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 – 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 – Gamurra (sort of…)

Completed bodice and skirt in green silk for the Italian "celebration" outfit

Completed bodice and skirt in green silk for the Italian “celebration” outfit

For Caterina’s elevation, I originally was going to do a later-period Italian Renaissance gown, but the fabrics offered just didn’t seem to lend themselves nicely to the period and my figure. I felt that the figured velvet would just be too bulky for all of the gathering and fullness in the later period fashions, and so I ended up opting to go back to the earlier Renaissance period that I’ve explored before and found flattering.

Concept sketch for the matcha-green silk dress and the teal figured velvet over dress

Concept sketch for the matcha-green silk dress and the teal figured velvet over dress

With this…. I’ve started using the 1480s tag as well for these posts, and switched from 16th Century to 15th Century. I’ll still use the Caterina’s Elevation tag however if you want to follow this specific project.

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Celebration – petticoat

Green silk petticoat for my Italian outfit. Lined in blue linen, with a back closure

Green silk petticoat for my Italian outfit. Lined in blue linen, with a back closure

In lue of a full kirtle worn under our gowns, Caterina recommended we make underskirts – petticoats.  This is partially because many of us are uncomfortable with multiple layers of clothing for our costumes, and partially because of time constraints (10 +/- people making costumes for 15+/- people in 4 months). Also, these underskirts will be useful for other time periods; since most of us don’t do Italian for our main personas.

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Celebration – Under Sleeves

Green silk sleeves for my Italian costume. Lined in white linen

Green silk sleeves for my Italian costume. Lined in white linen

For this outfit, Caterina suggested a large set of over-sleeves, with optional under sleeves. I wasn’t quite ready to work on my bodice yet, but still wanted to work towards this outfit, so I started on the set of under sleeves to start.

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