Extant Italian Shifts (Camicie)

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Binney, Florence

16th Century

A while back I was told about an online copy of an old book called Old Italian Lace, by Elisa Ricci, which can be downloaded in several large PDFs. In it I found references to several extant camicie, all of which are gorgeously worked. Of course I just had to download all the files (took me quite a while, and I was pleasantly but unexpectedly interrupted by a comp upgrade too!) and printed them out.

This camicia is located in the section of the book dealing with "Mondano or Lacis, Drawn-Thread Work. Buratto." It is described as a "shirt, embroidered in curl stitch and drawn work; the seams are hidden with small insertions of ivory stitch." In the text the author describes the method of working these camicie.


"As the use of white linen gradually became customary during the XV century, women were not long in trying to find something more suitable for trimming it than the gold and silver, and coloured silk embroideries applied to dress fabrics [...] At first they tried white embroidery upon white, finding that the beauty of the linen was not spoiled thereby, and that the frequent washing did no damage to the work. Some few examples of counted-thread work, satin stitch and curl stitch with figures of animals, ornaments or sacred mottoes have lasted until today; in addition to these, we have seen curl-stitch alternating with other stitches, giving a most curious effect of white relief on white."

Ricci, Elisa - Old Italian Lace Vols I and II, William Heinemann 1913


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