Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the Realm of Venus

The Italian Renaissance Costuming Challenge

April 21 to August 21,  2011

Winner's Prize

A $50 Gift Certificate has been very kindly donated by Reconstructing History as a prize for the Overall Winner of the Challenge!

On behalf of all the entrants I would like to thank Kass McGann and the staff of Reconstructing History for their generous support of the Italian Renaissance Costuming Challenge.

The Challenge

To celebrate the Realm of Venus' tenth anniversary on the wonderful world wide web I am issuing a challenge to dedicated historical costumers everywhere: to create a complete man's, woman's or child's late Italian Renaissance outfit of any social class and based on the period 1480 - 1610 from the skin out, including an accessory, in four months. That's only one layer or accessory per month - you can do it! (Changes or additions made to the rules prior to the start of the challenge are shown in dark, bold red.


The Details

You'll have from April 21 to August 21 to plan, buy for, cut, stitch, assemble, complete, and photograph for submission an outfit from the skin out. This will be made up as follows:

Layer 1: A camicia/shift/smock/shirt or drawers or corset/pair of bodies. I don't expect you to make all three. 

Layer 2: Either an underskirt or under-dress/petticoat, or doublet and slops. 

Layer 3: The final layer will be either an over-dress, or a loose gown, or a cloak/cape. 

Layer 4: An accessory - any one of the following: fan, pocket/pouch, hat/jewelled accessory for the hair, zibellino (also known as a "flea fur"), hanky, gloves, girdle, or shoes. A partlet, a set of Venetian shoulder/neck ruffs (if they are separate from the partlet), standing ruff/collar, and a muff are all also accessories.

All who take up the challenge will have their photos, a short bio, and a description of their proposed outfit listed here. 

To enter, please send me an e-mail (address below) with these details listed: (Entry is now CLOSED)

  • your name
  • your location (state and country only)
  • a short (two to three sentence-length) bio, including whether you are a novice (as defined below)
  • a short description of your proposed four-layer outfit
  • please ensure your head/shoulders photo is attached

All entrants will be required to send me individual progress photos (one per week maximum), along with photos of their outfits when  completed, which will be uploaded to this page so we can all follow along.  The final photo/s of the completed outfit need to be sent to me no later than the 21st August 2011.The winners will be announced on August 23 2011, the anniversary of the Realm of Venus.


The Rules


Rules? well, ok, I guess a challenge like this needs rules. So...

  1. All items must be started ON or AFTER April 21 2011 ACST (See countdown timer above). The only items begun before this date accepted as part of your outfit will be one of the underwear items listed above. ONE item of underwear must be made from scratch within the competition period, along with the all the upper layers and one accessory.
  2. If you don't manage to finish all four required levels don't worry, you will still be in the running. However, those who attempt and or complete all four levels will end with more points than those who only attempt/complete one or two.
  3. This is a challenge for individuals, not groups, therefore only items sewn by the by the entrant with no help from anyone else will be accepted. However, help with pattern drafting, draping, and/or fitting is allowed. Use of commercial patterns is also allowed.
  4. Anyone may enter multiple outfits if they wish, however points will be allocated on a per-garment/item basis, not cumulatively.
  5. Progress photos must be sent: one every 4 weeks mimimum, one every week maximum. This will help to keep you all motivated and enjoying the challenge! Photos of the completed outfit to be submitted to be a minimum of three (front, back and side), or more if you wish. 
  6. Points will be allocated as follows:
10 points for each layer completed.
10 points if EVERY layer is completed.
10 points for any extra layer/accessory (over and above the four required) completed.
5 points for any layer started/attempted but not completed.
The above points will be awarded to everyone who enters, according to the criteria.

Additionally, the points below will be won by the person who best meets the criteria:
10 points to the best attempt at historically accurate DESIGN
10 points to the best attempt at historically accurate CONSTRUCTION 
(This does NOT include textiles used - period-accurate and non-period textiles will be on an equal footing to allow for differing budgets).
10 points for each inclusion of HANDWORK other than sewing straight seams, ie: hand-made lace, buttons, embroidery, weaving, shoes, use of fur (real or faux) to create/line a garment or accessory.
10 points to the best attempt by a sewing NOVICE 
(A novice for this purpose is someone with less than three years of sewing experience).
10 points to the best attempt by a NOVICE in Italian Renaissance clothing/costume 
(A novice for this purpose is someone who has attempted less than three Italian Renaissance - 15th-16th centuries - outfits prior to this challenge).

The OVERALL WINNER will be the person with the highest total points from ALL categories above. Other winners will be Best Design, Best Construction, Best Handwork, Best Novice: Sewing and Best Novice: Italian Renaissance

All entries will be evaluated by me, with the option of enlisting the help of volunteers should the number of entrants get unwieldy. 

With thanks to all of you for making the first ten years of my website thoroughly enjoyable!

Bella Lucia da Verona
(Anabella Wake)
The Realm of Venus