The Realm of Venus Presents....

talian howcase



(Jennifer Cicero)
Reno, Nevada, USA

Renaissance Faire Performer/Participant

A Venetian Gown in the Style of 1510-40


Jezabella Says...

Hello! My name is Jen Cicero, more widely known through the No. CA Ren Faires as Jezabel. This will be my fourth year participating  in Faire and my favorite part has always, is, and will always be the costuming.

I have been making costumes forever, mainly because of my love for theater and production. About four years ago I got hoodwinked into doing a small play, with a few friends from one of my theater classes, for various Ren Faires. I was sceptical at first but the second they told me I had to make my costumes I was all for it. I think I had been to all of 3 actual faires and had 4 and 1/2 working costumes,  (one that had LOR hand embroidery all over it as the product of a very dull weekend and a Lord of the Rings Marathon). It has been only recently that I have actually been making Italian style clothing, since most of my costumes in the beginning were all English peasantry. What I love so much about the Italian style, besides the pretty lines and beautiful patterns, is the fact that there are SO many great movies that have actueal Italian costuming to look at! 

If any of you know me you will know that I RAVE and DROOL over the Dangerous Beauty movie, I have had a long time affaire with this movie (mainly the costuming, but the story is good too). My affaire with this movie started in the year 2001 when I knocked it off the shelf at Sam Goodies and thought it might be interesting to watch, little did I know I was opening a door to another world that would never be able to be shut. That night was the night I fell in love with a dress. Yes MY dress. There was something about the term "easy off dress" that made it even more seductive, and it was then that I decided I had to have it.

Now it took me about 5 years to get to the point where I actually had a reason for spending the un-godly amount of money to make this dress, but when I did man did I move faster than a guy on prom night.



So having the EXACT design that I wanted I decided to take a trip to Mecca aka the LA Garment District to look for just the right material. After walking through shops all day and turning down every ugly poly blend puke color fabric that was thrust at me I finally made my way back to a silk shop I obviously didn't spend much time in in the first place. It was then that I found my fabric, 11 yards of black silk, 5 yards of red/ black cross dyed dupioni silk, 5 yards of ivory china silk, and 1 yard of yummy yummy gold spun lace! I was in heaven as was the shop owner who kept insisting, " I'a no like'a money, I like'a people!" So with that being the case I used the upper hand to get a discount further on all my stuff, the upper hand being BIG brown eyes and pouty lower lip and man did it work.

I went home and studied the dress looking at every detail. I finally decided I had enough information to start the production of the garment.


I first started with the skirt. I found the easiest way was to take the silk and cut off one yard out of the black and set it aside for the bodice. When that was done I measured from where I wanted the bodice to end to the length I wanted it to be to hit the floor and what do you know it was 45 inches! YEA one less thing to surge! So i lined the silk with a light weight black cotton and continued to add the bottom stripes of red by cutting strips of the red dupioni that I had bought for the sleeves. Next was to add the two red panels to the front opening of the dress, which I did by cutting more of the red silk and trimming it with a regular black braid along the same lines of the red strips on the black. The only other thing I added to the skirt was 3 small ties along the front opening so that I can have the dress closed for faires like San Francisco, opened for air circulation at SLO and if we ever have a Discovery Park again this is the easiest dress to rip off, leave in a pile and race into the wet T- shirt contest so that you don't die of heat stroke!

The next task at hand was making the bodice. I used the regular old T-shirt and duct tape approach. After having my pattern I cut 2 copies from some plain canvas I had laying around. Next I sewed in the channels for the boning (duct tape covered hacksaw blades, they work quite well) followed by cutting and sewing together the black cotton lining and the canvas. With that said and done I cut the pieces out of the black silk and marked out where the trim needed to be placed so that it was able to line up evenly on the skirt.



Now the trim presented a bit of a problem because take it from me one can NOT find the exact trim they used in the movie. It is almost mythical because everyone claims to have seen it somewhere but it is nowhere to be found. So disappointed I settled for using a black lace 3 inch trim as a base then cutting the shape out of strips of a gold trim to get the design I wanted. After this was done and sewn together I proceeded to attach black pearls to the trim to give it a little extra something and it turned out quit nice. I then laid out and sewed the trim to the black silk for the bodice on both sides, then attached the canvas piece to the black silk, adding the ties in-between the layers, so that I had a full bodice to try on, and it fit fine so I took a nap then proceeded.

Next on the list was to make the sleeves which I like the tube approach. I figured out how wide I wanted/ needed to have the sleeves be with the puffiness, then cut a straight line adding line 10 inches to my arm length for Extra puffiness ( I feel like Anne of Green Gables lol). Next I added the black and gold trim that I found somewhere? - cant remember. And on that note I threaded through a small piece of ribbon under each cuff to be able to tighten the puffs, then sewed down the center to make it into a sleeve. Now lather, rinse, repeat and you have two! yea! then attach to bodice and you are almost done!


Now let me say I HATE cartridge pleating but there is no other way to sew 9 yards of fabric into a 28 inch waistband, so I set to the task and amused myself by watching every Muppet movie I own. Finally after 3 days of procrastinating it was done. so I attached the skirt into the bodice, sewed down the top and attached the trim to the front of the skirt, and yea I was done....with that!

The last and easiest thing to make was the shift which I used a basic shift pattern that falls to the floor, added poofy sleeves, and attached the lace as the shoulder pieces and made a V down the front with it. Very nice pretty and simple. Top it off with a nice gold rope belt and it is drool worthy!

Now I was ready for the unveiling! So at Faire Oaks Faire I was presented to Don Giovanni as a gift, ( one that matched his pavilion) and the rest was history! All I could think was I HAVE A PRETTY NEW DRESS! I HAVE A PRETTY NEW DRESS!


Bella Says.....

This is just gorgeous! I love the colour combination, and that trim is wonderful - gives just the right effect on this sumptuous gown. And doesn't it suit Jezabella beautifully! Brava! 

If you would like to contact Jezabella you can do so at Aurora72383 (at) excite (dot) com.

Would you like to be Showcased? E-mail me!


(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.)