Like many costumers and SCA participants, for a long time I have been inspired by the extant 'Pisa dress'. I love the colour, the richness of the velvet, the style, and (most of all) the embroidery.
The Pisa gown from http://centuries-sewing.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/pisagownModa.jpg
|images of the Pisa dress from centuries-sewing.com|
Image from Moda Firenze by Bruna Niccoli and Roberta Orsi Landini
I have always wanted to try my hand at a version of the embroidery on this dress, so the ICC Mini Challenge seemed like a perfect opportunity. I chose to work on a pair of sleeves to give me an idea of how I would go if I decided to make a version of the whole gown later on.
There are other well known-examples of embroidered bands on Italian dresses, particularly those of Eleanora de Toledo:
Eleanora de Toledo by Bronzino (1543) from es.wikipedia.orgArchivo:Eleonora_di_Toledo_1543_Agnolo_Bronzino.jpg
Eleanora de Toledo burial gown bodice, image from http://aneafiles.webs.com/
(See also Anea's excellent article at http://aneafiles.webs.com/renaissancegallery/stays.html )
Image from Patterns of Fashion by Janet Arnold
Image from Moda Firenze
The embroidered panels on the 'Pisa' dress (copyright K. Carlisle) from http://cockatricearts.blogspot.com.au/2011/04/extant-dresses-in-pisa-updates-on.html - check out this site for an excellent article
I loosely based my embroidery design on the original on the extant 'Pisa' dress. I doodled until I found a design that flowed well and which resembled the original design. I then photocopied the panel and stuck the copies together until I had a repeating design. I photocopied that into a long continuous piece.
After pre-washing and ironing my fabric, I traced the design onto one edge and experimented with different types of thread and different stitches. Although the extant Pisa dress looks to have a lot of couching on it, I decided to avoid couching if possible. I have used couching to secure metallic thread on sleeves in the past, and I found that the couched threads regularly caught on aiglets and hooks and eyes, resulting in pulled threads. I didn't want to go to the trouble of embroidering sleeves that wouldn't wear well.
|The pink chain stitch on the right was the one I decided to use|
The next step was marking out the design panels ready to embroider.
I bought some fabric tracing paper which works like carbon paper, except that the design washes out in water. What a brilliant invention! I laid the 'carbon' paper on the fabric, and then put my photocopied design panel over the top and traced around the design. The only part of the design that I wasn't sure of was the little circles in the centre of the motif. I plan to try and change them into spirals.
I started embroidering the design in chain stitch. I haven't decided yet what stitch to use for the spirals.