The Realm of Venus Presents...

he talian howcase


Baroness Alaina Blackram

(Lisa Phillips)

Pentamere, The Midrealm
(Michigan, USA)

Costumer and SCA Member

An Outfit in the Style of  the Bologna/Florence of the 1590s

(Highlighted/bordered images are click-able for enlarging)

Alaina Says....


 I am Baroness Alaina Blackram from the Midrealm. This is my hobby. I have been teaching myself to sew garb for the past 15 years. With every garment I learn a little more. 

Inspiration for this dress came from researching Northern Italian fashion in the late renaissance period. It was a popular dress as it seems to be found in the four corners of Europe. 

This dress  is black cotton velveteen, fuchsia silk poplin and lined with gold/silver shot dupioni, all from my stash. The only things purchased for this garment were the hook and eye and the trim (which was on clearance). 

Patterning over an effigy style corset was done first with duct tape, and then cinched up with a muslin pattern. Actual pattern style came from Alçega and Arnold.


The color combination came from a Spanish portrait supposedly painted by Sofonisba Anguissola [left], but I chose the softer, less stiff Italian line to show the comfort of this ensemble [below]. 

The black over-dress (saia) fabric is firmed up with an iron-on cotton interfacing, and is interlined with cotton organdy for stiffness*. The opening is the only part where boning is attached to facilitate keeping a great line. 

The skirt is cartridge pleated** on to the doublet as seen in Arnold and trimmed in 2 different gold laces. There are 15 #3 hooks and eyes on the doublet section which have been spray painted gold. Idea for the hooks and eye came from extant garments found in Arnold and an extant hook and eye that I have.

* **


The pink doublet underneath has gold trim sewn on at 1 inch increments (would perhaps put at ¾ inch next time) It is also interlined with 3 layers of cotton organdy for stiffness. It is also lined with slub-less dupioni and also has 15 hook and eye.

The doublet and skirt are separate as seen in many portraits. The underskirt is knife pleated to keep the desired line of the overdress.


Don’t adjust your monitor. Here is a reference on how Tab can pink it is.

The chemise is made of light cotton muslin which had a feel like some of the lighter linens that I could find, but was a finer weave. It has a cartridge pleated ruffle attached to the top and down the front opening.

The fan was carved by my husband and adorned with wood accents. It is 36” across.

Gloves were shown in gray to contrast the dress as the black gloves melded into the dress.

The drawers were a late project that I started when needing something to keep my hands busy on a trip overseas. I have counted the threadwork on the linen/cotton fabric and will probably not do so again without needing new glasses and a magnifier. They are based on lovely research and redaction of Mistress Oonagh O'Neill. The draw-thread is done with lucet and just fed through the pocket on top. 

Socks were made for me a few years ago by Lady Amanita Villarosa based on the socks of Eleanor of Toledo.

The hat is the only supposition I am truly making. As I cannot find a full around version of the hat, I am guessing that it is a close fit hat similar to the base of a French hood. There are many portraits of beads and ribbons tying up hair as well, but the neat thing is that when completed the hat does give the look like the way it should and that you can see hair around the hat as in many of the portraits. 

Unfortunately I have thin hair and cannot wear heavy hair pieces hanging off of my hair without severe breakage. So I cannot add volumes of braids as are also seen in the portraits, nor the beads and ribbons. But the hat is comfortable and I can move my head up and down and practically upside down and it doesn’t move. For adornment I have placed 6 8mm pearls on top as a significance of a title granted to me in the SCA by Duke Felix the Just and Duchess Madeleina La Mans.


Alaina is a previous winner in the Rose Awards and a four-times supporter of the Italian Showcase, and is therefore is one of the Realm's two Featured Costumers. You can view her contact and website details 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.)