Erika Hepler and her model Mark
(Philippa and Gerard Montague)



Chicago, Illinois, USA
(Shire of Ravenslake, The Midrealm)

Costumer and SCA Member

A Venetian Outfit in the Style
 of 1560

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


Erika Says....

 

My name is Erika Hepler, known within the SCA as Philippa Montague. I have sewn pretty much all of my life, though my interest has focused in primarily on Renaissance costuming. My husband and I joined the SCA in November of 2006 and are quite active in a local group that focuses on rapier, archery and costuming.

I had made an Italian gown for myself about two years ago, which was featured in the showcase on February 15, 2009. The theme for the 12th Night event in Chicago for 2009 was Italian, so we decided that it was time for him to have an Italian outfit to accompany my own.



 

The Portraits

This outfit was inspired by the Portrait of Prospero Alessandri by Giovanni Battista Moroni. My husband liked the overall shape of the doublet, the narrow sleeves and the full slops. He wasn’t sure he was ready to wear peach slops, however, so we used a portrait of Ludovico Capponi (below, left) by Agnolo Bronzino as our inspiration for our color choices. We couldn’t see much of the detail of the decoration of the doublet in the Moroni portrait, so we used a third portrait of an Unknown Man by Agnolo Bronzino (below, right) as the inspiration for tone-on-tone slashing and trim.


    



The Fabric

I wanted to splurge a little bit on this court outfit for my husband. Generally, since he is a fencer, his garb is more utilitarian. It generally has to be washable, pass a punch test (a measure of strength to ensure it can defend against a broken rapier blade) and have an enlarged neckline to fit over a metal gorget. This outfit was going to be worn only to non-fighting events and to court, so it could be made of finer materials. I found some reasonably priced black silk suiting online for the doublet. It is a fairly course weave, which I thought would make it visually more interesting than a fine, plain weave. We chose silver as the color for the slops and sleeves based on the portrait of Ludovico Capponi. I also found this fabric online. It is silk shantung, which is a nice weight for the sleeves and slops. 


Construction

I used my favorite patterns by Margo Anderson for the doublet, sleeves and slops. Before constructing the doublet, I did some tests of the slashing to decide on the placement and to test for fraying. I used a utility knife and ruler to slash on the diagonal, which seemed to work well. There was very little fraying, especially if I was able to stay on the true bias. There was more fraying in a few spots such as the skirting, where the varying angle of the grain caused the slashing to vary from the bias. Once I had determined my slashing pattern, I did all of the slashing on the cut-out doublet pieces. I then placed a layer of black linen behind the silk, and duck cloth behind the linen. The narrow braided trim was then applied in vertical rows between the slashing, which served to hold the various layers together. The lining is cotton broadcloth. 

I added a one-piece skirting, similar to that seen in the portrait. I had found previously that Margo’s skirting seemed to have a little too much curve for my husband’s taste, so we straightened the line of the skirting somewhat to have less flare. I think I straightened it too much, since the skirting in back lays too flat. I need to keep honing that design.

I made small tabs for the shoulders, again based on the Moroni portrait. These, along with the skirting, were also slashed and decorated with vertical trim.

I made the buttons, since I didn’t want a modern-looking button on this doublet. The two Bronzino portraits appear to show thread wrapped buttons. The portrait of Ludovico Capponi shows small ball-shaped buttons, while portrait of the Unknown Man shows flat round buttons. I liked the second style better, and did some experimentation to determine how to reproduce these.

 

 I would imagine the originals were a wooden core wrapped in thread. However, I could not find wood disks of the right size. What I could find was metal disks, otherwise known as washers. To ensure that the metal did not show through the cord, I placed a circle of black foam on top before wrapping with embroidery floss. The resulting buttons were exactly what I was looking for.



 The slops were also made using Margo’s patterns. My husband didn’t want the slops to be quite as full and long as the original Moroni portrait, so we compromised with a medium length and fullness. The individual panes are lined in light grey cotton broadcloth, and a silver trim is applied along each edge. I did some tests of slashing on the panes, but wasn’t satisfied with the result. The portraits show a horizontal detail that appears to be slashing. However, when I slashed the silk shantung horizontally, additional threads continued to pull out, making an unattractive look. So, I chose to use just the trim along the edges. The slops were then constructed with silver lining fabric used for the visible pouf and twill used for the base to provide the shape. They were stuffed very lightly with netting to give a soft shape.




The sleeves were made of the same silk shantung as the slops, with the same silver trim. As with the panes for the slops, I decided against slashing the sleeves. So they are solid narrow sleeves, with double trim lines evenly spaced around the sleeve.

My husband wore a shirt that I had previously made for him to wear with his Elizabethan garb. It is a basic white shirt, cotton I believe, that makes use of my favorite shortcut: purchased box pleat trim applied to the collar and cuffs for a small ruff.

 




 

Accessories

The narrow belt my husband wore with the outfit was one I had made several years ago to wear with an Elizabethan doublet. It is made from a very long modern belt, split so that the buckle is partway up one side. I then attached a cloak clasp to either side of the cut portion of the belt to provide a spot for the belt to bend into the shape of the doublet waist.

None of the portraits show the lower legs, so I made an assumption that hose and low shoes would have been worn. I made his hose from light grey cotton interlock that matched the silk amazingly well. Although I started from a commercial pattern for tights, I lengthened the legs so they would cover the foot rather than ending at the ankle. This required considerable shaping around the ankle so that they would fit. I also fit the hose more tightly to his legs. I didn’t make them skintight, as most portraits show hose with wrinkles and slight sagging. 

His final accessory – the goatee – well he produced that himself. A long weekend of being lazy and not shaving turned into an experiment in growing a beard. By the time he thought I would insist it be shaved off, I shocked him by saying that I thought the goatee would be quite appropriate for our weekend hobby. ;-)



Finished Outfit 

I was very pleased with the results of my latest foray into Italian costuming. The use of black behind the black slashes makes for a much more subtle appearance than when a contrasting color is used to highlight the slashing. But I think it makes it all the richer when you get up close and see the detailing. Unfortunately, we haven’t had much luck finding shoes that give the look we’re going for. He usually wears boots with his Elizabethan outfits, and only wears low lace-less shoes with casual camping clothes. We’ll be keeping our eyes open for shoes that will complete this outfit. If you have any questions about this project, feel free to contact me.

 










   


 

  You can contact Erika at requests@cardinal-creations.com and her website is available to view here.

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

 


(© 2001 - 2008 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.