Italian Renaissance Camicia

I try to challenge myself with new sewing techniques each time I delve into a project: I have this perception that continually challenging myself is the only way I'll learn. So, after looking at a plethora of images online, I decided to make myself an Italian Renaissance Camicia that was cartridge pleated all along the neckline and sleeve cuffs.

But let's be honest, the real reason I made an Italian Renaissance Camicia is because I had the perfect fabric!

My mom keeps any old, ripped, faded, or stretched out sheets to use as dropcloths when we paint the house or engage in some other DIY home project. Her and I were going through one stash of deliciously tacky 90's sheets when I came across a LOVELY white cotton box sheet that had lost its elastic. The fabric was incredible, not worn, but soft, and with a slight sheer quality to it; the material perfectly resembled a quality cotton viole! How could I resist? I knew that I wanted to make something that I would wear close to my body, but that I could still make very pretty and feminine. And since I had plans to make an Italian Renaissance dress in the future, why not start with a camicia?

I used Anea's wonderful costume site for research. I also used Diary of a Renaissance Seamstress's Camicia tutorial. I was going for a camicia similar to the ones in these paintings:

Tiziano Vecellio, Woman with a Mirror, 1513-15 -- I wanted a neckline similar to this, but I didn't want big open sleeves.
Palma Vecchio, A Sybil, 1520 -- Very interesting shoulder drawstring closure.
Not sure who painted this, but i wanted the sleeves pleated into cuffs like this.
Palma Vecchio, A Blonde Woman, 1520 -- This painting was my justification for using the selvages of the dark blue fabric for the sleeve cuff ties.
I started this Camicia last October. I was already a bit behind schedule, and then with hurricane Sandy knocking out our power for a few days I realized there was no way/point to finish this for Halloween. However, cartridge pleating is a very appropriate task to do sans electricity. I finished it last year but postponed posting about it until now!

The neckline is cartridge pleated, bound in homemade bias tape. The sleeves are cartridge pleated into the cuffs. The cuffs tie with the selvedges from the fabric of the 1530's dress, and the cuffs are finished with a pleated ruffle. Honestly, I need to redo these cuffs: after the fine handsewing of the cartridge pleats, the machine-sewn cuffs are just bulky and awkward, and the ruffle is too much. I'm thinking of replacing the tie cuff with some of the bias binding threaded with a thinner ribbon, and altering the ruffles so that they can be basted on.

One of my favorite things about the Camicia is how it drapes over my chest. In this photo, I'm wearing it over a soft-cup strapless, wireless bra for modesty.
Not perfect, but suitable for a first try.

I ended up making the Camicia a bit longer than I planned to, but it works!
That perfectly lovely hem is from the sheet!

UGH look how chunky that is! Handsewn bias binding would look soo much better with the cartridge pleats!
Look at all that bulk within the seam! No, no, no!

Popular Posts