s. I took my color scheme of pink and black from this portrait, as well as the general shape of the sleeves and high collar. Secondly, Alessandro Allori's 'Portrait of a Woman' which also from the 1580’s. This portrait also has the bright pink lining, and I patterned the motifs for my applique off of the motifs on the sitter’s over dress. 

I am a person that gets cold very easily, so the primary function of this garment is provide lots of warmth. I used heavy black wool for the outer and a bright pink cotton flannel for the lining. The latter is not period, as cotton flannel had not yet been produced in the late 16th century, but I chose it for its warmth and affordability. Silk would have mostly likely been the favored material for lining a loose gown of a noble woman. I also used cotton thread for the construction, for the thread covered buttons, the embroidery, and the lucet cord which I used for couching, as it was what I had available to me and already in my stash. In period, silk thread would have been the likely choice used for embroidery and possibly for the construction.

I constructed the garment almost entirely by hand, with the exception of several of the longer internal seams where I used the machine. The pattern is fairly simple, consisting of two front pieces, back, side gores, collar and then the sleeves and shoulder roll pieces. It is bag lined. I applied approximately 95 pieces to the wool with satin stitch to create the trim, followed by approximately 20 yards of lucet cord couched down to create the borders and the button loops. I first couched the cord down with pink cotton thread and then went over them again with a blood-red cotton crochet thread to create more of a candy-cane like stripe. I made about 50 thread covered buttons. I started by wanting to cover them all with a basket weave pattern, but that took far too much time, and so I settled for a more basic thread covered button, using a wood bead as the core. I used black cotton crochet thread and pink embroidery floss for the buttons. I also chose to bead some of the motifs using blood-red glass beads, but they are almost invisible on the finished garment unless you look very closely. 
I am very happy with how this garment turned out. If I were to do it again, I would like to take more time and invest in more period-correct materials and perhaps fill in the border motif allot more. But for a functional (washable!) garment intended to be worn to camping events, this one has quite enough detail for me.

Thank-you to Bella for putting on this challenge:-) I had a great time and am very excited to see what everyone has made!



© 2001 - 2011 Anabella Wake (Known in the SCA as Bella Lucia da Verona) I hold copyright on all information on these pages, and on all images of clothing/costume that I have made. You are allowed to make one facsimile copy for your own use provided that this notice is included on each page. Please ask permission to copy, disseminate and/or distribute my work - I would like to know when and how you are finding this information of use.