Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Italian Renaissance Gown

I guess I should start posting up some of the finished stuff in my costume closet...

I made my Italian Renaissance Gown back in '07 when I needed a court gown for SCA. I love the Italian Renaissance style mostly because of the movie Ever After, and because the style lines are very flattering on my skinny figure. The patterning was fairly easy too. My main inspiration for style was based on a portrait called Birth Of Mary (this is a detail shot), of the woman in the orange gown.

And I decided to do a giornea (sideless kinda overcoat) in this picture with the dagging, the pink thing this woman is wearing:

I started with two fabrics I found at JoAnn's in the Home Dec section.

They were both coordinating fabrics, the main dress fabric is some kind of poly/cotton, and I thought the embroidery was fitting. The other is a tapestry for my Giornea. First, I got some white linen... it was the lightest weight linen I could find, but it still seemed rather heavy. I used the instructions from this site to contruct my chemise.

The dress itself was fairly simple to contruct, the bodice you basically only had to worry about underbust measurement and the opening shape. There's a sort of ladder-lacing effect, so there are pairs of eyelets down the front, most of which I stitched over to look hand-stitched (I didn't finish, admittedly). The skirt I had to pattern to have a huge train but keep the diamond pattern, so it ended up being a big "U" shape. Here's a few in-progress shots:

The sleeves were interesting to pattern, the biggest problem I had (and wasn't able to fix) is that I can't raise my arms very high in this, but it could just be that dresses back then weren't meant to be moved around in much. It laces up the back. In the end, I had to stitch the chemise to the dress to get it to lay where I wanted it, and the fabric to pull out how I wanted. I also inserted a panel into the front instead of the split skirt because a Costume Nazi at SCA made me doubt what I was doing (I shouldn't have let her get to me, she was sporting a buzz cut and wearing a poorly made tunic out of sea-foam cotton! Expert, indeed...) The Giornia was also simple to pattern, but the dagging was tedious. I cut leaf shapes into the back sides, then had to maneuver this huge tapestry through my machine, satin stitching around curves. It's not evident in the paintings, but I added ties under the arms to control it all.

For the hair, I styled it off of the first painting, there's a barely visible hairpiece. Using netting and trim, I made a cap and attached hair to it. I need to redo this at some point.

So all in all, this is the result! I need to find shoes and redo the hairpiece at some point. Cut off my head in the second shot because I hated it. Bah!


  1. This is so lovely! Very simple and realistic.

  2. This is beautiful! I have wanted to recreate the very same dress for years! Excellent job.

  3. It is soooo beautiful!
    Love the hair (:

  4. You look amazing! I wanted to do a dress like this one since I started The Borgias... It has been quite a long time since you posted this article, so I was wondering, did you ever do the shoes you were talking about?
    Anyway, love love love the dress !

  5. It's so lovely. And Ever After is one of my favorite movies. How many yards of fabric did you use for the dress?