Cristofano dell Altissimo's Guilia Gonzaga in mourning, 1535.
This sottana (petticoat/dress) more closely resembles the 1540-50 Florentine styles though 5-10 years earlier. I prefer this 'transitional' style, as it has a higher waistline to the later 1540's styles.
While trying to recreate the dress, I will be using authentic tailoring construction techniques used at the time. The exception is the use of linen, for Adelaide summers (35-40 deg Celcius plus) and the use of machine sewing for major seams. All visible stitching will be handsewn.
This sottana is also to be made of materials I already have in my wardrobe.
|Right is the sample of linen
material for the sottana. This will be lined with wool felt
purchased from Spotlight, some time ago. The lining will be of the same
How much to use? (documenation) (22nd October)
The common loom width of material (in Florence) was 58cm, but looms wider than this are not unheard of for plain fabrics. (satin, taffeta, maybe damask) La Moda a Firenze p 184. These are recorded from 73cm to 117 cm (2 braccia - one braccia = 58.8cm in Florence 16thC).
|Right is my version of the 'Eleanora di Toledo' dress from Eleanora and her Son by
Bronzino. I am happy with the fullness of the skirt back, but feel
there is not enough pleating in the front (middle right). I used
approximately 6 m of material in this dress.
The extant sottana from Pisa (far right), though reconstructed by modern scholars, shows a more gathered front skirt.
Personally, I like the look of more material. It hides a multitude of sins (for modern sensibilities) and, in the 16th century, would have shown that I could afford to wear more materials in my skirt. implying that I belonged to a higher class. Conspicuous consumption showed your wealth at the time.
With the exception noted above, I will be using the patten I have already used for my recreated version of Eleanora di Toledo's sottana and Maria d'Cosimo's sottana. However, I will be adjusting the waistline.
Though difficult to see, in this portrait of Guilia Gonzaga by Cristofano dell Altissimo (right), it appears that the front waistline may not as peaked as Eleanora's burial dress and definately not as much as the Pisa extant dress. (both from the 1560s) This sottana is some 20 plus years earlier.
(Note: I have lightened the picture to try to allow us to see the details more clearly)
The sottana also seems to have the higher waistline of the 1530s and early 1540s. My personal preference is actually for the slightly higher waists, as they are more (modernly) flattering, but more importantly are much more comfortable for me.
|Other similar early styled sottana are:
1.Portrait of Lucrezia Pantciatichi, 1540 (though contemporary larger baragoni - upper sleeves, skirt pleating is different)
2. Bia, the Illigitimate daughter of Cosimo, 1542 (Bronzino)
3. Unknown Florentine woman (Bronzino) 1544-45. This is a little harder to see the actual waistline, but looking at the arrangement of the pleats, I am sure it is straight.
These are actually from the 1540s but closer in style to Cristofano dell Altissimo's portrait than the other 1530's styles. This would tend to show that styles are forever evolving! (or the experts have misdated the portrait?)
|Here are pictures of the finished neck edging, now clipped. I have not
used anything to help reduce fraying (I have heard beeswax could be
used), so this is an experiment in how well it holds up. Cutting the
edging on the bias should help. Interestingly, the slight fraying looks
very similar to the red dress (below right) from the portrait
of Lucrezia Panciatichi.
So I am happy with this result, so far. (far right)
Patterns of Fashion states that the skirt openings are finished with satin bias strips approx. 22.4 x 2.5cm, which were top stitched in place. (p104).
From this, (as I have previously done with my Maria d' Medici outfit), I finished the skirt openings with bias of the same purple linen material. I used running stitch to 'topstitch' the edge, and hem stitched the other side down. (right).
Now for the trickiest part (and the bit I hate the most) but one of the most important ones - the pleating.This needs to be done correctly or the sottana skirt will not sit properly.
|As I have already discussed above (in 'What was the thinking behind that?') I am making the skirt more gathered than my recent dresses.
This is a preference of mine, as it hides a multitude of sins as well
as being another variation on the 'florentine' style of the following
Right is the new variation of the gathered skirt, compared to my 'old design' (made for Maria d' Medici and Eleanora d'Toledo) and to the above portraits and red extant sottana from Pisa... (wahoo, finally some machine sewing again...)
Before starting on the sleeves, I needed to do a little experimenting. As there will be significant slashing, between the trim, I wanted to find out the best way of reducing the inevitable fraying that will occur during wear. This sottana is to be washable and I did not want to have to sew or bind the edges of the slashes, as this is not seen in the red Pisa dress.
RESULTS of my EXPERIMENTS are HERE
After experimenting, I decided to cut the slashing after applying a line of fabric glue on the back of the material. I had already decided to cut the sleeves on the bias, as this is known to reduce fraying.
Right is the sleeve pattern with the positioning of the slashes. The trim was handsewn to the sleeve.
I lined the sleeves with a tafetta, to reduced the 'drag' on the slashing when putting the sleeves on and off. This was handsewn with running stitches. Far right is a finished sleeve (minus the pearls).
Here is a close up of the running stitches before the trim was hand sewn on (right) and detail of the sleeve trim and slashing (far right).
In my stash, I have some pearls I purchased at Festival, from Master Thorfin. I will use this to finish off the trim, as seen in Bronzino's 1551 portrait of Maria de Medici.
|Eyelets now had to be sewn, as I could not finish off the hem, stiffening, edging and trim without the sottana fitting properly.
The eyelets holes were made with an awl and hand bound in embroidery thread. I do not use boning (between the edge and eyelets) as I can find no documentation for the first half of 16thC (Florence or England for that matter) on this method. I find that using spiral lacing provides a flat profile by itself.
Far Left; front of eylets. (here you can also see the running stitches.) Middle: back of eyelets (you can also see the hemstitched lining). Left: final spiral lacing
|Typically, the sottana was made, then sent to the embroiderers (for decoration) afterwards (Dressing Renaissance Florence).
Now that the sottana is finished, I can have the ... fun... of more handsewing on the trim. (this is one thing I have learned... more authentic means more handsewing!)
I had purchased this trim, a few Festivals ago, but only bought 4.5m... I have learnt a few things since then. After being frustrated and refusing to buy alternate trim (as I was trying to use up my stash of materials and trim here), I found another 10 (yards) on ebay. This will allow me to do more than just the imbusto trim (thank goodness) but also the hem (to cover the felt stiffening and stitches), and the sleeves.
|The portrait of Guilia Gonzaga is
very simple and not decorated, as she is in mourning. Brown was the
colour of mourning at this time, in Florence. Decoration and
accessories were minimal.
Bronzino's portrait of Eleanora (1542)shows a more common placement of trim on the imbusto. I have used this and the above examples, though some 5 years later, as they are of a closer style to the transitional sottana than other styles in the 1530s.
|Left is Janet Arnold's drawing of Eleanora's burial dress, form Patterns of Fashion. This
gives us the opportunity to see the back of the trim placing on the
imbusto. The main difference between both extant dresses (early 1560s)
and the 1540 examples, is the middle front trim.
The sleeve trim is very similiar in Bronzino's portrait of Eleanora (1542) (above left) and the extant dress from Pisa (above right), with verticle trim down the sleeves, and the baragoni. The extant Pisa sottana has trim around the cuff. This is cannot vbe seen in the Portrait of Eleanora.
Ah! This is where one finds that one has not bought enough trim, even after a second buying spree. I will need 3 more yards to trim the imbusto.
|Finally I am sewing on the decorations and final touches!
I am using the trim placement (right) for the imbusto, trim on the hem (HEM DIARY) .
The trim was handsewn in place. (next time I will buy at least 15m of trim for this style.
Just when I thought I was done... I remembered I had to make two buttons!
|Agneta, my apprentice sister, came over today and we spent the day sewing and making girdles. Left is the new girdle for this outfit. It is made from chocolate brown glass beads (from ebay) and glass 'pearls'. The faux pearl industry was a big one in the 16th century. Venice had a roaring trade in glass pearls. This allowed those who were not allowed to wear pearls, to wear something that looked like pearls but not have to pay the price for breaking the sumptuary laws. Agneta showed me how to make a bead tassel, as right (Eleanora and Son, Bronzino)|
|imbusto of four layers - visible material/ wool felt/ linen/ lining of linen or satin using :
|handsewn silk covered eyelets|
|spiral lacings on side-back openings on imbusto|
|lining hemstitched to main imbusto
|lining or strip of decorative (cut) edging to neckline, cuffs and hem.
|hem stiffened with wool felt, decoratively edged strip covering this|
|pin tuck above the hem and
garding (of bought trim)
|bias strip hem stitched to skirt opening at side back.
This was done in the same material as the dress - hand sewn with running top stitch and hem stitch.
|sleeves with small decoration on head (so Zimarra can be worn over to complete the outfit)and slashing, tied or buttoned onto the imbusto|
|patterns based on Eleanora's burial gown and Alcega's Tailor Book
The waistline was adjusted to a higher position (to the later patterns of Eleanora's burial gown (1562) and Alcega's Tailor Book (1589) ) to reflect the earlier fashion.
|The colour is consistent with colours documented to be used by Eleanora di Toledo (as close to Purplish-violet I could find).|
(c) K. Carlisle. 2006