Making an Italian Camicia – c1510

I decided I needed a new camicia for my new Italian gowns (okay I didn’t get them made in time). This camicia is based on a very specific style from the first quarter of the 16th century.
I drew from a number of portraits of women, specifically:

There are a number of other portraits that show a gathered camicia with a form of embroidery either around the hem or along the gathering in the neckline.
Bernardino Licinio –
Portrait of a Woman with "l'Acconciatura detta 'il Balzo'"

Raphael – La Velata

I made the camicia with linen batiste, which would give a similar look to that of the inspiration garments. It was made with 4 panels: front, back, sleeves.

See my paper on Camicia here: Evolution of the Camicia

I used the full width of the fabric (60 inches). I removed the selvage as it was much stiffer than period fabrics. Normally I would use the selvage and whip stitch the edges. As it was, due to the fraying edges, I ended up doing french seams.

The gussets are placed depending on the drape of the camicia and neckline you wish. I chose to have a camicia that would be more rounded.


The gussets are fairly generous, going further up towards the neckline.

If you make smaller gussets and place them further down the arm / body seam you will get a narrower sleeve at the bicep and around the body. It will create a square neckline.

I used about 30 inches of width per sleeve (1/2 the body) and made them extra long to allow for “poofing”.

Because the sleeve is pleated down to a small width (about 6 inches) and they are fairly narrow they created excess fabric at the head of the sleeve. This actually is ideal for a garment that you want lots of fabric for poofing at the top of the sleeve.

The embroidery was done with a silk pearl thread (Soie Perlee). The stitch was a chain stitch. I pleated up each panel and each chain was done picking up one pleat.


The seams were placed at the body/arm seam per the portraits.

Gathering threads were removed and a backing band was put on so the pleats would not move or the embroidery would not break under stress.


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