Cynthia Konow-Brownell
(Baroness Thea Northernridge, OL)

San Diego, California, USA
(Kingdom of Caid, Barony of Calafia)


A Florentine Outfit in the Style
 of  the 1550s

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

Cynthia Says....


It was an honor to be featured in the Italian Showcase in April 2009. Fast forward a couple of years. I’ve lost 90 pounds and a friend with a late period Italian persona is Queen of Caid. Since she’s a friend, and I’m on her court, I needed late period Italian clothing. In addition, nothing that I had would fit correctly. Joann’s Fabrics had a pattern sale, and for ninety-nine cents I got Simplicity 3782 “Elizabethan Costume”.

I found inspiration from another partner in crime, Kerri Morin. For her elevation to the Order of the Laurel, she created a Florentine gown using Allessandro Allori’s 1555 portrait of Isabella de’Medici as her source. I thought about her gown as I looked at the Simplicity pattern and thought it would be interesting to see if a commercially available pattern would work. I really like the lines of the gown and also theorized that I could use the basic structure for other garb. For last year’s birthday, I had gotten a copy of Moda a Firenze. Amazingly, another Allori portrait, Portrait of a woman, from the Hermitage Museum had a similar doublet bodice but with a rounded collar. Finally, I wanted Laura Rubin’s corded petticoat from the September 2010 showcase piece, and this project seemed like a good catalyst for such a project.


In October 2011, I rebuilt my corset. My late period Queen-of-Caid friend, Cassandra Bailey, convinced me that a corset need not be a heavy orthopaedic device. She built her corsets from duppioni silk. At first, I wasn’t a believer but Cassandra is a curvy woman who always looks stunning. I decided that I could find a middle ground with a corset of duppioni silk lined with coutil. I used Jean Hunisett’s Historic Patterns for Stage and Screen instructions to redraft a new corset. It came out well, is very comfortable, and is the lightest corset I’ve ever owned. I truly enjoy the front closing busk, as I can dress myself.

I was able to recycle my old camicia from 90 pounds ago. It is made of handkerchief weight linen and edged in cotton lace. I constructed it from the directions from Jennifer Thompson’s Festive Attyre website.

The corded petticoat was created from medium weight linen and a single hank of nylon clothesline cord from Home Depot. I love when the Home Depot folks ask me what I’m looking for and how I will be using the product. The look on the salesman’s face as I explain what a corded petticoat is for was just priceless! Laura’s directions were great, as was the Recipe for a Corded Petticoat on the Elizabethan Costume website. One other useful resource was Lisa’s Tips on some cautions when constructing this petticoat. Specifically, the advice to stagger the location of the cord joins worked out very well for me. I really like the corded petticoat and will actually be turning to it as an alternative to hoops. It’s certainly a lot easier to move through crowded spaces and I love how it looks.

I tried to recycle my old partlet from 2009, but the dress really needed a partlet with a square collar. Note to self: put on partlet *before* corset. I usually do this, but because we were shooting pictures of gowns that required different partlets, I put the partlet on after the corset. That led to a bunch of fussing over getting the partlet to lie properly. So much for being lazy for a photo shoot.

For accessories, I decided a snood would hide my lack of period hair. The Elizabethan flat cap was a last minute addition. I saw a variety of examples of women wearing what I perceived to be Elizabethan English hats (such as Vecellio’s Portrait of a Young Woman or Bizzelli’s Giovanna of Austria and her son Filippo). English fashion was taking enough of a foothold in Italy that I felt use of a flat cap was a reasonable addition. I added the beaded belt from the gown of 2009 as well as a zibellino, fondly referred to as “Fluffy”.

The over-gown was created for Twelfth Night/January 2012. It took approximately a month of sporadic bursts of work. I followed the directions that came with the pattern. The gown is made of a rayon blend, which was sadly slippery. I liked that it had a “shot” or iridescent effect, but its slippery nature caused the foul language portion of the program. In addition, I couldn’t rip out and correct much as needle marks became permanent. The bodice is interlined in canvas, and then bag lined in cobalt linen. The bodice features a standing collar that defies my drafting skills. The trim was purchased a few years ago, and allowed to properly age in my sewing room. The gold sleeves are cut directly from the Simplicity pattern. They are the two part curved sleeve and they worked out well. The only hitch was keeping track of the lefts, rights, wrong sides, and right sides. I’ve put those sleeves together and ripped them apart about three times. The sleeve puffs are held out with modern crinoline.



  You can contact Cynthia at spinnerlady (at)

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


© 2001 - 2011 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.