1580s Italian working class pink dress, at the wearable stage

a kitchen scene painted in the 1580s by Vincenzo Campi
Vincenzo Campi’s “Cucina” (“Kitchen”)

See the woman in pink in the middle whose head is a little misplaced? I decided to make a copy of that gown using some pink linen I had on-hand. I purchased camel-color wool to use for the guards.

After talking to Mistress Alizaundre de Brebeuf about construction methodology, I was settled on binding both the hems and the seams. She pointed out that the guards were there to hide seams, from which we concluded two things:

  1. like me, the woman in the painting is asymmetrical in some way (I have one shoulder lower), explaining why she has a center-back seam but the woman in green doesn’t (her back panel could have been cut on a fold)
  2. bound hems act as reinforcement for the eyelets
woman standing in a field wearing a white chemise with large sleeves and a sleeveless square-necked pink linen dress, laced up the front
1580s working class dress, assembled enough to wear at Vlad & Kalisa’s coronation

The binding on the bodice is all cut on the grain in the direction of the warp, because on-grain will hold shape better than bias and use less fabric (an important consideration in period, enough so that I doubt the use of bias binding in period) and the warp threads are usually stronger than weft.

The skirt is done in small cartridge-pleats. Cartridge pleats are usually for gathering large amounts of fabric to a bodice, but as a working class woman, large amounts of fabric would be a luxury. Such conspicuous consumption would require a higher economic status. The pleats in the painting appear to be small and shallow, so I think this matches well.

Looking closely at the painting, you can see that her apron has two sets of ties. One keeps it from falling forward away from her when she bends over. I haven’t made an apron, but I may eventually.

The sleeves and guards are not yet done.

Click here to see a gallery related to this project

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