Category Archives: Italian

Apprenticeship Ceremony

On January 25th, 2014, at Market Day at Birka in Manchester, NH, I became apprenticed to Mistress Vienna de la Mer. Below are pictures of the event, taken by Cateline la Broderesse.

The Shot Taffetta Sottana – FINISHED!!!

It’s done! Well, mostly. I finished the shot taffeta sottana to the point of wearable for East Kingdom’s 12th Night event. It looked great and I received many compliments, but my Laurel has not seen it in action yet, so I will be wearing it at Birka, a big event at the end of the month, where we will formally enter an apprenticeship-Laurel relationship. By then, I have to finish one sleeve cap, which I worked on last night and is nearly finished, and sew another row of velvet ribbon to the hem. The trim is all hand sewn (the gown uses some machine sewing, where it is hidden from sight), and I was only able to sew down one ribbon of 6 yards, by hand, in time for 12th Night.

This dress will also be entered into our King and Queen’s Arts & Sciences competition in February. I will post my documentation following the event, as well as the results of my entry.

original sleeve trim

The original plan for the sleeve trim… I ended up doing only three lines, because the 5 would have looked weird on the underside.

finish sleeve

One finished sleeve & sleeve cap

unhemmed gown

Unhemmed gown without the bottom trim

finished gown

Finished gown at 12th Night

12th night gown

Gown at 12th Night

gown back

And a nice shot of the cartridge pleating in the back

You may also notice in the above photos that I am wearing the whiteworked partlet that I started over a year ago. It is unfinished, but I hope to complete that, also, by K&Q A&S.

A Fur-Lined Muff

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I have completed an embroidered and fur lined muff. My inspiration for a muff comes from Venice, Italy, 1590. Cesare Vecellio’s woodcuts include a Venetian noblewoman in winter dress holding a muff. “Clothing of the Renaissance World” by Jones and Rosenthal contains a translation of his description, indicating that the noblewomen wore a fur-lined muff to keep their hands warm. They were frequently made of black velvet or silk with marten or sable lining and closed with buttons of crystal or gold.

From the description and image above, we can discern that the Venetian muff was not sewn in a closed tube, but rather a flat envelope with button closure. This is how I chose to make my muff. I started with a piece of grey wool-like polyester, cut large enough to fit both of my hands comfortably inside. I stitched down the gold trim and embroidered my SCA badge. This is my first time doing free embroidery, so the tree is a satin stitch and the monogram is a back stitch.

After I completed the embroidery, I cut a layer of cotton batting to give the muff some fluff and then I cut my fur, a brown faux mink that is super soft and not at all like most faux furs. The fur was cut an inch and a half bigger than the wool. I then folded the edges of the fur over the wool layer and whipstitched it down. I then sewed the buttons on the front (embroidered) side of the envelope.

Lastly, I fingerloop braided some perle cotton and sewed the loop onto the opposite edge of the muff. Finished and warm!

Shot Taffeta Sottana, update

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My new sottana is well on it’s way. The bodice is complete, the skirt is complete and it is currently partially attached. I’ve started the trim, but I have a long way to go there. I compromised and used the machine for much of this dress, with an attempt to hide all machine stitching. Several parts of the bodice had to be finished by hand because of the curves and corners, etc, but it looks good and I don’t *think* it looks overtly machine sewn.


I had to piece a small insertion into the shoulder strap as it was sitting a touch too high overall, then I moved on to the skirt.

Cartridge pleated back

Cartridge pleated back

Pleats stitched to bodice

Pleats stitched to bodice

Exterior view of pleats

Exterior view of pleats

Orange Linen Sottana

I never did post an update on how my orange sottana turned out. I have worn it to two events and am generally happy with it.


The sleeves don’t puff like they should, I get a little bit of a wrinkle at the waist, though my velvet stays helped flatten the front. The hem is still safety pinned, I’ll finish it someday. I felt beautiful and looked like a 1560’s Florentine lady.

Shot Taffeta Sottana

I am beginning the planning for my second sottana. I received feedback on my orange sottana to go for more luxury feeling fabrics if I want more upper class garments. Another judge recommended making another sottana to improve on the techniques learned with the orange sottana. Lastly, someone mentioned that it’s easier to get a feel for how close my dress is with a specific inspiration picture. So, I think I’m going to go with the below picture by Cristofano dell’Altissimo. The second picture from Giovanni Battista shows a shot silk similar to the one I have on hand and will be using for this sottana, however, the portrait is not Florentine so I will not be using it for the primary inspiration, rather as evidence of two tone fabric.

Clarice Ridolfi Altoviti

1500s Cristofano dell’Altissimo – Clarice Ridolfi Altovit (Moda)

Giovanni Batista Moroni Lady in Red

1557-1560 Giovanni Batista Moroni – Lady in Red

UPDATE: The inspiration picture was later changed to Agnolo Bronzino’s Portrait of a Lady (1550), because I liked the velvet ribbon against the taffeta!

1550 Lady Bronzino

Agnolo Bronzino, Portrait of a Lady, 1550

Properties of Fabric

For my next project, I’m going to make new stockings. My previous pair were made of cotton and stayed wet on rainy days. So I’m doing some research on fabric properties to compare the best possibilities for my new stockings. Below are short summaries of a few types of fabrics, both natural and man made.

Cotton is a natural plant fiber that is strong wet and dry. Cotton absorbs moisture.

Wool is a natural fiber from sheep that is warm and insulating but weak. Wool is elastic and highly absorbent, which causes it to dry slowly.

Silk is a natural fiber from silk worms that is strong dry and weak wet.

Linen is a natural plant fiber that is strong wet and dry. It is highly absorbent and dries quickly. Air is able to pass through linen fabric making it cool and comfortable.

Polyester is a man made fiber that is strong wet and dry. It is non-absorbent but dries quickly and may feel hot and clammy.

Nylon is a man made fiber that is strong dry but weaker wet. It is not very absorbent and may feel hot and clammy, but it is quick drying.

Rayon is a man made fiber from trees that is moderately strong, but weaker wet. It is very absorbent.

Tyvek/Olefin is a man made fiber used in activewear, linings and wicks water away, drying quickly.

Ingeo is a man made fiber that is typically blended with cotton or wool. It is water resistant and wicks away water.

Bamboo is a natural fiber that is light and strong with moisture wicking abilities.

Acrylic is a man made fiber that is light weight and warm. It is moisture wicking and quick drying.