Sunday, September 25, 2011

ACC - Camicia

For my Camicia pattern, I used the pattern outlined in Dorothy Burnham's Cut My Cote, which had further research and extrapolation as shown at Realm of Venus.

This camicia is made from a lightweight white linen from my stash.  It is not as light or high-quality of linen as I would have preferred, but given cost constraints, I went with it.  I was able to use a finer quality linen for the embroidery, from a small piece in my stash - there was simply not enough for the entire garment.
Completed Camicia (excuse the poor photo)
I initially was going to sew the camicia by machine. In fact, the sleeve seams were done by machine, but when I got to the point in which I would need to set in the gusset in the underarm, I switched gears and completed the rest of the camicia by hand. This was done to test my own hand-sewing skills, and to see how much control I could have.  I historically make a mess of gussets, and I had read how much easier it is by hand.
Hand-set Gusset

Using Laura Mellin's documented method of Elizabethan hand-sewing, I finished all seams first, and then connected the pieces with a tight whip stitch. The close-up photographs in Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion 4 clearly indicate this was a commonly practiced method of sewing in period. I was thrilled with how much control I had, particularly when setting the gussets, and it was nothing but a success.

Close-up of hand finished and whip-stitched seams

I gathered the camicia into a neckband, using a piece of blackwork as the front center part of the band which I completed. I did the blackwork in silk directly onto the linen by counting threads, in a pattern based on one from the 16th Century Italian Blackwork Sampler from the Victoria and Albert Museum. It's the blue one directly under the large red central voidwork pattern. (Bonus points for the embroidery matching my nails!)

Blackworked neckband

 After hand stitching the neckband into place and finishing the hem, I hand stitched lace at the sleeve cuff, rather than gathering the cuff into a band. This sleeve finish is shown in quite a few period portraits, such as Leandro Bassano's Portrait, Lucretia, c. 1570-80's.  I chose this sleeve finish simply because I have a camicia with a gathered sleeve already.  The lace was from my stash, and turned out to be almost exactly the right amount for this project - I only have about three inches left over!

Hand-Sewn inside seams

Lucretia by Bassano


Burnham, Dorothy K. "Cut My Cote." Royal Ontario Museum; Illustrated edition (1973)

Janet Arnold, "Patterns of Fashion 4." Macmillan, London, 2008.

Landini, Roberta Orsi and Bruna Niccoli (2005) "Moda a Firenze 1540-1580. Lo stile di Eleonora di Toledo a la sua influenza", Edizioni Polistampa, Florence

Realm of Venus. 2005-2011. Extant Shifts/Camicie.

Realm of Venus. 2005-2011. How to sew a Venetian Camicia. 2011. Kat's Handsewn Linen Camicia. 2011. The Italian Camicia.