I Am NOT Starting a New Project I Am NOT Starting a New Project…

This is me not starting a new project until I am done with the current one. Sarah posting that she made most of a Venetian dress in a weekend had me grumbling to myself — why can’t I work that fast? But then it made me think — well, maybe I could, if I did something relatively simple that I had mostly patterned already. Combine this with some random 16th century thoughts that have been infiltrating lately, plus my desire to avoid ever making a farthingale, and my fear of dealing with the yards of velvet I have earmarked for a Tudor dress, and you get: I should make another Italian gown! Something simple, elegant, and made of the 4.25 yards of 54″ gorgeous orange silk damask that I have in my stash.

That 4.25 yards is the pesky part — I’d always assumed it was too little to make a whole dress. But then I started thinking. And looking all of your projects on the web. And I found Jessamyn’s diary where she (much smaller than I, granted) made a dress out of a similar amount of fabric. And then I got out my copy of Moda a Firenze, which I’ve skimmed but never read, and thought about how nice it would be to have a Florentine dress… This is how my mind works!

So, the question is, Florentine or Venetian? I’m kind of leaning toward Florentine, something 1550s-ish in the style of Eleonora di Toledo (like this portrait). I’m actually intrigued by trying to do some kind of pieced skirt like in her burial gown — I made a scale pattern (ha! I amuse myself) and found that I could make a skirt that’s 158″ at the hem and 79″ at the waist. I’m not sure if that’s enough for my size, so I’d need to mock it up. I could make a relatively simple dress — shaped panel skirt, side-back laced bodice, simple-ish sleeves with the puffs in the Eleonora portrait. I could even make a pearled partlet, using the cream silk organza and pearls in my stash. Except that then I read in Moda a Firenze how much this style/era was done in unpatterned fabrics… so maybe my fabric isn’t the best choice? And I would need some gold trim (need to troll on ebay).

So the alternative would be to make another Venetian, something simple like this 1560-61 Venetian, perhaps make a pretty girdle out of the garnets and pearls in my stash. I laid out the pattern pieces from my courtesan dress and I could get a skirt that’s 135″ (which is the width of my courtesan dress) and just eke out the bodice and sleeves from the fabric, with some scraps to make shoulder rolls.

Hmm hmm! What to do! I’m kind of leaning towards Florentine, since that would be a new style, but then I’m not sure if I’d have enough fabric in the skirt to look good on me (any guesses?) and I’m wondering if the fabric is appropriate (okay, so it’s not like it would be the end of the world to use a patterned fabric, but I’m being a dork).


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  • Reply Trystan L. Bass April 25, 2007 at 10:55 pm

    What about find a contrast fabric for either the bodice or the sleeves? That would leave most of the fabric for the skirt & you’d only need a little for on top to tie the colors together. That’s always my solution to “is there enough fabric?” And I think it looks pretty :-)

    Over-achiever, you!

  • Reply Kendra April 25, 2007 at 11:40 pm

    I thought about that (different fabric for the sleeves), but that doesn’t appear to be done in this era (for either city).

    Another idea would be to put a wide guard on the skirt hem (like in Sarah’s black/bronze Venetian) — I could save a big chunk of fabric if I put in a 10″ hem guard. Hmmm…

  • Reply J April 26, 2007 at 12:49 am

    But, there’s other protraits of Eleonora later in life (I know because I look like her in the portrait you linked, and so I’m a bit obsessed with her and Bronzino in general) including the famous one of her in the figured velvet dress with her son that show that the Florentines did use patterned fabric! Look:

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