compiled by La
Signora Onorata Katerina da
The following are closeups from
portraits, mostly from Florence, from the late 1540s to 1600s.
They are from zimarra and
vestes (over dress).
The first two are from a portrait of Eleonora
and her son Francesco
by Bronzino, 1549. This is a more classic
zimarra of the earlier part of the mid 16th century, having a Turkish
inspiration and 'frogs' as the closure.The buttons are more likely
knotted. The 3rd portrait is of Lucrezia
Panciatichi (now thought to be Eleanora)
by Bronzino, 1550.
I have converted it to greyscale to try to make the button more
visible. This could be knotted or cord knotted over a buttone. (this is
seen in Janet Arnold's Pattern of
, for the Medici men's extant garments). Portrait 4 is a
little later, as is portrait 5 and 8. Both 4 and 5 are on vestes
but show a similar style, with loops for closure. Figures 6 and 7 are
from one Vecellio figure. They show buttone of a similar shape which
could be knotted cord over a wooden base. All show a small bead or knot
on the tip of the buttone.
Extant examples of buttons from Florence, England and Europe can be
found from the late 16th to early 17th century.
button from Red Dress - Pisa (1560?) found on a wooden effigy at
San Matteo, currently at the Palazzo
Reale di Pisa. (Museum Nazionale).
loop closure for the button of the same dress.
K Carlisle, 2008)
burial doublet of Don Garzia d' Medici. Patterns of Fashion
possibly of Don Fillipino, son of Francesco d'Medici and Giovanno
d'Austria. (1582). I Medici
riesumano i Medici.
English example of Anne Denton (1576) Hereford Cathedral Patterns of Fashion.
in Royal Scottish Museum (1610) Patterns of Fashion.
satin suit (1618) found in the Victoria & ALbert Museum . Patterns of Fashion.
silk tafetta doublet (1610) Germanisches National Museum, Nurnberg. Patterns of Fashion.
Here, I have shown examples of woven and/or threads over beads. Some
are just after 1600 but, as they show a individal shankand not a loop,
I have included them. In the case of fig 15, you can see
see the shank sewn directly to the material.
With all of these examples, there appears to be either silk or threads
sewn over a wooden bead, then sewn onto the garment. Buttonholes
or loops are used to complete the closure. The buttons are found on
zimmara (loose gowns), doublet, and overgowns. They can also be used as
decorations on baragoni / sleeves and bodices, not just for closures.
One version of HOW TO:
1. Pass the thread through the wooden bead and tie a half knot on the
2. Pass thread through the bead several more times to create 'spines'.
The number will depend on the size of the bead. I usually do 8.
3. (top button in white only)...starting at the top, weave the thread
horizontally around the bead to the bottom. You may have to start a new
thread before you are done. I usually pass it up under the weaving, to
the top and then down through the hole to the bottom. This will leave
long threads, like a tadpole. The new thread starts up through the
middle (from the bottom) and pass down,under the weaving, to where you
left off and start again.... I am not sure if this is the 'correct' way
to do it, but it works for me.
|4. is a smoother button made by the
first method of weaving.
5. The prominent spines made by the second weaving method. ft:
A smoother button made by the first weave and 5. the raised
spines of the second method.
6.(below) using the 'tails' sew through the material, leave a gap as
long as long as you want the shank, then up through the bottom of the
bead to the top and back down the bead again. Repeat at least a few
times. On the last pass, you can thread a bead as in 5.
7. (below) Using the same and remaining thread, do a buttonhole stitch
over the 'shank threads' from top, to bottom and then finally through
the material and tie off.
9. (below) ANother option, I have recently tried, is to pass the
threads through the bead, as above, but not going through the material,
hence forming loops.
10.(below) Then, with the remaining thread buttonhole stitch over
loop. Tie a knot in the threads left coming out of the top. A
glue can be added to keep this in place. Add a bead? or cut the ends to
form a tuft.
Here are examples of some buttons I have made and
how they can be used.
The first was woven under the
spine, looping over, creating visible spines. The second one was woven
over, then under to create a smoother button. Both have a pearl bead at
the top, as possibly seen in Vecellio.
This zimmara was only
had buttons on the front, I made some plain ones and frogs to
match, for the sleeves, replacements can be seen below.
- Arnold, Janet. Queen Elizabeth's Wardrobe Unliock'd and
Patterns of Fashion
- Ferri, Marco. II Medici riesumano i Medici. Nuova Toscana
Editrice, Florence, 2005. ISBN: 88-87263-41-8.
- Kovesi Killerby, Catherine, Sumptuary Law in Italy
1200-1500, Oxford University Press. NY. 2002. ISBN:0-19-924793-5
- L'Abito della
Granduchessa; Vesti di corte di Madonne nel Palazzo Reale di Pisa. Museo
Nazionale di Palazzo Reale, Pisa
- Moda alla Corte dei
Medici, gli albiti restauranti di Cosimo, Eleanora e don Garzia, Firenze
: Centro Di, 1993. Description: 107 p. : ISBN: 8870382389
- Orsi Landini, Roberta & Niccoli, Bruna. La Moda a Fioenze 1540-1580.
Pagliai Polistampa, Firenze, 2005. ISBN: 88-8304-867-9
- Vecellio, Cesare, Vecellio's Renaissance Costume Book,
Dover Publications,NY, 1977. ISBN: 0-486-23441-X
- Who Wears What?
- Bildindex der Kunst und
- Il Libro del Sarto or Milanese Tailors Handbook.
Photos of button construction. ©
K Carlisle, 2008-9
© K Carlisle, 2009