Bettina Lennert Soerensen



A Florentine Outfit in the Style
 of 1562

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

Bettina Says....


My name is Bettina, Iím 45, and I have been creative as long as I remember. My first historic dress was for a doll a la Barbie. I was 8-10, and my grandmother had her girlfriends over, they had a sewing club and I got to use the leftovers and the sewing machine. I loved those old costume films and the dresses.

In the years gone by Iíve tried to learn as many new skills as I could. Iíve learn to make lace, Iím not super at it, but I will get better. It will be nice making at dress with self made lace Ė some day.

Today I have 3 sons, my eldest is 22 and into LARP, and so is my youngest at 13. I have been sewing their costumes for years. At first not knowing better, I used shiny cheap fabrics. As I got more experienced the clothes got more authentic. My first historic dress for myself was in a pattern very similar to a Norse dress found in Greenland. And it is about 3 years old and in flax. I have used it when helping out at my sons LARP arrangements.

This is my second historic dress, and the most authentic I have made. I wanted a challenge and a special dress. I started out looking at dresses on the net, found Janet Arnoldís name and bought Patterns of Fashion 1560-1620. And fell in love with the Eleanor de Toledo dress. I knew from the moment I saw the drawing of the dress that I wanted it in red and velvet.

Now the search was on for similar dresses on the net and for the right fabric at an affordable price. 
I ended up buying 9Ĺ m deep red cotton velvet (I have 3 m left), 1.5 m red satin and a little piece of black velvet. A lot of gold ribbon: one round and one flat.


By end of October I was ready. I decided that the best way was to make the inner bodice first, and use it as the pattern for the outer. Iíve never made a corset before, my bra size is 80E and I didnít have anyone helping with the fitting. So I took some shortcuts.

I had an old pair of curtains made of hand-woven linen, and I had some 'Viledon'. So I started with the pattern in the book. And put the linen on the 'Viledon' pieces. I sewed them together with a heavy thread by hand, joining the pieces without overlapping. As feared, it didnít fit. The beauty of it was, that with the 'Viledon', I could make a cut and make a wedge to put in. I took out the stitches and used my machine's zigzag for a smoother surface. Most of the bodice has 2 layers of 'Viledon'. At the front I reinforced it and made room for corset stiffeners (the plastic ones).


The original is fitted with eyes and hooks. So I wanted to do that Ė but I had to change to eyelet holes, it is so much easier with my size. Finally,  I covered it in red satin.

At last I could start with the embroidery application. I decided not to make it exactly as in the original. I wanted the pattern a little lighter and centred on the bodice. I took a copy, placed at sheet of white paper over it and made similar drafts, until I was satisfied. I made a sketch of where the pieces should be placed for the best effect.

I drew the pieces on 'Vliseline' and ironed them on the black velvet, cut the black pieces out and pinned them on the red satin piece I had cut out. The flat golden ribbon I pinned on, making sure that it got over or under itself in the right order. Now I could stitch the pieces on first time, using a black thread. The second time round I stitched the round gold ribbon on, with black again. Itís all done by hand. It was a lot of fun, and I had it with me everywhere.

I made the front and the back application part, but before I started on the shoulders I wanted to fix the pieces on the bodice, so the front and back would interlock into one piece.

I used the inner bodice to alter the pattern of the bodice. I stiffened the velvet with 'Vliseline', next time I will find something better. I sew the application and the bodice together and got the shoulder applications in place. I use black 'agraman' (braid) to cover the edges of the satin.


I used almost the same method on the skirt. But I decided not to use satin, as I may continue the application all the way round the hem some day. So the pieces are sewn direct on the skirt. I couldnít help myself and started to embellish with small pearls and prisms. 

I sewed the bodice and the skirt together, but before I could get the hem right I had to make myself a farthingale, and in The Tudor Tailor which I bought with Patterns of Fashion I found one. I started using plastic boning, but found metal once from an online shop there in Denmark. A lovely place called Historicum, my favorite. Metal boning rocks!

There wasnít a pattern for the sleeves, so I made one myself. I put 'agraman' on the edges, sewed  the pieces together with big pearls, and made loops of satin ribbons on the shoulders to go over the top of the pearls (for button loops).

The white chemise is made of cheese cloth, with lace at the hands and a red and black ribbon at the neck. The body and the sleeves are made of the full width of the fabric.

I have been asked why I made the dress Ė Iím not at member of anything, and I may not get to wear it very often. So my best answer may be Ė to see if I could.


  You can contact Bettina (at) and you can find her LiveJournal blog here.

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© 2001 - 2009 Anabella Wake (Known in the SCA as Bella Lucia da Verona) I hold copyright on all information on these pages, and 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.