Category Archives: 16th Century

Florentine Partlet

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I decided to make a new partlet with the handkerchief weight linen I purchased recently. This was my second foray into using this fabric, the first being a little handkerchief. Searching for inspiration, I found a portrait of a Florentine Noblewoman located at the San Diego Muesum of Art. The style was perfect for the pattern I have, Margo Anderson’s free partlet pattern, and I wanted to try out the whitework embroidery.

Florentine Noblewoman

Florentine Noblewoman

I handstitched the partlet, using polyester thread (oh my!) because that’s all I owned. I have since remedied the thread situation for my next project. I followed the instructions of this GREAT tutorial on sewing a rolled hem and successfully hemmed the edges of the partlet. I then used a french seam for the shoulder seam, gathered the ruffle and put the collar together, all according to Margo’s instructions. My first trial showed that the partlet did not sit open as in the above portrait, so I cut off an inch from the front opening and re-hemmed those sides. A slight adjustment to the shoulder seam angle and I had the look I wanted.

I reached out to my teacher, Vienna de la Mer, for help with the embroidery pattern. She drafted a simple pattern similar to the inspiration portrait for my first embroidery project. For the past two days, I have been hard at work on the embroidery and have completed almost TWO lines of the many, many lines required.

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


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In my idle viewing of other crafter’s awesomeness, I decided it was time to make my zibellino. I bought two weasel furs off of etsy for $20, used some sculpey I had on hand and a bunch of crystals and voila!

In order to shape the head, I wrapped plastic wrap around the head of the weasel, then tightly wrapped a layer or two of masking tape. I then added sculpey clay directly over the :mask” and molded the basic shape. A cooking in the oven hardened the clay (and melted the plastic wrap). I then pulled the masking tape and melted plastic out of the sculpey shell. At this point, I had a head that fits over the head of my weasel and a base to shape and design the head with. I added more sculpey and added some features, including the bridge of the snout and the ears. I picked up a bunch of swarovski crystals and beads and bejeweled the heck out of the head using Quickhold craft glue.The head is glued permanently in place on the fur.

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.

Homemade Glue Update

Last weekend I tested out a couple of the glue recipes I had found. Trial number one from with water, corn syrup, vinegar and cornstarch came out very thick and globby and ultimately not usable for this project..

Trial number two from consisted of water, flour and sugar. This also seemed too thick, but spread in a thin smooth layer. A test run made the silk spotty, so I dampened the silk and applied the glue to the cotton duck and the cotton duck to the silk while it was still damp. This solved the problem of “watermarks”, but required a long dry time. In the end, the silk stuck to the glued duck giving me a non-slippery, stiff piece of fabric to work with. I really liked not fighting with the slip-slidey fabric and will use this method in the future for silky fabrics. I intend on washing the corset one last time and I suspect the glue will wash away and leave only the stitching to hold everything together.

Rubber Cement and Glue

I came across an article yesterday regarding rubber cement and corsetry on I was intrigued by this idea and could immediately see the benefit of gluing your pieces together prior to stitching. This was a particularly nice idea while my fingers are in the healing stages after padstitching multiple layers for my unboned velvet stays a la Eleonora di Toledo. Another of my many projects in the works is a Tudor corset, which I am machine sewing (my fingers are happy). I had Simplicity 2621 from my (technically unfinished) farthinggale project and I made a size 12 mockup rather quickly. With some modifications for back AND front lacing and boned tabs, it fit pretty well right away. Instead of padstitching, I am going to try the above mentioned rubber cement method to layer my fabric, buckram, cotton duck interlining, and cotton lining.

However, rubber cement is not the most period option, which led to me googling potato starch glues. While I didn’t find a whole lot of renaissance glue recipes (I did not search anywhere near hard enough), I did find a good selection of food based glues that I now want to try, especially since I don’t have rubber cement handy.

Grate a peeled potato in a bowl and add three spoons of water. After a few minutes, you can press it with a spoon so the potato starch is on the spoon. Then heat four spoons of the potato starch with four spoons of water until the mass thickens – but don’t let it cook! The potato glue dries yellowish and is suitable for paper works.

3/4 cup water
2 tablespoons corn syrup
1 teaspoons white vinegar
1/2 cup cornstarch
3/4 cup cold water

Mix water, syrup and vinegar in small saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil. In small bowl, mix cornstarch and cold water. Add this mixture slowly to first mixture. Stir constantly. Let stand overnight before using.

Powdered milk – 2 tablespoons
Hot tap water – 1/4 cup
Vinegar – 1 tablespoons
Baking Soda – 1/2 teaspoon

Mix powdered milk and some of the hot tap water (depending on the quantity of powdered milk used) and stir it well.
Add vinegar to milk. Milk will separate into solid yogurt and liquid whey. Stir till all the milk has separated completely.

Strain away the whey. Secure a paper towel with rubber band over the mouth of a large cup. Put the yogurt in it. Place another piece of paper towel on the yogurt and press it firmly so that, almost all of whey drains out from the yogurt.

Put the yogurt in a separate cup and break it into smaller lumps.

Add 1 teaspoon of hot water and ¼ teaspoon of baking soda. Some foaming may occur because the reaction of baking soda and vinegar releases carbon dioxide.

Stir the glue till it has an even consistency. Add water if it is too thick. If it is too lumpy add more baking soda.

Refrigerate it when not in use. Discard it when it starts smelling like spoiled milk.

1 cup boiling water
3 tablespoons white flour
4 tablespoons cold water
1 tablespoon sugar

1. Put boiling water in a pot.
2. Mix flour and cold water well. Use a whisk to get rid of any clumps.
3. Slowly pour the flour mixture into the hot water, mixing the whole time.
4. Turn on fire under the pot and heat until mixture thickens. Mix constantly. This should take only a minute or two.
5. Once thick, turn off fire and mix in sugar.
6. Transfer to a container for storage, and then put in the refrigerator.
7. Once cool, use as you would any other glue.

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.