This year I decided to enter the Italian Renaissance Costuming Challenge hosted by the Realm of Venus site. In this challenge, sewers create an entire outfit (three layers and accessories) appropriate to Renaissance Italy in 4 months. Extensive handwork such as embroidery is allowed to be started early, but otherwise all cutting and sewing is to be done from April 1st to July 31st. I thought about entering it last year, but I needed my outfit that I was making for my friend’s wedding to be completed in April, so that didn’t really work with the timeline of the competition. I don’t really expect to win in any of the categories, but I like having the structure and deadlines to keep me working on this project.
The outfit I am working on is a 1480s-90s northern Italian style outfit, loosely inspired by the artwork of Ghirlandaio and Botticelli but not referencing a specific painting. I think of this particular style as more associated with Florence but it shows up elsewhere as well. I will be making a camisa (shift), gamurra (gown), and giornea (sleeveless overgown). On the portrait above, the camisa is the white layer peaking out in places. The gamurra is the red/black layer. My sleeves will not be quite like those in this portrait as I am opting for a slightly simpler style, although I plan to use the diagonal trim decorating idea. The giornea is the gold brocade layer. For my accessories I will be making jewelry, and if I have time possibly a hat, pocket or belt.
Most of the materials for this outfit were bought 2-3 years ago and then left behind in favor of some other projects. My goal was to make an outfit in this style in my heraldic colors of blue and silver. They are not the most historically accurate in terms of fiber but are what I could afford and find at the time that worked in terms of look and pattern. The aqua/jade linen in the top middle is the fabric for the gamurra, it is woven with blue threads one way and white the other, like a shot silk. The plain jade linen below it will be the lining of the bodice and sleeves of the gamurra.
There are two white linens pictured. The larger volume is for the camisa and the smaller is a piece of Irish linen that is intended for the cap if I get to it. The off-white fabric is cotton broadcloth for interlining the bodice of the gamurra. The silvery cotton damask fabric is for the giornea.
The competition officially started April 1, although we were able to plan and buy materials before that. Each month we send in updates on what we have accomplished. You can go to my page in the competition to read my progress reports as they come in.