by La Signora Onorata Katerina da BresciaThe tailor of the Medici court,during Eleanora's time was Mastro Agostino. (La Mode a Fiorenze p26)
Sewing techniques: stitches used
This is one area in which research is very slow and difficult to pinpoint specifically to the time and region. Assumptions can be made based on contemporary stitches used and well-established tailoring methods.
A very good summary of documented and published stitches used in Florence can by found at the Sewing Stitches Used in Medieval Clothing website.
La Mode a Firenze shows close up of extant items which appear to have the following:
Hem stitch - a decorative pulled thread technique (on the neck of embroidered camicia dated mid 16thC. There is embroidery over the seams)
For England, 'payres of bodies' are recorded in Queen Elizabeth's Wardrobe Unlock'd. Much speculation has been made about corded corsets and other forms of corsetry with regards to the first half of the 16th century, in Florence. More up-to-date research on Florentine dress can be found in La Mode a Firenze. This information is based on Medici documents and Gardaroba (wardrobe listings), portraits and the few extant items of clothing available.
In Eleanora's Gardaroba, there is no mention of 'payres of bodies' or corsets stiffened with either whalebone, bents or reeds which appear to be the most common form of stiffening used for corsets of the time. There are 'stays' or busto de sotto recorded. However it appears that Eleanora's stays were mainly of soft materials. They were lined and interlined with linen. All stays recorded for Eleanora were made of velvet. However other stays had been recorded to be made of satin.
There are only two known extant gowns from Florence in the 16th century. A red velvet dress, with sleeves, from a wooden statue in Pisa. (La Mode a Firenze, p 70 ) and Eleanora's burial dress. The second is the more documented of the two, having being described in detail in Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion, and more recently in La Moda a Firenze. Both gowns were made in a similar fashion. It appears that the stiffening for the gowns was incorporated into the actual imbusto itself. This padding of the consisted of four fabric layers:
Traces of felt and linen were found in both the above extant garments. Cardboard is also suggested as a form of stiffening, being slipped into the imbusto. This is also suggested in The Tudor Tailor which was recently published in March, 2006 and deals with English clothing of the first half of the 16th century. This method was also used in Spain (La Moda a Firenze, p 84-5). Eleanora di Toledo's family was Spanish so it is not surprising that this form of stiffening may have been used in Florence at the time she was Duchess. Cardboard was commonly used in Florence for imbusto stiffening by the 1650's.
Along with the burial dress was found plain velvet stays. This had no sign of boning or channels for boning. It is conjectured that these stays were more likely for warmth (La Moda a Firenze, p 132).
The closest thing to an actual corset, in Eleanora's Gardaroba, was one pair of steel stays made for her. These however appear to have been made for therapeutic reasons and not for restructuring her clothing silhouette. (La Moda a Firenze, p 132)
2. Stiffening the hem
3. Edging the imbusto and skirt hem
This edging was also used on the edges of the panes in the sleeve of Bronzino's Laudomia de' Medici, 1560 - 65.
The imbusto is usually lined with linen or silk which is 'blindstitched' to the neckline (to allow for the above edging). The edges of the lining are turned under , then stitched by hem stitch or modified running stitch. (See Archeological sewing). It is not commonly 'bagged' - stitched and turned inside out.
convercie: shoulder cape/hankerchief
gorgiere (e colletti) : partlets
Bibliography:Alcega, Juan.The Tailor's Pattern Book, 1589 Facimile, Ruth Bean, Carlton, Bedford, 1979.
Arnold, Janet Patterns of Fashion, MacMillan, London, 1985. ISBN: 0-333-38284-6
Arnold Janet, Queen Elizabeth's Wardrobe Unlock'd, Maney, Leeds, 1988, ISBN:0-901286-20-6
Kovesi Killerby, Catherine, Sumptuary Law in Italy 1200-1500, Oxford University Press. NY. 2002. ISBN:0-19-924793-5
Crowfoot E, Pritchard F & Staniland K, Textiles and Clothing 1150-1450, Boydell Press, Woodridge, 2001 (ed) ISBN: 0-85115-840-4
Frick, Carole Collier. Dressing Renaissance Florence.: Families Fortunes & Clothing. John Hopkins University Press. Baltimore. 2002. ISBN: 0-8018-6939-0
Orsi Landini, Roberta & Niccoli, Bruna. La Moda a Fioenze 1540-1580. Pagliai Polistampa, Firenze, 2005. ISBN: 88-8304-867-9
Ricci, Elisa. Old Italian Lace Volume 1. William Heinemann, London. 1913 available on line at: http://www.cs.arizona.edu/patterns/weaving/books.html
Veccellio, Cesare. Vecellio's renaissance Costume Book. Dover Publications. NY. 1977. ISBN: 0 48623441X
Willet, C. & Cunnington, Phillis, A History of Underclothes, Dover Publications, NY, 1992, ISBN: 0-486-27124-2
(c) September, 2006
(c). K.Carlisle, 2008.