The Realm of Venus Presents....

talian howcase


Dame Karis Pursey

SCA Participant
A Venetian Gown in the style of the 1570s


Karis Says...

Hello! I am Dame Karis Pursey, I have been a member of the SCA since 1991.  After paying someone to make my first SCA outfit I decided there had to be a better way and began my long journey into costuming.  I have had a love for late period costuming since I was a teenager and truly appreciate the elaborate and truly amazing details in almost any style of clothing from the 1500’s to the end of Queen Elizabeth’s reign.  

 The main inspiration for this particular gown came from all the wonderful information gained from this site, and the desire to try something new.  I agree with the other ladies in saying that this is one of the most “girlish” gowns I have worn.  Although I didn’t spend much time researching this particular gown, I look forward to learning more about this time period and this style of clothing and have already found the perfect fabric for my next project.   

My inspiration for this gown came from a phone call I received from my best friend Dame Fearga.  She thought it would be a lot of fun to try something we hadn’t done yet for our upcoming Twelfth Night celebration and we had both been drooling over all the wonderful gowns that had been showcased on Bella’s wonderful site so we did it, and this is the result.

Part of the fun of making this gown was the challenge to spend as little money to make it as possible so I started by searching through my personal fabric supplies, then headed off to our local thrift shop which has a wonderful craft & fabric section.  I spent a grand total of $30 on this project for the fabric and buttons that I did not have in my own supply.  I think I succeeded in my own challenge!

Close-up of buttons, camicia fabric and gold lace trimming   The fabric for the camicia is ivory linen with a lovely woven knot work pattern and gold threads alternating in rows (one of my thrift store finds & just enough to make the camicia), and is edged around the neckline and cuffs with a fine gold lace.


The gown is a wonderful teal green floral brocade in a diamond pattern (I have an odd attraction to diamond patterns) that I was given as a gift many years ago by Fearga.  I think the diamond pattern blends very well with the cut of the bodice.  The bodice is laced using the technique Jen Thompson uses to keep the lacing parallel and it works like a charm, thank you Jen for the information

.Bodice under construction



The sleeves are lined in a gold tone silk taffeta (another of my thrift store finds) and are attached to the bodice with gold & pearl buttons.  I had searched for the perfect accent buttons for the sleeves to no avail, then I came upon these while on a fabric shopping trip one day.  There was just enough for my project but they were silver and I needed gold, I was running out of time and options so I decided I would take a chance and purchased an antiquing paint pen in gold and crossed my fingers.  To my surprise the end result was just what I had hoped for, I may just have to try that technique again sometime.   The sleeves are trimmed with a lovely gold metallic lace that also came from my friend Fearga. 

Cuff close-up

 Sleeve close-up


      I searched my jewelry and found what I feel are the perfect accent pieces, many of which I had received as gifts and not worn until now.  The accessories include a pair of gold ball earrings similar to several examples I have seen in Venetian paintings, small pearl necklace with an emerald pendant, pinkish glass broach with my pelican medallion, and a girdle.  The girdle was made by my student from an old girdle that I already had and include glass pearls, green simulated tigers eye beads, gold accent beads, garnets and a lovely teardrop shaped pearl at the end. 


The girdle The jewellery The medallion


I am very pleased with the way this gown turned out.  I love wearing it, get lots of compliments and look forward to making more dresses from this period.  Thank you to Fearga, Alex, Jenn and all the other lovely ladies who have so kindly shared their information and experiences and inspired me to try something new, and especially to Bella for her wonderful site and the opportunity to be on this month's showcase.      Dame Karis Pursey



Bella Says.....

I fell in love with both the colour and pattern on the fabric of this gown as soon as I laid eyes on it. Of course it also helps that both the camicia and sleeves are adorned with gorgeous gold lace - delish! Aesthetics aside, I think Karis has done a wonderful job of putting this together - and on such a small budget too. The gown fits beautifully, as well as looking terrific, and the jewellery adds the perfect touch of opulence. Brava Karis!

If you would like to contact Dame Karis you can do so at karisia2002 (at) yahoo (dot) com

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(Copyright Information: As author I, Anabella Wake, known in the SCA as Bella Lucia da Verona, hold copyright on all information on these pages. In addition I hold copyright 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.)