The Realm of Venus Presents....

talian howcase


Lady Sarah Wydville, West Kingdom

SCA Participant and Costumer
A Gown in the style of 1570s Venice


Sarah Says...

I started out as a patron of the Northern Renaissance Pleasure Faire in Novato, CA at the age of 12 and instantly fell in love with the whole idea of costuming. I began designing historical costumes almost right away but did not begin to sew my own costumes until I was 15. Costuming is an obsession that has stuck with me for the last 12 years. I created my first website in 1996, called "Sewing The Seeds of Rebellion" and together with Melissa Heischberg (whose website was then called "Sew Happy"), we began putting "dress diaries" online for people, like ourselves, who wanted to see the guts of the project in all their glory, not just the pretty finished product. In about 2000, I changed the name of the website to "The Elizabethan Lady", which lasted for two years under that name before changing it to its current title "Mode Historique", as I began branching out from strictly Elizabethan era clothing.

For me, education is the primary point of putting my costumes and research online. I love learning and I figure there are probably others out there who are searching for information that can't be found easily. As the internet has grown and as the online historical costuming community has swelled over the last 10 years (TEN YEARS!!!), the flow of knowledge has been incredible. With the advent of blogging, dress diaries are now everywhere you look. It's fantastic!

I am involved in the SCA (West Kingdom) as Lady Sarah Wydville, ORL. I am also a member of the Greater Bay Area Costumer's Guild.

The Outfit

This outfit was made in honor of my first trip to the Bristol Renaissance Faire in Kenosha, WI. When you're meeting two of your best online costuming buddies for the first time, you want to look good! Melissa and Jennifer Thompson were both going to be seeing this dress up close and personal, so I wanted to make it as nice as I possibly could. If anyone would pick out my sewing flaws, it would be them! (Of course, they're too nice to say so... ;)

The fabric is 100% silk jacquard that I found onsale at a trendy fabric store in my area. I lucked out that it ended up being 50% and that there were 7 yards on the bolt (I'm short, so that was enough to make two outfits for me, if I was careful with piecing). I still paid through the nose for the fabric, but it's silk!

I wasn't specifically picking a Venetian portrait to recreate, so I went with what I think we all consider is the "basic" Venetian style: Open front bodice, ladder lacing, straight sleeves, etc. The one thing I love about Venetian clothing of the 16th century is that they use sumptuous fabric without a whole lot of extra ornamentation. The fabric speaks for itself, and since I love simplicity in design, I had no problem letting the fabric be the center piece.

The partlet is silk organza and entirely hand sewn. I appliqued vertical rows of gold lace to add dimension to the organza, although it's hard to tell in the photographs. The partlet was then stitched down to the bodice to make extra sure that it wasn't going to shift about while being worn. The chemise (or camicia) is white silk habotai. To be different, I decided to add shoulder ruffs to the sleeve caps, which turned out to be quite cute and not at all as silly looking as I originally feared!

I made a matching carcanet and girdle to wear with this outfit (below), using black onyx cabochons in round gold filigree settings and 6mm and 8mm glass pearls. My jewelry making skills are not that great and the carcanet barely survived the weekend, but it still looked great!

Bella Says.....

Yummy yum yum! The mere thought of how much the silk brocade must have cost is almost enough to make me pass out, only I wouldn't dare take my eyes of that gorgeous fabric for a second! It has such a lovely sheen to it, doesn't it? And Sarah has adorned herself perfectly - from the carcanet to the girdle and not least of all that fan, whose handle I covet! :-) If you would like to contact Sarah you can do so at You can see her dress diary for this gown here.

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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.)