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
So remember in my last post t\when I said that I had a plan?
That was a bit of a stretch. What I MEANT was that I had a really good idea of that time period and the general resources that would be used to formulate that plan- based on my current knowledge of Italian fashion.
I was not counting on the fact that everyone during the 1490s was so in love with Italian fashion in this region that Spain goes completely unnoticed (there was also that pesky war going on...). So, the main art reference I wanted to use, as seen here, was becoming a bit difficult to research. I had significant trouble finding a lot of Spanish art during the 1490s time period, nor was I finding a ton of recreations of this painting or other artwork from that period in Spain.
TONS of Italian Ren art, reconstruction, and research, but Spain... pssh.
At this point I'd like to say that if you are just here to see how I actually construct the garments, I recommend skipping this entire blog post. It's going to be all history and rambling. You have been warned.
Ok- so before I backtrack too far or one of you tells me that I'm an idiot because "what about Ferdinand and Isabella" or why didn't I look at such-and-such academic paper?
YES, of course Ferdinand and Isabella are a wonderful art resource, as well as giving me some great historical context BUT I WILL GET TO THAT. Also, I have looked at a good bit of the academic papers, that I could get my grubby torrent-ing (sorry!) hands on, but I am not rich enough ( or at all, but that's besides the point) to be shelling out for access to paid academic articles. Especially not for a "fun" challenge. *Though please feel free to shoot me a comment with anything you think is relevant that isn't going to charge me 20 buckaroos for access.*
But, if this painting is such a motherfucker, why didn't you just pick another piece of art that would be easier to recreate?
That's easy, ITS BECAUSE I ALREADY HAVE THE PRETTIEST FABRIC AND IT PERFECTLY MATCHES THIS PAINTING AND I COULD DO AN EXACT RECREATION AND IT WOULD PROBABLY BE PRETTY AWESOME.
I hope this answers all questions about my motivations and level of sanity. Thank you for your patience.
Picture of fabric samples and craft room mess so you know (hopefully) why I'm obsessed with using it.
<--- Yup that's about 8 yards of the most gorgeous 100% Oscar De La Renta Canary yellow silk taffeta, if I was less professional there would be heart emoji's here.
As well as a really pretty red and burnt umber(?)-esque silk brocade. I'm a little less sure of the fiber composition on this one. I know it's not synthetic, but on burn test I'm feeling that it's maybe a cotton silk blend...? It's drape-y and has a good weight to it though, so for the sbernia I think it'll work well.
I also came across a good quality faux fur* at an estate sale this weekend so that will be the sbernia lining, seen in the painting.
*I am not opposed to using real fur, but I find that it makes laundering the garment a total pain. So until I have the time to make a removable real fur lining this'll do.
So the painting itself is a quasi-mystery.
The painting is called, at least from what I can find online: Dona Mencia de Mendoza with Saint Dominic. Except there is a lot of back-and-forth on whether this is actually Dona Mencia at all. It's an oil on canvas that is part of a multi-panel painting.
No, of course I cannot find the other panels.
Also the painter is unknown. Sigh.
It's listed (in everywhere that I can find , anyways) as being in
Civic Museums - Galleria Parmeggiani
Corso Cairoli, 2
but a pretty extensive search of that site has turned up zero evidence of it being there. Not that that means it isn't, there are plenty of items in museums that aren't shown in online catalogs. So basically what I'm saying is, I'm fairly sure it's there but since it isn't listed in their online catalog I don't have a definitive date on it.
I did email the museum to see if they would send me any images they have on file or at least confirm that it's there. I'll update if they get back to me.
I've found a few places online here and here, listing the painting around 1490-1500. There are some issues with that given that Dona Mencia, if that is her, would have been pretty young in the painting if that's the case. but hey, maybe. Let's investigate.
So I found as much artwork as I can from that period to compare. This was an ok resource and even lists the painting, but doesn't date it.
There are some elements to the painting that do help me though.
One- Dona Mencia isn't wearing a Spanish farthingale- which means it's either pre or post 1470-1480. The sleeve style indicates to me that it's later period- which matches up with the 1490s. There are a few Spanish and Milanese painting from that period that have the same silhouette. Looking at Beatrice d'Este was helpful, especially the Pala Sforzesca (1494). As well as the other paintings listed in my last post.
The chemise underneath matches paintings of Isabella from that period as well, with the super
drape-y bell sleeves poking out of the gamurra style gown- or Saya in Spanish.
The biggest hurdle in dating it for me is that I can't see much of the saya, specifically the bodice.
The bodices on the Italian and Spanish gowns from this period are super distinctive and both period and region specific, so it would have been a huge help to be able to see it.
I suppose we are going to have to do some guesswork on that.
In any case, I am starting with the camisa underlayer so that will be the next post, and we will get to the dilemma of the say when we get to it.
Also, for anyone that actually cares about the history or just wants to feel superior for a min, I'll post the actual research paper I'm doing in conjunction with this project ( What? you mean this weird rambling isn't the end of this?! Unfortunately, no) as soon as it's done, in a later post. One day.
So, after spending the first part of the month decorating for Halloween (yay to 10 ft tall inflatable Oogie Boogie)- instead of focusing on the clothing challenge, I am finally ready to get to work.
Per the rules, we have to complete 4 layers of garments, with one being an "accessories layer", that is up to the participant to choose.
From the Calontir Site:
Above are my main reference photos, though as I dig in, I'm sure I will need additional resources to get the panels, and silhouette correct, as I am going to attempt to draft my own patterns.
Not going to get into the specifics, but it's been a complete crap 2020.
So, sad to say that I have not created many costumes this year DESPITE having ample materials and time.
Meh, sometimes you just aren't feeling it.
I did recently sign up for this Calontir Clothing Challenge though. So now I'm trying to get back on the horse and crank out a full 15th century Milanese/ Spanish inspired outfit.
Deadline is January 31st. ...we shall see.
I also created this blog as a way to help me document my progress in one easy to find spot for our lovely organizers.
Maybe I'll keep it around after that, maybe not. 2020 is unpredictable.
*If you are interested in joining the challenge, want to sponsor a prize, or just want to know what all the fuss is about- head over to their webpage here.