Kerri Morin
(Mistress Caterucia Bice da Ghiacceto, OL)

Orange County, California, USA
(Barony of Gyldenholt, Kingdom of Caid)


A Florentine Outfit in the Style
 of 1555

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

Kerri Says....


Hello! I am Kerri Morin, also known as Mistress Caterucia Bice da Ghiacceto in the SCA. I live in Orange County, California (Kingdom of Caid, Barony of Gyldenholt) and have been costuming seriously for approximate 5-6 years. I am mostly drawn to fashions of 15th and 16th century Florence but like to dabble in other time periods and locations.

This dress is meant to be a close reproduction of Allessandro Allori’s 1555 portrait of Isabella de’ Medici (some scholars identify the lady as Maria de’ Medici). I found the portrait in Moda di Firenze I and immediately fell in love. The color of the doublet dress is pure heaven! And that partlet! Needless to say, I had to make it.

I decided to make the dress as an entry in my Kingdom’s Arts & Sciences competition in March, 2009. Since I have a tendency to replicate portraits, I decided I wanted to make this dress out of a different color combination than that of the portrait. But once I got to the fabric store and found this to-die-for blue silk, I quickly changed my mind. I bought the fabric and the trim but never got motivated enough to make the dress. So the bolts of fabric and yards of trim sat in my sewing room, mocking me as I worked on other projects.

Fast forward a few months to this summer when I was asked to join the Order of the Laurel. I decided to finally make the dress for my elevation. It was the perfect choice since I wouldn’t have to buy more fabric (and risk my husband divorcing me), I wouldn’t have to make a new chemise (I hate sewing underwear) and it fits my heraldic colors. 

I started with the partlet since it was an easily-transportable project to take with me to events. The partlet is made from extremely fine linen I bought a few years ago with a partlet in mind. I used the same pattern as I did for the green dress (February 1, 2008 Showcase) but added beading to the collar. I beaded a fleur-de-lis in my heraldic colors on each end of the collar. The black and blue beads are tiny glass seed beads and the others are fresh water seed pearls. I used silk thread to do the beading since the beads were so tiny and the fabric so sheer. The silk thread worked so well that I used it for all of the hand-finishing on the partlet. Once the beading was complete, I attached the collar to the partlet, added lace, and then more pearls on the lace.

The under dress is eggshell white silk taffeta. The silk is fairly thin so the skirt is lined with white linen. The bodice is interlined with two layers of canvas and lined in linen. I used Rigiline for support in the bodice. The skirt is knife pleated into the waist. To mimic the inspiration portrait, I added trim down the middle of the skirt front and around the hem. I found some beautiful gold trim approximately 3” wide. The trim also has a fleur-de-lis-like shape, which is one of the reasons I picked it. Unfortunately, the trim was expensive so I wasn’t able to have it go all the way around the hem. I figured that the back of the skirt would be hidden by the doublet dress anyway so was okay with the shortage.

The under sleeves are made from the same eggshell silk and use my go-to sleeve pattern. The under sleeves attach to the bodice with a hook and eye at the shoulder point. I stressed over the detail on the sleeve and at one point thought I would do a pinked under sleeve instead. Then, while rummaging through my Bin of Trim, I found some gold trim left over from a double I recently made my husband. After playing around with it, I decided it was perfect. (And much quieter than pinking). I somehow managed to match the trim at the back seam which never happens.

The doublet bodice follows the same basic pattern as the under dress. Other than being interlined with one layer of canvas, it has minimal support – just along the front opening, where the hooks and eyes were attached. This was my first experiment with hook and eye tape – I usually sew individual hooks and eyes – and I will admit I am a convert. That stuff is awesome! The skirt was also knife pleated into the bodice.

The collar of the doublet took a little time to get right because it was too high in the center back. After opening the seam and cutting off an inch or so, it was much more comfortable. The collar is interlined with one layer of canvas. That is all the support it needed.

The doublet sleeves were a fun challenge for me. I used my go-to sleeve pattern and cut off the bottom 2/3 or so to get the sleeve base. I then made strips of silk approximately 1 ½ inches wide (finished size). I applied trim to the middle and then lined up the strips to create the sleeve. The strips were sewn to the sleeve base to create the rolls. I then stuffed the sleeve with silk organza to make the “poofs” seen in the portrait. This was my first attempt at making fake “poofs” so I had to experiment with the amount of organza. The doublet sleeves are sewn in to the doublet.

Finally, the seemingly miles of trim was added to the doublet dress. But the trim is what makes it so it was worth it.

For accessories, I made a simple belt from glass pearls and gold-tone beads. I had to tack the belt to the dress to get it to stay in place so I may need to re-engineer it slightly. I wore simple pearl earrings and necklace. 

I hope you enjoy the dress! 


  You can contact Kerri at caterucia (at), and you can find her 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.