Kim Nutzmann

Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA


A Venetian Outfit in the Style
 of  the 1560s-70s

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

Kim Says....


My name is Kim Nutzmann, and Iíve only been sewing about 4 years. Before that, Iíd never sewn a day in my life. I make costumes for renaissance festivals for myself only, but would love to make them for other people as well. I learned just about everything, I know from a very good friend of mine, Karen George. Sheís an absolutely fabulous seamstress. I also, got help from Laura Ulak as well, mostly for the Venetian, as Iíd never made one before. 

The corset I actually made 2 years ago, using the online Corset Pattern Generator. When I first made it, it fit perfectly, but I have since lost a bunch of weight so, this corset is now too big on me. The lacings in the back should not be touching and have a 2inch gap. I made the corset using two layers of duck, then a layer of fashion fabric for the front of it. I used plastic ducts ties that you can pick up for any Home Depot. The corset is 3 layers of fabric all sewn together when the channels are sewn in.  The chemise, is a pattern that Laura Ulak cut out for me, so Iím not really sure which pattern it was from. But I can say that I made the top in a couple of short hours. It was very easy to make, and Iíd probably make another one.

I bought this silk about 4 years ago specifically for this gown. And finally got enough  sewing skills to feel like I could do it. Because, to be honest, the silk scared me. 

I made two skirts: one that would become the outer skirt (gold and silver motif) and the other underneath was made from an olive green silk dupioni. I made the gold and silver first. I knew the length that I needed for the skirt with taking in consideration the 2 inch waist band I would have, along with the almost 2 inch guard at the bottom, as well as the seam allowances. I measured and cut the silk, into 3 panels. I got the panels to match perfectly by just using the finished edges as my seam allowance. This is back side of the matched panels.


And here is one of the front panels all nicely matched.

And thanks to Laura Ulak for the fabric that just seemed to go with this gown, I got to have a small guard along the bottom. It was really only about 2 inches. I actually added the guard to the skirt after the front silk panels had already been sewn to the 2 side panels. Once the guard was added the whole length of the skirt panels, I did a tiny hem with a hidden stitch. Then I sewed it up together on the back panels.

I then cartridge pleated the whole skirt by hand. I fold over the fabric to where it needed to be, and iron it. Then I started from the center and worked my way to each end of the fabric, marking half inch increments with chalk. Then I measured down from the fold along the whole length Ĺ inch increment and 1 inch increment. Then I wove upholstery thread the whole length of fabric in both the Ĺ and 1 inch marks by hand.

I like to also mark with pins the half way point, quarter way point, and then I split those up in half again. This is so that when I add the waist band, the fabric is pretty evenly connected. The waist band is also marked with the same amount of pins, evenly marked. 

For the waist band I cut a layer of duck cloth 2 inches wide. And made it only 29 inches wide, because I would be wearing a corset, and I squish, so why make it too big to begin with right? Twenty-nine inches was perfect, fit very nicely actually.  After I got the duck cloth cut, I went after the silk. I cut the silk an extra inch lengthwise and an extra inch width wise, to allow for, my seam allowances.

I wish I had taken photos of this part only because when I explain it, it might sounds confusing. Iíve learned that when I make my belts, with the duck cloth (usually two layers, not one) but this will happen to either one: that when it is washed, if the duck cloth is not held to the fabric it will shift, and turn and bend and get all warped inside the fabric, then you are left with this mess inside of your waistband that you can't get flat or straightened out.

So this is where Iíve started to do a bit of sewing ďengineeringĒ of sorts. I find the middle of the width of the silk, and mark it the whole length. (I used masking tape to mark the middle point). I take my piece of duck cloth, and put it on the wrong side of the fabric, pinning it to the BACKSIDE of the waist band, at that middle point. There should be about a half inch of fabric that hangs off , thatís fine. I then sew the fabric to the duck cloth. The sewing you can see in this photo is on the back side of the waist band, no one but me and anyone Iíve told would know itís there. 

Once the duck cloth is sewn to the fabric, I fold the fabric, in half width wise, pinning both edges, right sides together. Then sew along the very very edge of the duck cloth on each side. There should be about a half inch fabric hanging off each end.

Then I turn the silk so that the duck cloth is inside the silk and the right sides of the fabric are facing out. I fold the Ĺ seam allowance from the back of the waistband over the duck cloth and into the little pocket that has been made. Then fold the silk in the front, also into the little pocket that has been made. And I pin it, and hand sew it closed. In the close up photo of the back side waist band photo you can see the hand sewing. Once thatís done, I hand sew the skirt the waist band.

I hand sewed the waist band to the skirt, using upholstery thread. Usually, Iíll start about an inch from one edge, then Iíll work my way to the edge and then continue back the other direction working my way to the other end of the skirt. I do this so that the initial knot from the thread is not seen right at the edge.

Both the skirts where made the same way. Both were hand cartridge pleated and hand sewn to the waist bands.

This was my first attempt at sleeves. I used the panned sleeve pattern from, Margoís Patterns. I actually ended up using masking tape to mark where the middle of the motif would be. Because when I used chalk for my bodice, the chalk wouldnít come out at all. I did this so I could match the pattern center up to the silk masking tape mark. I also, picked a spot on the silk and the pattern, that I could use as a horizontal reference, so that both sleeves would be the same. 

In the first photo you can see the masking tape and how itís lined up.

This is the center of my sleeve and I simply placed the side pieces next to the middle piece.

And here I start to cut out the pattern.

And the pattern piece cut out.

And heres the cut out sleeve with tape marking the middle.

I made both sleeves exactly the same, but since I was cutting on a specific area for each sleeve, I made each sleeve separately. I lined the sleeves with some of the green dupioni. And I was originally going to use some piping for the sleeves that Laura had given me, but ended up being short on the piping.

So, I was stuck, and running out of time really. I couldnít find any piping to match. I then decided, crazy as it was, I was going to  bind all the sleeves. Yep, crazy, I know. I hand bound the each sleeve piece with silk dupioni as well. Binding the sleeves took probably about a couple days maybe, on and off.

After I bound all the lengths of each sleeve piece, I then worked on the binding for the top, to connect all the pieces together. And here is the result of that little job.

All that was left was to add little ďpearlsĒ to the sleeves, to keep the pieces together and well, looking like sleeves. I simply used some pearl looking beads from 'Joanns' and hand sewed them on, in between each panel piece, leaving the spot under the arm without one bead so I could get my arms into the sleeves. And I ended up sewing them on twice, one both sleeves because the first time around I used regular thread and not upholstery thread. I lost 3-4 pearls the first weekend I wore this at festival. 

I also used plastic rings and attached the to the bodice, so I could attach my sleeves to my bodice. And on the sleeves, to match the rings, I sewed in the cording that would be used to attach to my bodice.

Laura Ulak helped me modify my bodice pattern from Margoís pattern, into the Venetian here. I put on a mock up of my Elizabeth bodice, and we worked off that one to get the Venetian. My pattern fitted me perfect and the only modification we did was to mark the front where it would be cut at a different angle.

I then took my mock up and drew up a set of new front pattern pieces for the Venetian. I kept the rest of the pattern the same. I didnít get any photos of that part, and I really should have.

Unlike everything else that seemed to go rather smoothly, this is where I had the most trouble, as youíll soon find out. I had cut out a layer of silk, a layer of duck cloth and a layer of white linen. I laid out both pieces of linen onto my work space (ie: the floor with my huge card board cutting matt), and started work on the front lacing strip area. Using a clear ruler I figured out and drew all my vertical lines for where the boning was going to be. In the spots where the boning was going to go, I placed my ribbon down and pinned it into place.

Then, using my ruler again, I figured out and drew all my horizontal lines (for the horizontal channels for the lacing to go through). 

After the ribbon was pinned into place, I sewed, across the ribbon, on the vertical lines I drew. I did this for both sides. After I sewed the first set off lines, I realized that the space I left for the lacing to go through wasnít big enough. I didnít redraw any lines to fix it, I just simply sewed a little bit further off of the lines, to give it more space. My lacing spaces, were really only, slightly more than ľ Inch.

Next I layered each duck cloth piece with each linen piece. Pinned and sewed the channels for the boning. I was going to sew the right side of the silk to the side of linen with the ribbon, then turn it, so that there would be no edges to finish.

I also did the same for the back piece. Sewed duck cloth and linen together and formed the channels for the boning that way. Then I sewed the front pieces to the back piece.

I sewed the right sides of the silk to the linen side, so that I could turn the fabric leaving the duck cloth next to the silk. This was a major problem, I tried for some time to turn the fabric. I had serious issues with the straps getting turned. At this point I had sewn pretty much the whole bodice together, wrong sides and such, all except for the whole lower part of the bodice, so I could turn it.

I ended up seam ripping almost the whole thing. I did leave the two very front sewn lines together. This is where the front closure would be. I couldnít bind it, there because; there would be bones in those positions. After I seam ripped everything but the two fronts, I then turned it, so it was the way it should be. I then repined the silk, duck cloth and linen back together And sewing along the 5/8 seam allowance. To keep the pieces together, then I trimmed off just outside the seam allowance on both the top and bottom. 

I hand bound the top and bottom and arm holes of the bodice with more of the green silk. I used the zigzag stitch then folded the fabric over to the back side, then folded that fabric underneath itself as well, leaving no rough or frayed edged showing. I then hand sewed the binding in place in the back, so all that is seen is the nice binding and not stitches.

This is what the finished product of my hand binding looks like. I did this for the entire bodice and sleeves.

The only thing I had left to do that I wanted to do was to add some lace around the top part of the bodice. I felt it needed it. So I found some pretty white lace. Itís really only about an inch and half tall, but was the perfect length for this bodice. And yes, I hand sewed it into place.

Overall, it wasnít as bad as I thought it was going to be. I was very scared to cut into the silk initially when I bought it. But I did it though. Learned a lot. Would I make one again? I sure would. And I really couldnít have done any of it without the help of Laura Ulak and Karen George, they taught me everything I know. 


  You can contact Kim at anna175 (at)

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© 2001 - 2010 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.