The 1495 Italian Dress, Part Two


If you’d like to read part one of this series, you can find it here. After finishing the chemise, I finally got on to the fun part – the dress. Everything went surprisingly smoothly, and I’m in love with how it turned out. It could help that I adore the silky red fabric I got for it, but it turned out just how I pictured. I bought 6 yards of fabric for the dress and the sleeves, and used almost all of it.

I sketched and mapped out everything before I started, so I would know what my plan was.


Then, I started mocking up the bodice, with a thick waistband, one back piece, and one front. I used darts in the front to get the fit tight. My mock up actually turned out perfectly, so I made the final pattern. I transferred this pattern to pattern paper, added seam allowances, and cut it out of my fabric.


I cut everything out double, so that I could line the bodice with the fabric and make the seams less obvious. Then I sewed everything together.


It turned out lovely, and I pinned it up on my model to get an idea of the fit over the chemise. I turned over the edges and began putting in the eyelets.


Overall, the back of the dress has 36 eyelets (18 on each side). However, I ran out after 15, so I paused on the eyelets until later so I could buy more, and moved focus to the skirt. However, before I did so, I laced up what I had to get an idea of the look.


I wanted the skirt to be pleated with one inch pleats, and so I got out my fabric pen and marked out one inch increments. Each one inch pleat requires three inches of fabric, so it takes three times my actual waist measurement to make the pleats!


The pleating process was tedious but quick, and at the end it looks pretty nice. I straightened out some of the pins and the pleats, making sure everything was even.


After this, I sewed down all the pleats and attached the bodice. There was extra on each side, which I planned to cut off at the end. I usually pleat a little extra just in case I miscalculated measurements. Later, I unpicked this extra fabric and used it to make the sleeves. Then, I sewed the bodice to the skirt.


After this I could finally fit it, and it looked great! The skirt was much too long, but I cut it off, making the back have a slight train and the front be just a little bit higher.


After I put this on the model, I realized a problem – my cat loves this fabric. In fact, every time I didn’t pin the skirt up, she proceeded to sleep peacefully underneath it, and all you could see was a little tail.


Next post will cover making the sleeves and the final fittings, and should be up soon! This project has gone so smoothly and much faster than I expected, thanks to the lack of bumps and hitches.



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