The Realm of Venus Presents...

he talian howcase


Holly Jo Alford

Blue Grass, Iowa, USA

A Venetian Outfit in the Style
 of  the 1560s

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

Holly Says....


 I've been sewing for more than 40 years, I started making costumes and historically based garb about five years ago, and I've gotten myself in the court at the local Renaissance festival. The reason I started this project was to sew up the stash, not spend a gob of money, and get a light (cool) pretty dress for my efforts.

I was inspired by the Hieronymus Franken drawings of the Venetian Carneval (Venice 1564) - mostly for the shape of the dresses, they seem big skirted with the signature V in front and back. I was also inspired by the Giovani Antonio Fasolo frescos of "The Dance" (Province of Vicenza, 1565) - these dresses seem more like "simple country dresses" - one lady looks like she has blackwork sleeves and a striped dress, another looks as though she's take off her partlet - wild thang!



I embarked on a self imposed program of redoing dresses. I had some very nice royal blue and gold brocade birthday material with a pair of sleeves already made from it.

   Next I made a muslin lining and used plastic cable ties for boning stays, I used Jen Thompson's lacing technique of running a line of ribbon behind each of two boning stays on each side - this method really helps stabilize the lacing and keeps everything nice and flat.




My excuse for having a plain colored skirt with the fabulous brocade bodice & sleeves is that that's what I could afford - remember I'm trying to clean out the stash, I also wanted this dress to be really light and cool. I wanted to have a pretty pop-over-your-head Italian! (and I wanted to be lazy and not make a camicia, etc. More about lazy and short-cuts later, ugh!)

My skirt is about 5 yards cheap, er, inexpensive poly/cotton (so thin you can read through it!!) - I cut the waist in diagonally about 10 inches and added that to the bottom, this ends up with less bulk at the waist and more skirt at the bottom. (I wanted to wear this dress over a small set of hoops to keep the skirts away from my legs - shade and air! ahhhh!)

I decided to completely remake the sleeves, they were to be light and cool, alas this is not the case. The sleeves are loosely base on Eleanor of Toledo, with faux white muslin pullings-out and gold cord jumps - very pretty. However, the brocade is scratchy and so I flat-lined those parts with soft muslin. HOWEVER - the gold cord jumps are scratchy too! I ended up lining the whole sleeve with another layer of muslin! Finally, I had two slightly different shades/widths of royal blue ribbon - they matched the shading in the brocade perfectly - and I tied double bow faux ties at the tops of the sleeves. 

At last things were finally taking shape, but I had no camicia, so I made a faux front and tacked it into the bodice.

Oh, and to finish the faux sleeve look - why not add a ruffle at the cuff! 


I finished the neckline with some self bias tape and again outfoxed myself by making THAT scratchy!! - humph! - so I used some iron on stabilizer to retro fix that mess! (In the end - maybe WAY more work to make the fake.)

The finishing touch of course is a jeweled beaded belt - oh all right, I confess - its Christmas tree garland again.

At last a pretty pop-over-your-head Italian! (Photographed in my sister's garden, can she cook flowers or what!? - Thanks Deb!)




  You can contact Holly at Grubnerref (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.)