About Æva: I have been playing in the SCA for just about 4 years now. Sewing wise my mother taught me as a child and I have continued on making Halloween Costumes, Cosplay, and now historical garments. My recent sewing has been keeping my child in garb, and finishing off leftover projects from college… I sew often but finishing things is a weak point. I usually play 10th Century Anglo Saxon this is a huge challenge for me as we go from clever triangles and rectangles to curves and yards upon yards of fabric. The first dress I was given help from the lovely The Honorable Lady Isabelle de Calais, as she created a first draft of the bodice based on her own. I also referenced much of her work as I rushed to complete the dress in under a week. When I am not sewing I am playing with illumination and other fiber arts.
Her Project: The plan is to remake a noble woman’s 1560’s Venetian dress. I had made one for our Baronial 12th night this past year. However, the dress needs to be reworked and I would like to see a more complete outfit. If you have seen the Venetian Province of Treviso, Republic of Venice Paolo Caliari (Veronese), 1561: Detail from fresco Treviso, Villa Barbaro That is basically the color and cut of the dress I plan to make. However, this piece will be more Modern Recreationist as I do not have the knowledge or skill to bring this to a Historically Focused masterpiece. Why? I honestly fell in love with this dress! It is comfy yet elegant and I would like to do it justice not just leave it as a one-off. The Layers I plan to make a set of Drawers, fix the Camicia neckline, cut a new bodice to correct the errors I made on the first dress, re-do the pleats on the skirt properly and attach to the bodice, make a Partlet, make a pair of sleeves, making a zimarra, make a zibellini. I plan to hand sew, a number of pieces but because of the time limit will be using machine stitching as needed. I will also attempt to document my progress via my blog ofgreenandgold.com
Drawers- 16th Century Italy lady. Drawers have been documented by Janet Arnold and extent pieces exist. I made these based off a tutorial by Maestrina Chiaretta di Fiore (www.kitsclothingcollection.com) using the Bara Method outlined by the Modern Maker. I started by making a custom pattern based on the tutorial. First I made a set of Bara tapes. From there I drew the pattern out on paper before cutting some duckybunny to make a mockup. However once sewn up I found that the gusset was not needed as the inseam was long enough. Once the gusset was removed and the mockup resewn I ran about a bit to make sure I would not split them. Satisfied that the drawers fit I cut the final pair in a heavy linen. I also cut a cuff to finish the bottom. I machine stitched the main seams but chose to finish the front and back by hand to prevent fraying. I pressed the cuff in 4ths and used tacking stitch to attach them to the leg. I used the machine to top stitch them on. I folded the top over an inch to make a casing for the drawstring.
The drawstring I made using wool yarn I had dyed prior to this challenge with marigold and a lucet. The lucet was a new skill for me as I hadn’t owned one prior to this year and my last attempt with a borrowed one ended in a mess. Once I figured it out I made a length to use.
Over all I am pleased with making a working pair of pants. Pants are my nemesis and I haven’t made a working pair until now. The drawers are very comfy and I look forward to wearing them to events over my usual leggings.
About Agatha: I have been in the SCA for about 12 years. My expertise is in patterning/draping and sewing clothing, specifically 15th century Austrian/German garments. I specialize in underwear! This will be a stretch and a challenge, since it’s not my specialty, but I am excited for this!
Her Project: I plan to create a complete 16th century Trossfrau outfit to match the colors of my barony (I am the Baroness of my group). I will also be making a Landsknecht outfit for my husband. I don’t have any specific image yet.
Her final thoughts on her C3 experience:
I had a great time! I would like to say that the items in my picture that were not made for the challenge include: purse with pouches, my socks and shoes, and my headwear.
This is a supportive “slip” or skirted “bra”, based on a 16th century image of a Nuremburg bath attendant. This garment is completely handsewn, and includes smocking along the top bust edge, and fingerloop braids for lacing along both sides.
This is a hand-sewn linen hemd, pleated and smocked along the neck edge and cuffs. It is based on 16th century extant shirts and woodcut images of Trossfrau. I used a running stitch in linen thread for most seams, and felled them with an overcast stitch.
This is a sleeveless undergown of yellow wool, with black wool guards. It laces up the front, and the bodice is lined with natural linen. That I know of, there are no extant examples of Trossfrau undergowns, so I made an educated guess about its construction. A skirt alone would be combersome, so I decided that attaching it to a bodice made sense for keeping the skirts in place, and could be used as a primary layer in warm weather. The skirts are attached using large knife pleats; the edge was finished in a strip of linen and whip stitched to the bodice.
This is a black wool overgown, with slashed sleeves lined in yellow linen. I used a wide variety of 16th century prints of Landsknecht and Trossfrau as my inspiration. I decided to simply slash the sleeves, leaving them “unbound”, as I believe they would have been in period. I chose yellow linen for its lightweight wicking properties, as well as being more comfortable as a lining than wool. The bodice is lined with white linen, and the skirts are attached in the same way as the undergown. The guards are yellow wool (the same wool as the undergown) My baronial colors (Endewearde) are yellow and black, so that informed my color choices.
This is a leather flacket, or flask. I used waxed linen to hand-sew it together, and modern black dye to dye it. It will eventually be lined with brewer’s pitch, and has a wooden stopper.
About Agnes: I’ve been in the SCA for more than a decade. I regularly hand sew almost all of the clothes my husband and I wear (I’m pretty sure my sewing machine is out to get me). I have made a number of Japanese outfits for both my husband and myself before. I will be dyeing most if not all of the fabric that will be used for this project and this will be the first time I have done this for a whole Japanese outfit. I have done single layers of Japanese items before and I have done the dyeing of all items for a Viking outfit before. I am actually making this as part of a pair of outfits but I am only entering the one outfit into the challenge. I will also be learning kumihimo for this project as it will be needed for the bag I plan to make. Some of the basic construction of kosode will be very easy for me as I have done it a number of times the challenge level will be in getting the dyeing, including shibori, done within the timeframe and learning a new skill, kumihimo. I do plan to start learning kumihimo before the official start date.
Her Project: The outfit will be for a Japanese woman, the style is seen in art ranging from the Kamakura era through the Muromachi and Momoyama periods (1185 – 1600). The primary imagery used will be Momoyama (1568 – 1600). There are several kosode (the period version of the kimono) layers as well as a final kosode that is worn over the head when walking out of the house. I will also be making a bag used for carrying things that can be seen in the art of the period. The most influential period image is from the folding screen found on this website
Her final thoughts on the Challenge:
In Japanese clothing it is a period thing to use other art forms such as poetry. The day we were dyeing the plain fabrics I noticed how much the fabrics looked the same color as the leaves on the trees. A week or so later while the leaves were still on the trees we had a snowfall with large snowflakes. This inspired me to scrap my plans for the top layer and instead create the design using snowflakes. The outfit is titled “Snowfall on Autumn Leaves”.
This is a Japanese ‘underwear’ layer, or Jubon, for my 16th century Japanese lady’s outfit. I had originally planned to make this layer out of ramie as ramie and hemp are the known cellulose fibers for Japan in the period. Unfortunately my fabric still hasn’t arrived so I opted to use linen as a reasonable substitute. The linen I ended up using may be a little thicker but since there are only 3 layers for the official entry I wanted to be sure the collar would be stiff enough.
The design as far as I know is more assumption than based on any extent pieces from period nor any actual art. This is however the common design used by the re-enactment community.
The garment is shorter than the overgarments will be. The sleeves are straight instead of shaped like the overgarments will be. The only thing intending to be seen is the collar. In period the garment might not have been visible at all but due to the nature of this project the collar will be visible. I created the collar so it is actually 4 layers thick to be sure it will be nice and sturdy.
The obi is a necessary part of the garment, it holds the collar in place. I actually forgot to plan for this obi somehow so it is very much rushed. It is 4 layers thick folded in half then folded in half again so the raw edge was on the inside. I just whip stitched the edge since it isn’t going to be visible.
All sewing is done by hand with linen thread. Seams I doubled the thread. They are stitched with a running stitch with the occasional back stitch to keep the stitching from possibly gathering up on accident. I used single threads for finishing the French seams and on the hems and collar attachment. French seams are almost certainly not a period seam treatment as period garments were made from fabrics that were the width of the body panels so nearly all the seams in the garment would be the finished edge of the fabric. Since I’m working with linen only the side seams were the finished edges of the fabric. Even if I had the ramie I would likely still need to do the seam finishing as modern fabrics are not made in the widths of period fabrics (approximately 18 inch widths). Screen reader support enabled.
This kosode is the main garment layer of this outfit. Kosode is the period term for what we might modernly call a kimono, the cut is different than that of a modern kimono. A more formal look would include a second kosode layer between the skin layer and this layer but that is not part of the official plan for this project.
This style of clothing would be seen on any person of wealth or samurai class in 16ht century Japan. The cut and style would differ just a little between men and women, the main difference being the men would of this status would wear hakama (pants) but women did not. This is not however court wear, it is the style of clothing that would be worn to go out to the city or perhaps even to visit a shrine or temple or enjoy a theater performance.
The use of panels of different colors/fabrics is seen in several extent period pieces. It is called Dan-gawari. I decided to try that particular style with this challenge as a way to challenge myself while still working with what is really a rather basic garment.
The silk broadcloth used in this garment is hand dyed by myself. The yellow is mordanted with symplacose which is a bio-accumlator alum mordant. I started using this morant years ago for Japanese dyes as the natural alum used in traditional Japanese dyes is also a bio-accumulator. I have recently learned however that symplacose is known to be native to Japan so it is possible this may have also been used in the period. I did a secondary mordant with pomegranate. I am not certain about the availability of pomegranate in 16th century Japan however yellow tannins like pomegranate would have been available. Finally the dye used is cork bark which is a known dye from the period.
The orange/red is also started with symplacose. Then cutch as the secondary mordant which also doesn’t have documentation of being available in Japan in the period however its distribution in Asia means it might have been available as an imported dye stuff. However, even if cutch was not available in the period in Japan other brown tannins would have been available. Finally the main dye is madder specifically rubia cordifolia, or Indian Madder. This particular species of madder there is documentation for it being available in Japan prior to the 16th century. I have not yet had a chance to dye with Japanese Madder yet so I do not know how different the 2 dyes may be. It is worth noting that rubia cordifolia is used to make akane red, a traditional vibrant red.
Finally the green of the obi is started with symplacose, followed by copper, followed by cork bark, followed by indigo. The obi is actually made from extra fabric available from what will be the inner kosode between the skin layer and this layer eventually but probably will not actually be part of this competition.
All of my fabric is dyed using a modified version of ‘the log’ method taught to me by Mistress Willoc Mac Muiredaig at Gulf Wars several years ago. The main modification is that I use a pvc pipe to allow easier manipulation of the fabric with fewer people. This method of dyeing actually is very similar to methods used by modern artisanal dyers in Japan. The method uses a moderately large dye vat, however not as large as would be needed if you were going to try dyeing the same amount of fabric purely by immersion and stirring. A pole is set horizontally over the vat by a variety of methods, my set up was constructed by my apprentice brother. The fabric is then manipulated over the pole (aka log) and into the vat, then back out, and back in repeatedly. When I learned this method at Gulf Wars there were at least 6 of us involved including the teacher and we were using 5 yard pieces max. Often I am limited to just one or two assistants to help me with my dyeing. Due to this limitation I have actually adopted my modification of using the pvc pipe over the ‘log’. This allows the fabric to more easily roll over the ‘log’ without needing another set of hands to keep the fabric from tangling on the log. It is likely that in period that similar methods would be used as well.
The construction of the kosode involved a number of steps. First I use the pulled thread method of cutting all the pieces to ensure straight edges to work with. Second each panel I finished the edges on using a rolled or hidden hem before attaching them together and constructing the garment. This particular step serves a dual purpose. The first is just simplicity of not having to worry about the fabric unraveling while I work with it. Second to a degree it helps with accuracy as the width of the body panels is actually the width of period fabrics so those edges wouldn’t have been raw in period and would not have needed any seam finishing once the garment was constructed. I used silk thread I dyed at the same time as the fabrics for any visible stitching. For construction I used linen thread I have on hand, likely if a cellulose fiber was used in period it would have been either hemp or ramie. The construction stitches are actually just a running stitch, this is the traditional way of modern kimono construction and is to the best of our knowledge what was done in period. I do add the occasional back stitch for extra stability while I sew and to keep me from accidentally pleating up my stitching.
The pattern of the kosode is fairly simple and standard. The basics for construction I always refer to this website, http://www.wodefordhall.com/page4.html, there are however many other places that provide similar instructions. There are 2 different styles of kosode in period. One where the sleeves are of equal or almost equal width as the body panels, similar to the pattern provided on the website. The more common style seen in extent pieces however have a sleeve width that is approximately half of the width of the body panels. That is the style used in this garment. Years ago I did research on the proportions of sleeve width to body panels and sleeve length to body panels and created calculations for how to cut out my garments based on the full width at the shoulder and the length from shoulder to hem. I used those calculations in the design of this pattern. I did however end up with sleeves that don’t come down quite as far on my arms as I had planned but it is probably only an inch or two short so it isn’t too bad. The obi is also stitched with a running stitch as a tube inside out, I did use the matching thread for this stitching even though I was hoping it would be invisible. Obi in period are very slender and not nearly as extravagant as modern obi. I am personally of the opinion that they probably were often made from pieces left over after construction of kosode.
I am actually hoping to add embroidery to this layer in the future but there was no time to try to learn how to do period Japanese embroidery within the constraints of this project. I really appreciated that the colors of the fabric almost matched the color of the trees in the area the days we were dyeing. It’s a wonderful fall feel and lends itself towards the period approach to clothing ‘telling a story’. The embroidery will help tell the story of the fall at the time of the project.
Top kosode layer that can be worn over the head or like an uchikake unbelted by a samurai class woman. It should likely be lined however I overheat easily so prefer to not line unless it is absolutely necessary.
The kosode is decorated using shibori dyeing techniques. To create this style of decoration the garment must be basted together then the design is drawn on by hand. Then the garment is taken apart and the designs are stitched using a running stitch. When the stitching is complete I always wash the fabric to prepare it for dyeing. Finally to keep the dye from the white sections they must be blocked from the dye. The running stitches are pulled tight and the sections are plugged with plastic wrapped corks and the section to remain white is covered in plastic wrap. This is of course not period but the actual art form as it was known in period was lost to history and the few ideas for how it was done in period are not currently achievable by myself. Instead I use methods similar to those used by traditional artisans in Japan modernly.
Finally after the dyeing is completed the garment must be carefully reconstructed to get the designs matched up as they were originally laid out. I always mark the garment with identification stitches in various places throughout the garment to help make this an easier step.
A small bag. This bag was based almost exclusively on the artwork in the period. I was able to find one extent piece however the image available from the museum is of the bag closed and it is very difficult to determine how it is constructed.
The final bag is made from pieces left over from layer 2, sewn together then cut into the pattern used for making the mockup bag. I did change the pattern a little for the final bag from the mockup and I think I am a little disappointed with the final shape.
The cord for the drawstring and the body of the bag are made using modern kumihimo techniques. This was a skill I learned specifically for this challenge. The drawstring cord is my second ever round braid and the flat braid is my first ever flat braid. The flat braid does appear to be necessary to get the bag to properly maintain its shape. I’m not totally happy with the final placement of the braids but it functions. It should be noted that kumihimo is not a period braiding technique however those who are well versed in the period art form have been known to accept kumihimo as a very close method that gives essentially the same look. I dyed all the yarn for the kumihimo myself but much of it was dyed prior to the start of the competition so they dye on the yarn should not be considered as part of the competition.
About Annora: My main art focus is costuming. I will be using this challenge to make an outfit I had already planned. This will help provide some outside motivation for me to work on my project and stretch a little.
Her Project: Outfit will be an early Tudor ensemble indicative of the turn of the 16th century showcasing the stylistic change in silhouette. The outer gown will display pleating techniques in the back and have a wrap closure. The hood will be embellished with pearls and spangles as seen in several contemporary tapestries.
The body linen layer of the early 16th century was very similar to body linen layers of the previous eras. It is constructed using geometric shaped pattern pieces. For women it is ankle length. The sleeves are wrist length and narrow to fit through fitted outer sleeves. The neckline is square to match the kirtle with a high v in the back. I’ve made this same pattern many times and it wears very well. I did a reverse facing to complete the square neckline. I do not think I will do this in the future as I don’t like the look. But it would be a good method to apply an embroidered band to the neckline.
The linen is a lightweight linen from 96 District and the seams were sewn with a fine white silk thread by hand.
A pink linen kirtle of the early 16th century in England. It has been constructed with a separate waist seam and pleated skirt and short sleeves as seen in primary source images. The bodice is interlined with linen canvas and lined with 5oz white linen. This provides good shape and support to the bodice without being pad stitched or otherwise manipulated. I believe the early 16th century is too early for the use of pad stitching or other technical tailoring techniques. 20 hand bound eyelets were sewn in silk thread. Most of the construction seams were done with cotton thread. The kirtle is completely hand sewn and created from a pattern that I drafted. There are several process photos showing stages of construction and finishing. Fit is the most important thing about this layer as the kirtle supports the bust and provides the shape for the outer layer. I’m overall very happy with the fit of this kirtle. But I may tweak a few spots for the future. The shoulder straps could be a bit tighter and fit closer to the body. The facing around the neckline made the square corners much easier to sew but does add bulk to the neckline as well. This is the first time that I’ve used the fashion fabric for this purpose. A thin silk would reduce bulk here. The waistline is straight but appears to dip lower in the back of the kirtle. I believe this is an illusion created by how the kirtle fits on the body. The bodice was drafted with a straight waistline. An adjustment to the back of the bodice, raising it slightly, might account for this and correct the illusion. The hem goes to the floor but may be raised in the future as the kirtle is intended to be worn inside and outside.
This is a wool transitional gown from the turn of the 16th century. It’s has a wrap front closure that is shaped similar to 15th century gowns. But the back has developed more fullness and shows pleating techniques that start to be used more in the 16th century. The sleeves are a trumpet shape popular of this time period. It is fully lined in silk and hand sewn.
About Constanzia : My name is Duquessa Constanzia and I’m a laurel from Lochac. I joined the SCA in the early 90s. I’m one of the patrons of the Iberian clothing prize. My persona is Spanish and I love capsule wardrobes so I could not resist this challenge! It’s so lovely to participate from the antipodes! I hope that by showing some of the interesting clothing from Spain, that others may find it interesting too.
Her Project: I’m still deciding which Iberian outfit I want. Do I want northern spanish with the crazy hats and choupines? Do I want mid c16th Spanish with crazy sleeves and choupines? I definately want choupines…. let’s start there!
About Edine : I’m Edine Godin from Innilgard, Lochac. I’ve been in the SCA since 2006. I’ve previously been a keen fencer and a bit of a sewer. I don’t make myself fancy court clothes very often, preferring lower-class clothing. Now I have a reason to make a ‘dream gown’ for myself, but I haven’t made garb at all for a couple of years and nothing structured for about five, so I’m feeling very rusty! The outfit will be as close to my person’s era and status as I can make it. The deadlines particularly will be a challenge for me as I already have a full plate – but without them, I haven’t been making time to sew. I’m hoping this competition and the community of people supporting and encouraging each other will help re-light my fire of sewing interest and motivation.
Her Project: I will make mid to late 16th century French noblewoman clothes reflecting my persona. Drawers, chemise, and partlet; kirtle in black linen with silk trim; green silk gown, sleeves, and headwear; and jewellery – girdle, necklace, and earrings. I’m basing the outfit off a couple of engravings, with additional portraits for some details. I wanted a gown in my new heraldic colours of vert and argent for a special occasion. I’ve been thinking about a nice court gown for a while but haven’t had a good reason to expend the energy and money towards it, as I’m constantly on a budget for both.
Layers 1 & 2
This month I worked on my underskirt for Layer 2. It is nearly complete, I only need to whip stitch down the front of the waistband and put a fastening on it (hook and eye). The hook and eye can’t be done until I make a pair of bodies. I had someone fit a bodice for me and it became obvious then that I need the full Elizabethan style underpinnings. I will make a pair of bodies and then get fitted again for the over-gown.
If I could do this all over again, I’d seek fitting help for everything, not just the bodice. I would buy a second fold-up trestle table much earlier – having two of them together has made a huge difference to cutting and pinning. I sat down with a friend and made a week-by-week plan to get my outfit done. I’m struggling to juggle sewing and mundane life, so there will be many helpers involved from this point onwards.
About Elizabeth: I reside in The Shire of Canale, Cynagua, The West. I have been in the sca for almost a year now! I picked up sewing to create garb and have taken some college classes on sewing and design. I love researching French/English court dress of the early 1560s, and am researching women’s education in the third quarter of the 16th century. This project is not for me, but will be made for my sister.
Her Project: I will be creating an outfit suitable for a Florentine lady of means around 1565-1575. The items required are, a Camica, a small farthingale, a supportive kirtle, a doublet dress, an over gown, and finally a set of jewels. The outfit is primarily based on, Follower of Francesco Salviati del Rossi, called Il Salviati Portrait of a lady, half-length, in a richly embroidered, high-necked white dress with pink trim, a jeweled headdress and pearl necklace, seated holding gloves in her left hand.
This is a 1560s Florentine kirtle, and partlet. The pattern was drafted using the modern maker, and adjusted to fit the visual sources I referenced. It is made of cotton canvas, linen blend, and cotton velvet. The bodice is stiffened with layers of wool and buckram, pad stitched together to stay rigid. The partlet is made of fine white linen, and trimmed with gold picot braid. This layer took longer that anticipated, but I am happy with the results.
About Eva: I have been in the SCA for almost 10 years now. I like to sew garb in the society but it is not something I do all the time; I also like to knit, do illuminations, and accumulate new hobbies to try. My persona tends to be 12th century onward. I have not completely settled on one time quite yet but this outfit is one for a persona I have considered. This project , despite having done some tudor before will still be challenging. I plan on handsewing this outfit almost entirely. The over-gown is something I have never made before which I will have to pattern and actually really intimidates me.
Her Project: I am going to make an upper class tudor outfit. This outfit is based on portraits of Mary I (1544) & Elizabeth I (1546) from when they were girls. In the past I have created, with much help an outfit for the tudor middle class women. The two outfit have the same shift and kirtle layers but vastly different gowns. My goal for this project is to sew almost everything by hand. I will be adding substitute whale bonesto the kirtle to provide extra stability and structure, which I have not done before.
Knitted Wool socks, late 1500s using a Modern maker knitting pattern. I made some mistake along the way so the socks are not entirely identical/do not follow the pattern exactly. These are the first pair of socks I have completed ever!
About Gianna: I’ve been active in the SCA for 4 years. I’ve sewn for a long time but over the past 3 years I have started focusing on learning how to construct my clothing using historical methods and fabrics versus modern methods. My primary focus is 1450-1580 Florence. However, I have a strong interest in Tudor England and Venice. When not sewing I dabble in tablet weaving and other fiber arts. I find Florentine clothing to be challenging and deceptive. All of the structure of Florentine clothing is created within the clothing itself, meaning, they did not have corsets or farthingales to create the overall shape and support. Creating the veste will require a few new skills so this should be interesting.
Her Project: I’m drawn to the elegance of the portrait of Isabella de Medici by Alessandro Allori from around 1560, Florence. I will recreate the ensemble seen in that painting. Isabella was part of the Medici family who was ruling Florence, Italy at the time. An outfit of velvet and numerous pearls would’ve been worn by upper nobility as I imagine the cost would’ve been prohibitive for anyone else. This is an outfit that I’ve been wanting to make for a while and have completed some of the pieces that will not be entered into this competition.
I will be making the camicia, sottana, and her veste (or overgown). The sottana is the supportive middle layer dress that will help create the overall shape. The sottana will be made it so that it can be worn as stand alone dress. For my 4th, non-sewing item I will be making a pair of chopines. These are elevated platform shoes meant for outdoor wear to keep dresses and shoes out of the muck and show off wealth.
Her final thoughts on the C3 experience:
This was really fun but if there’s a next time I hope that it doesn’t line up with the IRCC challenge because completing both was a lot. Overall I now have some new clothes that I really like and can’t wait to wear them to an event.
I’m submitting a linen camicia which is the underlayer that was worn by everyone. Since my entry is later period I added cotton lace around the neckline and wrists. The construction seams are machine sewn but all finishing is done by hand (hem, felled seams, and lace). Once I can try it on with the sottana I may wish that the neckline was a bit lower but we’ll see.
I’ve made a upper class women’s sottana (dress) that would’ve been worn between 1540-1560+. It’s difficult to know exactly when Florentine women stopped wearing these because they went from being the outer layer to being the middle layer throughout the 16th century. I went ahead and made this dress so that it could be worn as it’s own dress or as a supportive layer. Bodies, stays, or farthingales weren’t found in Florence during period so all support and structure are created within the sottana.
The outer layer is a shot silk dupioni that’s either an icy blue or periwinkle, depending on the light. It’s trimmed in a dark blue velvet in a pattern that is fairly common for the era. The sleeves are also trimmed in the same velvet and feature a spiral design. The bodice and sleeves are lined in linen. The support and structure of the bodice was created by layering duck cloth and melton wool per the method found in The Modern Maker vol. 2. The skirt is stiffened with wool felt that I stiffened with 3 rows of zig zag stitching creating a faux pad stitch.
The bodice is side laced through metal lacing rings. I wove 2 cords on the lucet with pearle cotton which I then waxed (wax, melt into the fibers, repeat) to strengthen the cords and hopefully help prevent wear from the lacing rings.
I made a veste/over dress based on the gown worn by Isabella de’Medici in a portrait by Alessandro Allori.
I began by modifying a bodice pattern that I had from previous projects. The bodice is velveteen, inner-lined with pad stitched wool in the bust and back area to help define and stiffen the upper chest while the entire bodice is inner-lined with canvas. The bodice is closed with hooks and eyes that I made then lined with silk charmeuse. I created tabs with velveteen edged with white silk and sewed them around the bottom of the bodice.
The skirt is cartridge pleated beginning near the hip and around the back. This provides fullness and mimics a the shape that a bum roll would create. Bum rolls weren’t worn in Florence during this time. There’s 3 layers of wool stitched together and sewn into the hem to help stiffen the hem and create a bell shape. (farthingales weren’t in Florence yet)
The baragoni (shoulders) were broken into 5 segments. A row of tabs, followed by vertical panes, another row of tabs, a cuff, and another row of tabs. I backed the panes with buckram to help stiffen them and support the pearl cluster. I should’ve made the buckram pieces longer. The cuff is lined with canvas to help support the weight of the pearls. The baragoni were then sewn onto the armscye.
I took a sleeve pattern and broke it into 3 sections. The two outer sections I then divided into smaller pieces to get the angled pieces. Each piece is trimmed with silk ribbon and sewn together at the corners with pearl clusters. The sleeve pieces were lined and closed up. They attach to the veste shoulders with lacing rings and lucet cord.
It pretty much went together as planned but this gown has been swimming in my head for about a year now. Overall it was a great learning experience and I like it a lot better than the first veste that I made. There’s not much that I’d change other than making the sleeves a bit smaller because they seem a bit big.
I made a pair of pianelle which is an overshoe. These could be worn either with just stockings for indoor wear or over slippers for outdoors. The style that I went with can be worn either way because they lace up and can be adjusted.
The research that I found stated that pianelles (under 3″ tall) and chopines (over 3″ tall) were made of wood. We started out with that plan but couldn’t find a ban saw big enough to cut the massive block of wood. I ran across a pair of sandals with a cork base and plan B was developed. I took the vinyl straps off of the shoes for my base.
I patterned the vamps from paintings, extant examples, and other recreations. The vamps are velveteen to match the veste, inner-lined in canvas, and lined in some cotton that I had laying around. I worked 6 eyelets into each piece to be able and lace them closed.
I had some suede and thought that it would make for a nice insole, sturdy enough to stand up to being worn with slippers but nice enough to wear with stockings alone. I used more velveteen scraps to make long strips that would be drawn over the sides of the shoe and glued down. Since my sewing machine wasn’t capable of sewing through all of the layers I ended up sewing it together using waxed linen thread and a saddle stitch. Once the covers were done I glued them to the shoe. Once the glue dried I added some gimp around the bottom of the shoes and laced them up.
They’re surprisingly comfy and fairly easy to walk in.
About Gisele: I have been in the SCA since about 2015/16, I don’t recall when exactly. I do not sew regularly for myself in the SCA, though I do sew quite a bit for my partner. I dabble a bit in period cooking, sometimes making period recipes by accident, period dying is fun and I have recently started tinkering with illumination since I have all these hard won watercolor skills that aren’t currently in use. This particular project ties nicely into the direction my persona is going, which is developing more French, though all my current garb is Flemish. I started Flemish, mostly because the garb was comfy and there is a certain quality to late period Flemish kitchen scenes that I love. But in the last couple years I have drifted more French because the period cookbooks are fun, the politics are bonkers and the women of the late period French are a force to be reckoned with.
Her Project: Late Period French Lady’s Ensemble. Between 1530-1550. Lesser Nobility or Wealthy Merchant Class woman(new money from the newly expanding global trade). Not a recreation of any one particular dress, but a combination of features I like from a selection of paintings within the same time period/region. Hood from one image, trim from another, etc. Much of it styled after one of my favorite French Mistresses, Diane de Poitiers, a brilliant woman who managed to stay in favor at the court through multiple French Kings with her intelligence and beauty. Mostly, this ensemble is all the things that have been on the “to make eventually for myself” list. I have had most of the materials for a while, but while I was costuming for a living(the pre-covid times) I usually didn’t have the motivation to also sew in my off hours. I have collected several images for inspiration.
Layer 1. Chemise, Petticoat & Farthingale Chemise made of linen, following a pattern I made based on what I could see in French portraits from the first half of the 16th century. It is a yoked chemise with a yoke about 2” wide, fairly full sleeves gathered into a cuff at the wrist. I have not included a wrist ruffle, as I find them irritating, especially when trying to wash my hands at events and with no viable ruffle in some portraits I decided to leave them off. The second garment here is the requisite red petticoat, in my case made of red linen for added comfort and breathability. There are so many layers, any breathability I can get in the under layers I am going for. I have made a modification to the style, removing the shoulder straps and making it only go around the waist. I tried for a while to make the straps work, but with two additional shoulder layers being added on top, the limited range of motion caused by the petticoat straps sliding down constantly did not make the garment a joy to wear. So, I have removed them and made the petticoat to be able to lace onto the second layer’s farthingale for stability. This was much better for wearability. I have also made both layers a little shorter that seems indicated in my research, again for wearability. While I don’t think our historical counterparts would have had to encounter gymnasium bleachers all that often, they are a regular feature of our events and since it is easier to lift a farthingale than the layers under it, I made them shorter to make it safer to navigate the bleachers. Nothing ruins one’s dignity quite like falling on gym bleachers. On to the Farthingale. This was an especially fun piece to work on. In this case I used a tight woven, heavy shirting cotton I had in my stash for the base and a plaid taffeta for the hoop casings. And once again, the problem of navigating mundane spaces in period clothes raised its head. Hm, how to get in a car in a farthingale? The solution was to make the hoops removable and easy to reinsert. The hoops themselves are made of half round rattan caning purchased from a basket maker online. After a good sanding to smooth them out, they slide in and out of the casings easily and should make the whole ensemble easier to work with in the crowded spaces we sometimes find ourselves at events (looking at you Kris Kinder)
Layer 2. Kirtle and Foresleeves On to the Kirtle. Initially when I started this project I thought there would have to be a separate set of bodies under the kirtle for support but have been fortunate to find that is unnecessary with the quantity and quality of the boning I used in the kirtle itself. I have employed artificial whalebone in this case, for durability and because it is washable, giving the whole garment a better chance at a long life. Additionally for extra support I added a couple small pads under the breasts to keep them in place with small sudo-cups. No matter how tight I laced, the girls kept sliding around and clearly needed some direction as to where they should be. The pads solved this problem without having to strangle myself. The kirtle side laces, for ease of wear, make it possible to dress myself and keeps the back neckline free of any visible lacing. The foresleeves are another piece of period clothing fun that I love learning about. These little beauties tie just above the elbow to cover the chemise sleeve without adding bulk to the upper arm part of the oversleeve. These little guys are slashed with fake puffs pulled out, and as I prewashed my fabric, totally washable for when I inevitably drag a sleeve into something sticky.
Layer 3. Overgown and Hood. French Overgown 1540s. A noble woman of France, inspired by Diane de Poitiers (one of my favorite period people) and Catherine de’ Medici. Here is where it really gets fun. I found this fabric years ago and it has been in my stash awaiting something exactly like this to prompt me to actually make the gown. I have drafted the pattern from looking at assorted portraits from France between 1530 and 1550 as well as consulting the Tudor Tailor for any insights that they may have into construction, because a painting only tells you so much. This was great build and true to period practice, there is a bit of piecing on the skirt panels but it is practically invisible. I have made the gown without a train. While trained gowns are certainly beautiful, not so helpful at events. The bodice closes with under laced forebodies to hold it together and a placard to cover the front, making the closures very much hidden. For this particular project, I have made the over sleeves to lace in as I would like to be able to swap an alternate pair of fur lined sleeves in sometimes. The French Hood was a fun piece to build adn I will likely be making few more of these in the future. The discovery that floral wire really isn’t as sturdy as one might like is a good insight going forward, a double row or heavier gage would have helped a lot. A relatively straight forward pattern, as I have made other versions before, this one was extra fun because I got to use a bunch of small silk scraps that have been languishing in my stash for quite some time now. One is not fully dressed without a hat and this one is a great final piece.
Who doesn’t love a good meal! I decided that dinner would be a great final non sewing layer. So I did some digging and decided on a four course dinner if French and Italian dishes. A meal with a starter of sweet stewed figs, which are suggested as a dish for the beginning of the meal, but I think they are actually perfect over the torte bianca at the end. The funniest thing about this dish is when chilled they get very squeaky when you eat them. Like sneakers on a gym floor. Number two is a vegetable dish of cabbage with fennel and onions. I like this dish as it is not far from how I like to cook cabbage on the regular and is a nice salty compliment to the sweet chicken dish. Third comes a capon in orange sauce. This is a very sweet chicken dish and I have taken the liberty of modifying the rice dish to better work with the chicken. I used a whole chicken that I cut up myself and decided to remove the skin, since the idea of braised chicken skin did not sound even slightly appealing. The gentle stewing made for a really delicious and tender chicken. Fourth is the saffron rice is originally to be cooked into something more like a porridge. But I have chosen to make it with less broth than the original to make a fluffy rice, perfect for soaking up the orange sauce of the chicken. I got very lucky this fall to find saffron crocus bulbs at the local Lowes, so of course I bought a bunch and planted them. I got a fair amount of saffron from them this year and hope for more next year. The final dish is torte bianca, a ginger cheese pie. This was one of the first recipes I came across early in my SCA journey and I’m glad to finally have a reason to make it. Gingery, not too sweet, and the paest royall is an excellent crust with a texture a bit like shortbread. And I will be eating this for breakfast for the next several days because it is the size of a modern pie. Of course had I given more thought to the timing, like not finishing layer four before layer three was done, the pictures would have been better.
(Admin note: More information about this layer in the document at the bottom of the page)