Tag Archives: Florentine

Revitalizing My Garb

It’s been a long summer battling depression and anxiety, but I have my mojo back! This week, I’ve gone crazy working to revitalize my garb for St. Eligius. It all started when I had to borrow the earring loops from my pearls for a vintage outfit. Then I had to look at paintings to decide on a new earring loop to mount the pearls on. This got me thinking about all sorts of accessories until my brain was ready to burst. I made a few trips to the crafts stores to find all the parts for my vision, but found all the things I wanted…but in silver, not gold. Cue the spray paint!

Gild all the things!

I removed the center of the medallion and pearls before spray painting, then used a wooden circle thingie to fill in the hole. I secured the wooden circle with glue and white fabric puff paint, then gilded the medallion again.

Making the medallion

I glued pearls back in the orignal spots, then added a ring of pearls over the puff paint. More puff paint was used to paint the center of the medallion.

Pearled and initial painting

I couldn’t leave well enough alone, so I added more pearls around the outer perimeter.

More pearls!

After the paint dried, I added another coat for more puff, and filled in the background. Two or three more coats later, it’s finished.

Finished medallion

Finished chain and hair ornament

The hair ornament was made at the same time and features pearlescent nail polish over white puff paint for the giant pearl look. These will be worn along with my usual necklace and earrings. I replaced the medallion on the necklace with an oblong pearl, and added decorative eyepins and bead caps to my pearls before threading them onto these earring loops. The earring loops were inspired by the painting below.

Necklace and Earrings

Jacopo Zucchi, Portrait of a Lady, 1560s, Indianapolis Museum of Art

After I finished all the jewelry modifications, I decided to dye a length of white silk habotai for a gold veil. The first attempt was too yellow. I added some orange and then it was too orange. I used color remover and the new veil was again too yellow. I threw a lighter gold silk chiffon veil into the dye bath and that one came out perfect!

Veils next to gold cord embellishment

The chiffon veil was washed and hung to dry, while I gave the habotai veil another dye bath. This time, it came out close to perfect. Again, I couldn’t leave well enough alone, so I decided to add lace to the edges before sewing a comb onto the back to attach to my hair.

Finished veil

In addition to all this, I also sewed some new lacing rings onto my gown to tie the sleeves to, and repaired my petticoat hem. Hopefully the final look is as impactful as I envision it.

Flocked Linen Sottana

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The Modern Maker 2 was released  at the beginning of March. I couldn’t possibly wait for my hard copy, so I bought the e-copy and immediately began drafting a new bodice according to the instructions. I decided it was time to use my properly aged flocked linen fabric for this new project. The fit turned out great – the best fitting sottana I’ve made to date. I look forward to making more garments with this book!


Pink Cotton Sottana

From April to June 2017, I participated in the 7th Annual Italian Renaissance Costuming Challenge, hosted by The Realm of Venus, one of the best Italian costuming resources on the web. My entries and the results can be found at the link above, but for reference, here’s photos from about the competition and the outfit I made. The competition required monthly progress updates, as well as a final update with the results of your entry.

I made a pair of white linen drawers based on the bara system and completely hand sewn. I wove the ties (my first weaving!) and flat felled the seams (also a first!).

Bara Tape

Drawers in progress

Finished drawers

The bodice is also based on the bara system, where I tried my best to interpret The Modern Maker‘s notes and drawings to design a bodice that fit well. I’m reasonably satisfied with the attempt, but it could be better.

Toile front

Toile back

Toile side

The bodice interlining was made up of a layer of cotton duck and heavy weight muslin, which was roll-pinned, then stitched together. The fashion fabric was basted to the outside, then folded inwards and stitched in place with a running stitch.

Close up of basting

Exterior sewn to interlining

The lining was basted, then the edges turned in and blind stitched in place. The bottom edge was left open to put in the hide glue “cardboard” insert.

Lining shoulder seam

Bodice front

Bodice back

Hide glue “cardboard”

Wool-covered “cardboard”

The skirt was gathered and attached, but there are no exciting pictures of the process. I also made an over skirt from some random polyester satin I had laying around. I made a pair of orange pockets lined in cashmere, also from stash fabric. The cashmere lining was the only fabric that looked good with the orange, but turns out to be a great place to warm my hands on cold days. Lastly, I threw together a pair of sleeves, with the intention of re-doing them later with proper trim additions.

Assembled gown

Over skirt

Pockets front

Pockets back


Pocket close-up

Pocket close-up

Sleeve interior

Sleeve exterior

The gown ended up being way too long, but I later added a tuck so I could wear it. We took quick pictures for the competition end at an event where it was bloody hot and sunny and I was quick to divest myself of this many layers. Later, we took a posed picture, but I forgot to iron the over skirt!

Gown front

Gown side

Gown back

Gown other side

Over skirt front

Over skirt back

Final photo

My Facebook Albums Made Public

Hello out there! I am very, very bad at keeping this blog up to date, especially when it comes to posting construction details after the fact. However, I have just made all of my Facebook albums public so anyone can view them.

I also sorted through my sottane photos, and realized I have only made 8 sottane, including the Golden Seamstress group project. Wow, it feels like so many more.

Here are the albums of my sottane, in order of construction:

#1 Orange Linen Sottana
#2 Red Shot Sottana
#3 Orange Silk Sottana
#4 Yellow & Black Sottana
#5 Teal Sottana
#6 Cheryl’s Red Sottana
#7 Golden Seamstress Sottana
#8 Pink Cottom Sottana

Other noteworthy albums include:

Construction Techniques

Golden Seamstress Challenge, April 2017

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In February, a local SCA group hosted an event called the Golden Seamstress Challenge. The challenge was to create a full outfit, skin to shell, in about 20 hours. I had a crazy idea and recruited other seamstresses enter this competition with ONLY HAND STITCHING. Machine sewing was totally allowed. I wanted to see if we could do it. WE DID.

We had a couple spots that weren’t properly sewn, and some touchups had to be made after the fact due to time running short, but we made an insertion work camicia, couched sleeves, and a full Florentine sottana in that amount of time. Drawers were made in advance, according to the challenge rules. Alas, we did not quite complete the challenge, as we did not have enough time for the petticoat. Nonetheless, I was amazed that we did so much in the time we had.

We had 6 team members: Condêssa Violante do Porto, THL Kataryn Mercer, Lady Katla of Viborg, Lady Olivia Baker, Ástríðr Músi, and Lady Cecelie Vogelgesangkin. (My pardons if any titles are incorrect, I was going by memory).

Violante sewed about 30 feet of insertion work on the camicia. That’s almost 10 yards, with stitches about an 1/8″ apart. It’s freaking amazing.

The bodice was a combined effort between myself and Olivia. Olivia was very quick to learn and follow the techniques that I briefly showed her, while we each worked on one side of the bodice. Then, while I was resting, she was able to finish the entire bodice!

Cecelie did ALL of the cutting of the bits and bobs. That means she cut all of the hem facing, trim and padding, stitched it all into strip, pressed each into shape and had it ready and waiting. This was a huge huge help, because it was yards upon yards of work and she did it all with a smile on her face.

The sleeves are white silk with couched gold cord, done by Olivia and Cecelie. They couched the rows of cord, finished the hem and wrists, and stitched the sleeves together (after all the other work they’d already done).

The skirt was a LOT of work, ably taken on by Katla and Ástríðr. The two of them chatted and cut, cut and sewed, and sewed some more. They cut out the sottana skirt panels, then stitched them all together, then stitched the trim, then stitched the hem, THEN stitched the facing. If these two hadn’t been so diligent and fast, we never would have finished. I can’t calculate how many yards of stitching they did, but it’s a lot.

Here are some pictures from the event. I will be adding more of the finished products.

Planning Drawings



A Tutorial on “Perfect” Eyelets

There are plenty of tutorials out there already, but it has taken me years of trial and error before I have achieved a “perfect” eyelet. The appearance of the eyelets are consistent, round, and non-fraying.

Summary: My process for each eyelet involves marking all of my eyelets with a dot, then tracing a ring, and backstitching over the tracing to define the shape. I use a series of awls to open the hole. The lacing ring is held to the backside of the eyelet, then stitched over in a specific pattern to create a nice round eyelet. After about 50 or so eyelets, I have the time down to 5 minutes per eyelet.

Materials: Patterns of Fashion (1560 – 1620) indicates that Cosimo de’Medici’s burial garments contained eyelets worked over a copper ring (p. 56). The image below, from Archivio Medici, appears to be of Cosimo’s codpiece, where it attaches to the trunk hose. The metal rings on the back side of the eyelets are clearly visible, though in other images the stitches of the eyelet remain.

I use 10 mm metal lacing rings from The Bad Baroness. These are soldered closed, unlike split rings, which can cut into your eyelet thread and weaken your eyelet.

I have had great results sewing eyelets using 2 strands of cotton embroidery floss (used in tutorial), as well 1 strand of Trebizond silk (see orange eyelets above).



Note: I assume you have already marked the desired locations of your eyelets at this point.

Step one: trace the lacing ring onto your fabric. I use a Frixion pen by Pilot. The ink disappears when ironed, and does not bleed into my silks.

Step two: backstitch directly on the tracing, trying to keep your stitches an even length. My stitches tend to be about 1/8″ more or less by eyeball. If your eyeball isn’t that consistent, try marking your desired stitch length on your finger with a pen as a guide.

Step three: open the hole on the dot. I use a series of three awls (shown below): the fine, sharp one to create the hole (local vendor), the green Dritz awl (craft store) to start the enlargement, then the hand tool awl (from the home improvement store) to reach the final diameter. The base of the last awl is 1/4″, the desired inner diameter of my eyelets. Smaller eyelets can be difficult to insert an aglet through.

Step four: apply lacing ring to back of eyelet, stitch through previous holes. After the backstitches, your needle and thread should be behind the eyelet. Bring your thread over the ring, through the center of the eyelet to the front, then down through one of the previous stitch holes. Repeat. Gently widen eyelet with awl as needed to keep the hole and ring centered.

Ensure thread wraps around ring on each pass from back to front.

Insert needle into hole from previous backstitches. Repeat.

Step five: stitch around eyelet again, inserting needle in the center of the previous backstitches. You are splitting the difference between each wrap you have previously made.

Insert needle into the center of each backstitch. Repeat.

With this method, you will circle your eyelet twice, which will help keep the eyelet even. You can tie off your thread or carry it between eyelets, similar to the below image of Cosimo’s doublet.

Glue-styling a Wig

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Here’s my dirty little secret: I wear a wig.

I guess it’s not realty dirty or secret because I love telling people how wonderful it is to just take the wig off at the end of an event, rather than brushing out and restyling your own hair. I fully advocate the use of wigs!

In the SCA, if you wear the same style of dress frequently, a wig is much easier to throw on, and the style can be more effective with the boost of fake hair. I have short hair, which is why I choose to wear a wig for mid-16th C Italian, but even if I had butt length hair, I could never achieve the same impact with my real hair without hours of work and the addition of fake wefts anyway. There simply isn’t enough volume.

Today, I restyled my wig. It’s the same Italian style, but there were too many loose hairs and I dropped it in the mud while unpacking from my last event. Overall, the style held up very well and I’ll tell you my real secret: washable Elmer’s school glue.

I styled this wig, according to a Facebook post, in mid-January. Many of my friends were aghast that I chose to use glue to style my wig because it would not wash out, but I felt comfortable with my decision. If the glue stayed for 6 months, but ruined the wig in the end, I was comfortable that I had gotten more than my $50 worth for over a year of use total. Hair gel and hair spray simply did not last long enough.

I wore this wig to 8 events without touch ups and the glue washed completely out (even better than the gel and hair spray residue). I intended to wait until after Pennsic to restyle it, but the mud caused me to redo it sooner.

Here’s the first and last wearing of this wig styled with glue. You can see the wispies in the second picture, but they weren’t too bad.



If you decide to give this a try, here’s how I did it this time:

After your wig is clean, dry, and combed, and you’re sure you’re willing to risk ruining your wig, do this: I poured about half a bottle of Elmer’s glue into a bowl half-filled with warm water and stirred. I dipped my hands into the bowl and ran them over the wig, wetting the wig. I could feel and smell the glue on my hands, but it was thin and watery, like I wanted it. I styled the wig as desired, continuing to wet it with my hands. After it was finished, I smoothed the hair with more wet hands, and dumped the remained into a spray bottle and spritzed the wig. I wanted extra security since I had diluted the glue. I’m not sure I didn’t dilute it too much, I may have to touch it up with a less watery spritz. DO NOT leave the glue mixture in your spray bottle. It will clog.