The Realm of Venus Presents....

talian howcase


Peggy Elizabeth Lushine

Minnesota, USA

Costumer and Ren Faire Participant

A Venetian Gown in the Style of  the 1560s


Peggy Says...

Iíve been attending my local faire since I was a baby, started playing as an adult and began my sewing obsession about 5 years ago. I attended once in that time in street clothes and felt so odd I had to leave earlier than I normally would. I hold a degree in humanities, theatre and dance, so historical costume was a somewhat natural interest for me. 

In my real life Iím self-employed event planner and create parties, weddings, festivals and other events for people and organizations in the Twin Cities- another place I get to play with fabric! Iím also lucky enough to be married to a guy who lets me make things for him and who actually enjoys wearing them.

This gown was inspired primarily by the fabric. It was found on a remnant table by my mom-in-law and I knew the second she showed it to me that it was destined to become a Venetian gown with the deep V bodice.

I have this strange ability to see how fabric works around a body, so I spent a long time just thinking about how I could modify a pattern Iíve used in the past to work for this type of bodice. I also spent a good amount of time reading journals and diaries of other costumers before I formulated a solid plan for the gown. 

Two portraits were my main inspiration:


Giovanni Antonio Fasolo, c1565: "The Concert" (fresco detail)

Paolo Caliari (Veronese), c1550s: Portrait of a Lady with a Heron

I liked that both of them had the same colors as my fabric and they have a relatively narrow V bodice.

By the time I began modifying my pattern via multiple muslins, I had collected various items to use with the finished gown. I find it most inspirational to toss the accessories onto my dress form with the far-from-finished outfit, so, true to form as soon as I had cut the bodice from the real fabric I had a very good sense of what the completed ensemble would look like even if it was just pinned into my dear dummy.


The bodice is made up of 4 layers. The outer fabric, two inner layers that sandwich just a few plastic cable tie bones and a gold silk lining. I too, used Jen Thompsonís genius method of lacing using ribbons.


The skirt is more interesting. It ended up being made of 3 unlined rectangular panels, 2 of one size and 1 of a smaller size. It is padded with felt and a nice upholstery weight linen to give the pleats more body. The thing that I did differently from any other skirt Iíve made is that instead of placing the narrow panel in the back I shifted it to the front side and placed a pocket in the seam on the left side of the skirt. This is so very handy and definitely something I will do in the future.




 The sleeves are just simple paned sleeves, but instead of tying onto the bodice, I built loops into the bodice and they attach to buttons on the sleeves. I cheated and used hair elastics the right color so they stretch as I move.

I used a
camicia that I purchased years ago but modified for this gown and the petticoat is an estate sale find.


Most of the jewels I already owned. I needed only to replace a missing stone in the brooch, the pearls were picked up cheaply at a discount store and the rings are antiques, one a recent gift and one a family heirloom. Interestingly, the shoes I purchased in Italy when I was there with my college choir about 6 years ago.

In my everyday life my hair is far from the requisite long locks required for braids, so after a terrible try for a hairpiece, I ended up making
a balzo similar to the ones worn in these portraits. This item was not finished for the gownís first outing, so I claimed that ďthe nuns were forced to shave my head to save my life while I burned with fever & it hadnít grown back completely yet.Ē†
The balzo is inspired by these two portraits:∑ Paolo Caliari (Veronese), 1551: Countess Livia da Porto Thiene∑ Domenico Riccio (Il Brusasorci), before 1567: Portrait of a Lady



Bella Says.....

Oh my, this is yummy isn't it? I just adore that fabric, and Peggy has done such a great job of this style - it suits and fits  her perfectly too!

If you would like to contact Peggy you can do so at pege (at)

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.)