The 1495 Italian Dress, Part Three

Gown CollageThis will be the last post on my Italian Renaissance Gown, sans the post I’ll probably do on styling the hair. I completed the sleeves and hemmed the skirt of the dress this week, and it’s ready for wear as soon as my wig for it comes in. This post will cover making the sleeves, cutting the skirt shape, and the finishing embellishments.

I took four measurements – just below my armpit, just above my elbow, just below my elbow, and my wrist. I then measured between my armpit and above my elbow, and below my elbow and my wrist. These measurements would become the two sleeve pieces, which were essentially trapezoids. I added seam allowances and then took an inch off each long side, so there would be a gap for the fabric to come out. Then, I cut a whole lot of ribbon pieces.


I only cut out the two upper-arm pieces to begin with, in case anything went wrong. I then marked and pinned where the ribbon would be, so they could be sewn in to the seams.

IMGP4188I sewed them right sides together, leaving a little hole to turn them inside out.


I added the ribbon ties to the dress itself so the sleeves would tie on. This is where I came across a problem. It is very hard to fit sleeves on a model with no arms, and pretty much impossible to tie these things on yourself. I enlisted the help of a family member, and put them on.


At this point I was a little worried because they weren’t sitting exactly how I would have liked, as they weren’t stiff enough, but figured the embellishment I had would straighten this out, since it had wiring in the embroidery. I went ahead with making the bottom set of sleeves, and ended up with a very nice pile of trapezoids.


Worn, they still didn’t have the exact desired look, but things were starting to take shape, and I forged ahead.


I went ahead with sewing on the embellishment, which would match the one on the chemise neckline. This stuff frayed horribly, so I ended up having to use a ridiculous amount of Fray Stop just to keep them from going unraveling in my hands.


It was night time when I finished these, so I went ahead and hemmed the skirt since no one was up to help me fit things. I cut the hem of the skirt to give it a slight train in the back with a rise in the front, so my shoes almost poked out, as seen in some illustrations from the time. The next day, I put everything together.

All viewsIt was perfect! I was in love. This has to be one of my favorite things I’ve made this year. I’m waiting for my wig to arrive so I can photograph it properly, but depending on how impatient I get, I may end up attempting to use my natural hair.

This project went off with almost no hitches, which is such a relief. I rarely have something go so smoothly, and I’m hoping the projects I have coming up will go just as well.




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