Historical Sew Monthly December 2016

Complete "celebration" Italian outfit including the padded roll hat, teal figured velvet overdress, and green silk underdress with sleeves

Complete “celebration” Italian outfit including the padded roll hat, teal figured velvet overdress, and green silk underdress with sleeves

The Challenge: December – Special Occasion: make something for a special event or a specific occasion, or that would have been worn to special event or specific occasion historically.

This project was started in the summer when it was announced that my SCA friend Caterina would be elevated to the Order of the Laurel (the highest honour and responsibility in Arts & Sciences). I finished the final touches on this costume RIGHT before her elevation on November 5th, making it timed perfectly for the December HSM challenge.

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Celebration – hairpiece

Complete "celebration" Italian outfit including the padded roll hat, teal figured velvet overdress, and green silk underdress with sleeves

Complete “celebration” Italian outfit including the padded roll hat, teal figured velvet overdress, and green silk underdress with sleeves

You may have noticed from my posts about the “Celebration” Italian outfit, that I also had a hairpiece – since my own hair is not down past my waist!

For this I looked at my inspiration image, as well as a bunch of other images – many of which show a LONG ponytail, in sort of a ‘casing’, with a bit of adornment (ribbon, pearls, etc).

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Celebration – headwear

Complete "celebration" Italian outfit including the padded roll hat, teal figured velvet overdress, and green silk underdress with sleeves

Complete “celebration” Italian outfit including the padded roll hat, teal figured velvet overdress, and green silk underdress with sleeves

To top off (ha ha) my new Italian Renaissance costume, I needed headwear. I looked at a few different options:

  • I could use the Reta I already made – it fits well and is correct for the outfit I’m making.
  • I can go without any headwear at all – many of the portraits show women without headwear.
  • I could finish off the netted headdress I started, which is about half done, with the most challenging parts done.. but it’s rather unimpressive….
  • I could try something new and totally different…. which would require drafting a new pattern and starting from scratch…

.. so of COURSE with 2 weeks to go before the event, and NONE of the garments completed yet, I opted to go for the fourth option.

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Celebration- Giornea belt

The complete "Celebration" Italian outfit from the front, holding the over-dress open to show the silk skirt under it.

The complete “Celebration” Italian outfit from the front, holding the over-dress open to show the silk skirt under it.

Finally, to finish off the teal figured velvet giornea (overdress), I needed a “belt” and a closure.

For the belt I used two strips of the same teal fabric that I used for the binding, and two strips of copper-coloured silk as flat piping. I interfaced one of the teal strips with iron-on interfacing for lightweight stability, and sewed on copper metallic lace. (I started sewing this on by machine but it snagged the metallic lace, so I had to switch to hand sewing it with teal silk thread.)

For the closure I used a pair of large hooks and eyes which are pretty much hidden when the belt is closed, and used two jewellery sliders from Michaels to imitate a front clasp, since I couldn’t find any clasps in the three places I looked – or my own stash – that actually suited this costume.

Work-in-progress photo collage of making the belt for my teal overdress.

Work-in-progress photo collage of making the belt for my teal overdress.

Celebration – teal Giornea (overdress)

Complete "celebration" Italian outfit including the teal figured velvet overdress

Complete “celebration” Italian outfit including the teal figured velvet overdress

For Caterina’s elevation I wanted to make a Giornea – and overdress for the Italian Renaissance costume not unlike my previous Giornea. However, this time I wanted to try a different style, with an open front rather than open sides. I thought that this would be flattering, and would nicely show off the under dress (Gamurra).

I started by making a “muslin” or test garment/ mock up. I used a red and gold scroll home decorating fabric, which I’ll blog about soon. (Click the 1480s Florence tag to see all of my Italian garments.)

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