The gamurra is a basic, unlined dress worn by women of all classes in the 1400s (Frick 309). Prior to mid-15th century, the gamurra was frequently worn alone, however after the 1450s, the gamurra was typically covered by a cioppa or giornea, when departing the home and on formal occasions.
Cioppa is a general word for an overdress in Florence, Italy (Frick 306). Typically, the cioppa is considered to be a very full overdress with a deep V neckline. However, the young girl’s overdress in “Resurrection of the Boy” is best described as a cioppa, or cioppettina.
I began this project in July 2014, after being fitted for the bodice during Pennsic that month. Upon returning home, I jumped right into this project, mocking up the bodice and trueing the pattern.
The project was to recreate the red/blue outfit in Domenico Ghirlandaio’s painting, “Resurrection of the Boy”, 1482-1485.
I was inspired by the blue cioppa because it is different from most overgowns seen during this period. My interest was further piqued when I could not find any other examples of attempts to recreate this outfit, or a similarly styled cioppa.
A year or more ago, I purchased a periwinkle blue linen with intentions of making this gown. I’ve since learned that a noblewoman’s gown such as this would typically be made of silk, but I already had the fabric, so I went ahead with my plan.
I cut the bodice pattern out of the blue linen and thus began my project. I realized that I technically had a gamurra pattern with a center opening for lacing, not a closed front bodice for the cioppa. I decided to stitch the center seam closed, rather than wait for a rare chance to have another fitting with my friend, which could be months.
I cut an interlining from cotton duck, and laid it on top of my shell fabric. Then I folded the seam allowance of the shell over the interlining and whipstitched the shell to the interlining. I repeated this process with the lining and then whipstitched the two together at all edges.
When the bodice was all stitched together, I hand sewed eyelets along the side-back seams using DMC floss in a close match for color.
Sometimes, instead of working on the bodice, I switched to making a partlet out of fine handkerchief weight linen. I used the partlet pattern included in Margo Anderson’s Italian Ladies’ Underpinnings, without a shoulder seam. This was a quick little project.
After I finished the cioppa bodice, I began the gamurra bodice, which I should have done first, then fitted the cioppa over the gamurra. Hindsight. The gamurra is center front opening, so I stitched the side back seams, then did the same thing with the interlining for the shell and lining.
Next, I picked out some nice round rings from the beading section of the craft store to use as lacing rings for the front of the gamurra, as seen in “A Young Woman” by Ghirlandaio, c. 1485.
Then I sewed them on.
After the lacing rings were finished, I did a test fit on myself and my dummy before beginning my sleeves.
To draft my sleeve pattern, I used The Curious Frau’s instructions, which were precise and easy to use. Once I had a mockup, I cut away the bottom edge until it looked like the painting, and attached some cord to test the appearance. After I had what I wanted, I cut my red(ish) linen to the pattern and hand sewed a French seam to close the sleeve.
I use French seams so that there I have no problems with fraying. I have not researched the historical accuracy of its usage, and don’t intend to. This is my buy for modern convenience of the washing machine.
Anyway, I roll hemmed all the edges of the wrist opening and shoulder, then whipstitched the sleeve to the armscye with tiny stitches. The sleeve is stronger than I expected, but the stitches are very small and close together, so it’s in place securely.
The lacings across the sleeve are made of lucet cord, as well as all of the lacings for the gamurra and cioppa. I used #3 DMC perle cotton that I had handy.
While working on the sleeves, I noticed that my newly finished 16th century camicia’s sleeves were too voluminous for this outfit. That lead to hand sewing a new camicia out of handkerchief weight linen, before I could move on in the sleeve department.
At this point, the cords were such a pain in my fingers to stitch down that I moved on to something totally different and didn’t finish the second sleeve until the night before the debut event, St Eligius.
(Continued in Part 2)
Brown, David Alan. Virtue and Beauty: Leonardo’s Ginevra De’ Benci and Renaissance Portraits of Women;. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 2001. Print.
Frick, Carole Collier. Dressing Renaissance Florence: Families, Fortunes, & Fine Clothing. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 2002. Print.
Herald, Jacqueline. Renaissance Dress in Italy 1400-1500. London: Bell & Hyman, 1981. Print.