Italian Renaissance Costuming Challenge

La Sottana: Patterning the Skirts

The brown silk I originally bought for this project was only 36” wide and 6 yards long, so I knew when I started this project that I was going to have to be very careful how I laid everything out. Back in December, I had scaled up Eleanor of Toledo’s burial gown, and cut out the skirts from hand-dyed linen, but since this project had to be done from scratch, I had set aside the linen to be re-purposed into something else. Looking back, this was a fortunate happenstance; the pattern I had made from Eleanor’s gown would have used the fabric efficiently, but would have given so little fabric to the waist that I wouldn’t have been able to pleat much of it. So it was back to the drawing board for me.

A close examination of the pictures of the Pisa gown on Bella and Anea’s sites led me to believe that it, like Eleanora’s burial gown, had gored skirts, as do all of the skirts in Alcega’s pattern book. So I knew a gored skirt was a better choice for this project. From past experience, I knew I wanted at least twice my waist size at the top, and at least 115” at the bottom. So I broke out the graph paper and started playing with shapes. I made straight panels for both the front and the back by about half of the measurement I wanted at my waist, and then shifted the bottoms apart until I had the right hem length and taped them down. Then I folded front and back edges to the middle and quarter lines to find the curves at the top and bottom. Finally, I laid a strip of graph paper of the fabric’s width over this pattern “mockup” to find the cutting layout. My final pattern is below.

Patterning the Bodice

Copyright © 2012, Margaret Roe