Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the Realm of Venus

The Italian Renaissance Costuming Challenge

 April 21 to August 21, 2011

Rebecca Marie Egan

Location: Colorado, USA

Bio: I've always had a creative tilt and my mother tried to teach me how to sew when I was younger. But it took the SCA to push me towards developing my skills. I've a serious fondness for natural fibers and couture sewing techniques and finishes. I also do draped drafting of all my patterns. This will be only my third gown in the style. I've spent rather too much time drafting for friends and household. So I'm very excited to have a chance to show how my finishing skills have improved since my first dress was featured on the Realm of Venus. 

Project: Linen short corset, camicia, and drawers; roped silk petticoat; high-waisted gown in the style of 1510-1520's Venice; embellished Turkish coat; balzo and faux zibellino.

Project Blog: http://beccaberry73178.blogspot.com/

Inspiration images: Elizabeth Taylor in The Taming of the Shrew, and Titian's portrait of Laura de Dianti.

Images of my materials.

Short corset is almost finished....just needs to be bound out...but I'm liking the fit. It gives me that period line I'm looking to emulate. Obviously the neckline is in need of a partlette though.....little too much cleavage going on.


Although red silk taffeta is traditional for a petticoat I couldn't quite face putting red next to the raspberry color I'm using in the gown. Plus I'm a bit concerned that I might boil......sooooo liturgical linen in white will be the base fabric for my petticoat with rows of pink silk ribbon.

My mother kindly draped me while I was in the corset....so this weekend I should be go for getting the gown pattern drafted.

Additional base fabrics (more velvet....etc....) have been ordered in addition to some black liturgical linen for my drawers. I know the color choice isn't strictly period. This color choice is for practical reasons to extend their wear and reduce my quality time with a bleach stick.
July 12: The last two months have been crazy with sewing and cooking for Battlemoor aka WAR!!!......anyways I've managed to get some primary construction and drafting done for my IRCC entry....nothing is finished yet but I'm making some measurable forward progress.

My first camicia has its body seams done, neck hemmed, lace attached, neck hand gathered.....I need to set the gathers by hand with a strip of linen and attach the cuffs.

I've drafted the pattern for my drawers out of Janet Arnold, Main body seams on them are machine flat felled in an accent thread color. Next gathering to the waistband.
I've decided to do a cartridge pleated purple linen 'petticoat' layer....I've gotten the bodice built.....next I need to attach the skirt.

I'm also about halfway done with binding out my short stays in silk by hand.

August 16: This is basically a photo update. My esteemed lady mother was nice enough to take the pictures while I was catching some sleep. 

Not pictured is my gold veil which is all roll hemmed and ready to go, and my black veil which still has some hemming and beading to go. My camicia still has the cuffs to go that the sleeves are to be cartridge pleated to....the technique is pretty well documented in JA's Patterns of Fashion 3. Its looking solid that I complete the challenge on time!

Sleeves cartridge pleated to the shoulder and my layered trim.

Lots and lots of cartridge pleating.

Bound wool hemline with hand couched rope trim - this spins oh so nice when its on.

Using furrier techniques I've hand rolled the edges of the fur and whipped the other side to carrier strips for attachment to the coat. Bit brutal on the fingers this process.

Both coat and sottana are getting close to 100% done.

The back of the dress.

Rebecca's Final Update

My finished camicia. I've gone with the long cuff style featured in POF3 and Moda Firenze. The neckline is cartridge pleated then set with a ribbon banding. Primary frenched body seams were done by machine but all the finish work (i.e. cuffs, neckline, pleating) was all done by hand.

Cuff detail of the sleeve on the camicia. The 'buttons' are marble beads each sewn on with the thread wrapped shank technique shown in POF3. The construction of the cuffs was all by hand using mostly running stitch. These were set onto the sleeve by hand as well.
The layers under the camicia. The short stays are linen bound in silk. They are stiffened with weed whacker line. I've found that it has a comparable spring rate to reed while being far more washable and less susceptible to humidity and heat. The drawers are patterned after a pair in the Met featured in both MF and POF3. The picture doesn't show this but they are the type that are gathered to a set waist band and close with eyelets and ribbon in the front. Primary construction on these was flat felling on the machine. However the waistband was set by hand and the front opening was also finished by hand.

I did the pattern drafting for all three garments myself.


The sottana has no visible machine stitching. Most of the basting and some primary body seams were done by machine but all the finish work and the lacing rings were done by hand. 

The trim around the neckline is handmade layered strips; of pinked bias strip of the silk, strip of the cloth of gold, and the same blue wool that the hem is guarded with.

I accomplished the 'poof' of the bronzino style sleeve underlining the top edge of the sleeve with a folded strip of silk organza before cartridge pleating the sleeve to the bodice.

The entire bodice is interlined in linen to add extra body to the silk used, then bag-lined in linen as well. The lining was closed up by hand but primary construction seams were done by machine.

The guard at the bottom of the skirt is blue wool that has been heavily felted. After it was attached I accented it with couched rope trim done by hand. This in combination with the cartridge pleating gives the skirt great body and movement.

The fur on the coat is all hand rolled and attached to to carry strips by hand using old furrier methods. I attached the fur by hand as well.

This in progress photo shows how I used twill tape as carrier strips to X stitch on the full pleats on the back of the coat. Similar construction is shown in POF1.

The idea with this coat was to emulate the look of a fully fur lined coat, without me melting.

I made two veils that I can wear separately or together. Both are roll hemmed by hand, the black 'visiting' veil has a lace insertion going down the center of the veil. I wore both together for the photo's they can be seen in action in all of my pictures so far. But these three pics show off the roll hemming and the lace insertion especially.



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