The Purple Files: Buckram stiffening Investigated
My First Tudor gown by La Signora Onorata Katerina da Brescia.

*UPDATED* This sottana was remade with linen lining for the imbusto, from a linen Tudor sottana..

This sottana  was originally made as a Tudor dress with experimental buckram lining. I remade it to an Italian style sottana and 'latest improved' imbusto felt linings, increasing it to 6mm. The original inspiration was  Portrait of a Lady from the New York Metropolitan Museum and Portrait of a Young Woman in the Style of Hans Holbien the Younger (1540-50), The Jules Bache Collection.
Middle: Tudor version. Far Right: remade as Italian-style.

The skirt was removed from the imbusto which was unpicked. THe buckram was removed and replaced with layers of felt to 6mm thick. The lining was herringbone stitched (hand) together and then 'quilt' stitched to the canvas lining layers. This is thickest version, so far for the felt linings, and appears to make a difference.
The linen lining was replaced in the same way as for the original dress - folded over in a similar manner and hemstitched (flat lined) to the bodice. The skirt was whipstitched to the imbusto.

The sleeves were completely remade from left-over linen. They were based on the sleeve patterns from the Pisa dress. THey were cut on the bias to allow for slashing. This version is another experiment without any fray-check, material glue or beeswax to stop fraying... We shall see how long they last.

The button was made by covering a wooden bead and using a fingerknitted cord loop (consistent with that found on the Pisa dress) for the sleeve closure.
Final outfit:
Left: orginal 'Tudor' with buckram lining. Right: remake Italian with felt lining.

Conclusions and Discoveries:
  • the felt lining is not only more comfortable than the buckram, it does not retain the 'creases' after wearing.
  • the extra 2mm of felt lining DOES appear to make a difference in the silhouette of the dress.
  • I had actually lost weight from the making of the original dress. This actually makes the imbusto appear 'flatter' than a tighter imbusto.... so I will be rethinking some patterns now...


  • Ajmar-Wollheim, Marta & Dennis, Flora (ed). At Home in Renaissance Italy. V&A Publications London, 2006. ISBN: 10 1 85177 488 2.
  • Brown, Pauline. The Encyclopedia of Embroidery Techniques.  New Burlington Books, London. 2002. ISBN: 1-86155-652-7
  • Currie, Elizabeth. Inside the Renaissance House. V&A Publications, London, 2006. 10 1 85177 490 6.
  • Mikhaila, Ninya & Malcolm-Davies, Jane. The Tudor Tailor. BT Batsford.London. 2006. ISBN:0 7134 8985 5
  • Tudor Research - www_kimiko1_com.htm (Portrait of a Woman)
  • Portrait_of_a_Young_Woman/viewObject.aspx?&OID=110001110&PgSz=1
  • new tudor portratis 
  • Mode Historique:  Fabulous French Hoods (Sarah Lorraine) (3/08)
  • anne boleyn gallery
  • Archeological Sewing by Heather Rose Jones (2001)
  • (new adsottana: 8/06)
  • Archive of Stitches from Extant Textiles.
  • Sewing Stitches Used in Medieval Clothing:
(c) June, 2008

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(c). K.Carlisle, 2008.