Archive for the ‘italy’ Category

8/22/14 Men’s 15th C Italian Gonnellino   Leave a comment

Documentation for my first gonnellino, entered in open A&S at a couple faires in Meridies.

There are several variations of over jackets or over gowns used by 15th C men in the Florentine/Ferrara area. The young stylish men tended to favor shorter versions, with variations of sleeves (size, shape, slit open/enclosed, or none), skirt length (crotch to knee length), open/closed sides, necklines, and pleating options (where they start or none).

Photo by Jessi Moss.



Allegory of April: Triumph of Venus. 1476-84. Francesco Cossa. Palazzo Schifanoia, Ferrara

Allegory of March: Triumph of Minerva. 1476-84. Francesco Cossa. Palazzo Schifanoia, Ferrara



Procession of the Oldest King. 1459-60. Benozzo Gozzoli.  Chapel, Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Florence.

Procession of the Oldest King.
1459-60. Benozzo Gozzoli.
Chapel, Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Florence.

From the Italian word for “skirt”, the gonnellino is a stylish short-skirted over gown or jacket worn over the farsetto (doublet).  It may or may not have slit sleeves to show the farsetto sleeves. The neckline tends to be curved in front and “V” shaped in the back to show the high collar of the farsetto. The Florentine example shows a split in the back to facilitate riding. The Ferrara examples show buttons to just below the waist, with possible seam below that. I left mine open from waist down in front and back to facilitate riding.

Neck, cuffs and hem are edged with fur, open sleeves appear lined, possibly with fur (as mine are). I choose brown fur edging to hide dirt from working with dogs and horses. White appears to be the preferred fur trim color, although there is one Ferrara example with (leopard?) spotted fur. Buttons are the same color as the body fabric. Florentine example indicates patterned fabrics were used as well as solid color.

In period the outer fabric was most likely wool, with a fur lining. My outer fabric is man-made, so I lined with wool for warmth.


In production: the top and skirt not connected and the fur not applied.















The fitted body with full skirt of the Ferrara examples strongly suggests a seam connecting the two. My gonnellino has 8 skirt panels sewn to the body with slightly more than the 1:4 bodice waist to skirt hem minimum ratio that appears to be common for women’s gowns of this period. Although I think 8 panels are reasonable to prevent stretching of the fabric, I think each panel was a little too wide, giving me a bit more volume in the skirt than seen in the artwork.


Herald, J. (1981). Renaissance dress in Italy 1400-1500. The History of dress series, 2. London: Bell & Hyman.

GONNELLA (M). The fourteenth-century version of the veste or vestito, and in the fifteenth century, a relatively short form of gown worn by men. The gonnellino is a shorter version still, worn by younger men.

VESTE/VESTA. Either the term corresponds to the gonnella of the fourteenth century, in which case it is a man’s gown with sleeves, made from a variety of textiles; or it applies more generally to a suit of clothes.

VESTITO (M/F). A general term, particularly during the latter part of the century, for an overgown with sleeves, probably a heavier version of the veste. In the splendid trousseau of Bianca Maria Sforza in 1493, there was just one vestito; but it was an extremely precious embroidered one (di raso cremisino recamato) with a hem (bulzana) of embroidered raso turchino, and over the breast 80 little jewels with a ruby and four pearls in each one. Ludovico il Moro once gave 17-1/2 braccia of zetonino avvellutato morello to Messer Mariotto da Reggio, oratore, to get himself made a vestito and a zuppone (Malaguzzi Valeri, op.cit., p. 422).


Posted August 22, 2014 by studioloperyn in 15th c italian clothing, italy

3/21/2012 – Gulf Wars   3 comments

Gulf Wars 21 is done. We had a great time and I’m very proud of both horses for handling the war so well. I only rode Nico. Picaro wasn’t quite ready to stay settled with all the new scary stuff so I walked him in hand alot and introduced him to everything. Although he was frequently wide-eyed, he handled almost everything except Raven, the big black mare, when she charged down the tilt lane across from him. She’s pretty intimidating so I understand. The years of operant conditioning paid off. As soon as he stopped running he looked around for me, I held out my hand, said “target” and he came right to me. I have a personal theory that mares may be better for jousting because they are more bad-ass. Nico lays back her ears and makes nasty faces when we tilt.

Nico gets very excited at the games and I am challenged to keep her smooth and quiet while riding (while standing she falls asleep). I got lots of compliments on my riding and was asked if I am a professional rider :) One of my first period riding class students from the last couple years told me this year he’s taking riding lessons at home and is amazed at how effective leg yeilds are in controlling his mount during mounted combat, something I emphasize in my classes :)

The dogs ran in the Royal coursing on Thursday and did pretty well handling the crowds. Everyone wants to get a puppy fix, but they get overwhelmed easily so we try to give them long breaks. Very cute to see queens of the Knowne World sitting on the ground and cajoling a 15 lb IG to come say hi.

I entered my camicia in the GW Arts & Sciences open on Friday. Although I didn’t win populace choice I got a huge surprise: wonderful praise from Kass McGann of Reconstructing History, a professional who has done much more hands on research of the actual garments than I will ever be able to do!

12/28/11 The camicia is done, long live the camicia   Leave a comment

photo credit - Martin WhitenOver a year of research, patterning and handsewing has come to an end. The 15th C Italian camicia is done and made its debut at Magna Faire Dec 3rd with an 18/20 score (KA&S rules). One point off for documentation (needs some orgnizational tweaks and there was a comment on “excessive documentation”) and one for complexity.

I hope to address both of these by reworking the documentation (already in progress) and enter again at MidWinter. The documentation was a little rough for Magna Faire so I didn’t get a chance to explain the extent of the research and pattern testing I did on this project, which I feel increases it’s complexity (along with the super tiny seams!).photo credit - Martin Whiten

The extraneous documentation was background on who would have made the camicias in period (Frick goes into detail on the seamstresses who specialized in personal linens) and how many a person would own. I will move these to an appendix to avoid overwhelming the casual reader, but I think those interested in the subject matter will find this information interesting.

The display got alot of compliments, but I think for the Gulf Wars open I’ll need a break down holder for the camicia instead of bringing Beth (my dressmaker dummy), she takes up a whole car seat.

photo credit - Susan Farmer

I also finished my 15th C Italian over dress and wore it at Magna Faire. It was mostly done for Red Tower, but needed a few more hooks in the front to get it to lay flat.

I tried sewing the box pleats closed for 2.5 inches, like the dresses in the Ferrara Triumph frescoes, but it completely changed the look at the waist, instead of being full just below the bodice, it was tight. It just didn’t look right (pictures to come later) so I ripped it all out and called it done.

I had a great time talking costuming with Domenica, judging a 15th C Italian gamurra and overdress by Jac, and having lunch with my apprentice sisters (who gleefully rummaged through my sewing box).

Next up is a rework to the new bodice pattern for the gamurra (I over did the front curve with awkward results) for a red/gold patterned dress and matching sleeves. I’m hoping to get it done for 12th Night or MidWinter and get this friggin’ pattern settled so I can crank out a couple more gamurras.

After that it’s all about getting stuff done for Gulf Wars. We’re bringing the horses and I need to make barding (yes, I have barding, but most of it is the horse equivalent of cotton t-tunics and needs to go away!). I’m also planning some men’s 15th C Italian outfits and have a long-sleeved skirted jacket in the works. Eventually I’d like a 16th C Ottoman riding outfit for mounted archery…….

Posted December 28, 2011 by studioloperyn in 15th c italian clothing, documentation, italy

Tagged with ,