This was by far the longest portion of my time spent on the project.
Totaling about 60 hours of work, almost all of it by hand. I'm proud of what I was able to turn out in suck s short period of time, but there are a ton of things i need to fix and add for me to feel comfortable wearing it for event.
1. the sleeves are slightly too wide, and very much too long. Since I haven't lined them- to do future embroidery, it shouldn't be too hard to make these adjustments, just a lot more hand sewing.
2. I need to add embroidery to the sleeves, and trim- probably velvet- to the bodice and maybe skirt. It's a beautiful silk, but the painting looks like there was definitely a brocade going on, and honestly it's just a bit too plain for my tastes.
3. I think I will take in the hem before wearing to an event. At least in the front. I know in period, having a hem past the feet was normal, you could just tuck it into a belt or pick it up over your arm, but I'd like a slightly higher level of comfort.
All that being said, here is my Clothing Challenge write up.
*All the paintings referenced here should be in my first blog post about the challenge.
1490’s Spanish/ Italian- Milanese style Gamurra
I modeled my entire outfit off of a painting entitled “ Mencia Mendoza with Saint Dominic” which is roughly dated to 1490(s). When researching this painting I hit a ton of snags so some suppositions were made. Per the biographical information on Mencia Mendoza she was Spanish with heavy Milanese influence. So, because of that, and the fact that the gamurra layer is not heavily visible in the painting I sources comparative works for that region and time period.
“Bianca Maria Sforza” by Ambrogio de Prendis 1493
“La Belle Ferroniere” Leonardo da Vinci 1490
“Lady with an Ermine” Leonardo da Vinci 1490
“Detail from the Pala Sforzesca” unknown 1494
I created my own pattern using some input and research from online sources. In particular, for bodice construction the paper “15th C clothing for men and women” by THL Peryn Rose Whytehorse, Barony of the South Downs, February 2015.
The gamurra layer is composed of a layer of canvas, with boning inserted in an attached linen buckram backing. Then covered in an additional canvas front. This is covered in a 100% yellow silk taffeta. I debated between the more historically accurate cording vs. boning, but time constraints won out and I used synthetic whalebone.
The bodice is fitted with 7 bones in the front and 5 in the back.
I then started on the skirt, with is 7 yard of the silk taffeta, lined with a thin bleached muslin. Because of the weight of the skirt I opted not to used the heavier weight linen I had. I also attached a twill tape the the top of the lining and felled the silk on top of that so I would have more stability when attaching the skirt to the bodice.
The panels of skirt were then cartridge pleated and whip stitched to the bodice.
This layer was 90% hand sewn. The only machine process was sewing the skirt panels together.
The sleeves are a linen burlap covered in the yellow silk taffeta., they are deliberately not lined with silk, as I plan to embroider them at a later date.
The lacing rings on both the bodice and the sleeve are 15c reproduction, and are hand sew on with a 3 strand embroidery floss.
I then made 18 fingerloop braids- 2 for the bodice lacing and 8 per sleeve, using 6 strand embroidery floss. I purchased aglets for the points, and sewed them onto each braid.
The sleeve cuffs are a layer of linen canvas covered in silk taffeta and have a 4mm yellow gold cording sewn in, to match the cuffs from the painting. The cuffs are attached separately to the finished sleeves.
In retrospect, I will probably go back and do hook and eye for the cuffs. And will probably shorten the sleeves overall by 2-3 inches. There is just slightly too much bunching in the forearm.
Hello, again. It's been a few months. I absolutely meant to update this while I was going through the clothing challenge, but well... life happens? Mostly the admin burden of writing out a new blog post every time a finish a task was just too labor intensive to do in conjunction with making a 4 layers outfit.
That being said I am getting to it now, so better late than never right?
I did finish all of my layers on time, thankfully. and even won a few sponsor prizes!
So how to do this?
I don't think doing one post for the entire thing is a great idea. Too much information overload.
I'm going to post by layer so that you can get a complete picture of what I did as well as my final write up for the challenge by layer:
This is the Spanish renaissance version of the Italian camicia (shift). They are very similar garments with the main distinction from the 1490’s period I am working in being, that the sleeves do a large bell at the end and dangle out of the bottom of the gamurra sleeves instead of tying or buttoning at the cuff. My main art reference is “Mencia de Mendoza with Saint Dominic”, (artist contested). I am hoping to do a complete recreation of this painting. She was high nobility in this period and my fabric and notion choices are reflective of that. These shifts were typically either heavily embroidered with blackwork or lace and were often made of fine linen or silk.
I opted for two types of silk-synthetic mix lace after examining the source painting closely. I sourced and purchased 15c reproduction lace for the collar and used lace I already owned for the sleeves and bottom hem. These were hand sewn on with a cream colored silk thread and a whip stitch. The camisa pattern is drafted by me, using art examples, online research of others recreating this period- “15th C Clothing For Men and Women” by THL Peryn Rose Whytehorse, and several books I own- “Patterns of Fashion” by Janet Arnold, Herald, Jacqueline- (1981) “Dress in Renaissance Italy 1400-1500” by John Murray, “Dress in Italian Painting 1460-1500” by Elizabeth Birbari.
I also consulted with the SCA Iberia Facebook group to get more Spanish specific info for this period, and help understanding the fashion differences between them and Milan. The camisa is made of a semi-sheer silk in cream, which gathers at the neck, back and around both sleeves. The inside sleeve raw edges are covered and whipped down with a cream colored twill tape for additional strength, since the cloth is quite thin and prone to unraveling. The neck was bound with a bias tape I made of the same material, with the lace being attached to the edge.
The sleeve and bottom hems are rolled and whip stitched with the lace added at the bottom.
If I could do anything differently- I probably would have picked a different painting. I didn’t realize at the start of this that there is VERY little information know about this artwork, and most of it is contested. They aren’t even sure this is actually Mencia De Mendoza…. So a lot of assumptions were made based on published research of that art. This led me to the ten year period around 1490, and influences from both Milan, and Barcelona as she was tied to both areas. Her fashion in this painting has elements of both cities- the long sleeves of the Spanish camisa, with the tighter fitting sleeves of Milan gamurra dresses at that time. The bodice of the dress isn’t seen in this gown so I had to use other art references from that period and those regions to help me pattern.
Having none of the support garments and very little of the under-dress showing in this art has been a difficult but exciting challenge. It has also given me a little freedom to make creative choices that would normally be limited in a strict recreation with more of the support garments showing