Advanced · Historic Advanced · Historically Focused

Gianna Viviani

Location: Oakheart, Calontir

Category/Level: Historically Focused/Advanced

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.

Final Photos

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.

Layer 1

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.

Layer 2

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.

Layer 3

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.

Layer 4

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.

Bonus Points