Venetain Obsession

I've had a bit of a thing about 16th century Venetian gowns for a very long time now. At first, it was pretty simple. They were pretty and popular and I wanted one. It did not stay that way.

Let's get in the way back machine!

Here's my first effort all the way back from 2005/2006. It's a self supporting bodice, boned with cable ties. I made a classic full camicia to wear underneath. There's no petticoat, which is why it's so limp, because how do you wear a petticoat under an open ladder-laced gown? There's nothing to hide the waistband! It was a lovely effort, especially considering how little sewing I'd actually done at the time. It was fun to wear and I felt really pretty.

But, of course, me being me, that was not enough. Ultimately I didn't feel like I'd really captured the true Venetian silhouette. So I read many dress diaries, stared at lots of portraits, and started a new dress.

Still love that hair.

This is effort number two, from 2007. Getting closer! This time I wore the gown over a corset and a false camicia stomacher. I also had a padded petticoat underneath. During the construction process I experiment with a padded stomacher but abandoned it for a reason I can't remember now. I was very happy with how the gown looked, and it was
lovely to wear,
I was almost there! Why did I abandon that?
but I still wasn't happy with the bodice silhouette.

Fast forward a few years and I'm still obsessing. How do you get the bodices to look like that? See how the bodice slopes down from the bust to the stomach instead of curving in under the bust, near the waist, as it does on both my versions? How do you get that if it's nothing but a bodice over a camicia? Where are the petticoats? How do you keep the camicia (fake or real) so straight under the lacing? How do make the bodice that stiff when there is not actual evidence of bonding in this period? How do you keep the laces so straight?

What is this witchcraft?!

A Lady in White - Titian   She's probably a witch.

I read more blogs. I got my hands on Moda a Firenze, which is not Venetian, but that's as close as we can get. I thought more about padding and how boning wasn't really a thing before the 1580s, especially not in Italy. I bought fabric. I plotted. I took unflattering bathroom mirror photos!

And now I'm in the middle of my Cunning Plan.

I'm a great photographer.

Do you want to know more? Do you want to see how pretty this is going to be? Do you want to see what kind of witchcraft this is?

Stay tuned, my friends, stay tuned!


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