Extant Italian Shifts (Camicie)

Victoria and Albert Museum, London

17th Century Italian

This is the 17th century camicia which is believed to be Italian, housed at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, examined by Dorothy Burnham in her book Cut My Cote. If you would like to know how I construct this camicia, please click here:

Since I don't don't yet have an image of this camicia, I have included here the diagram from Burnham's book. As you can see, except for the treatment of the neckline, it very much resembles the first Met Museum camicia shown.

I wrote to the very helpful assistant curator of the V&A's Furniture, Textiles and Fashion department, who provided me with a great description.

The following was written at the time the V&A acquired the camicia in 1919:

"...of linen, embroidered with brightly coloured silks partly in satin stitch, and applied yellow silk cord. It is trimmed with silk bobbin lace. Italian, 17th century. Length: 3 ft, 5 in; greatest width across sleeves = 4 ft 7 in. Width bottom of skirt = 3 ft 5 in. Cut slightly curved at the neck back and front, and closely pleated. The sleeves are full with wide gussets, and they tie with cords at the wrists. Vertical pattern all round of detached blossoms arranged in eight double rows. Close repeating rows of floral sprigs cover the sleeves. The lace trimming* is narrow and scalloped in red and yellow".

*NB. the description was revised in 1992 saying that it's rather woven braid trimming.

**Since the above was written I have been fortunate enough to find Katherine via one of the costuming lists I'm on. Katherine was lucky enough to examine this camicia up close and personal, and has generously shared her information with me. This is what she has found:

1. Gussets are 9 inch squares (on each side)
2. The distance from lowest gusset to neck 'edge' is 13 inches, therefore the gussets should be set four inches lower.
3. Sleeves are 25 inches wide (mid point, i.e. 12.5 inches when folded in half)
4. Neck circumference is approx. 26 inches.
5. Overall length is 39 inches (neck to hem)
6. Centre panel is 28 inches, side panels (2 of) are 14 inches.


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2001 - 2010 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.