Historical, Sewing

16th Centuray Italian Peasant Dress – Part 3: Bodice & Result

<<< Part 1: Camica
<< Part 2: Skirt & Bodice Drafting
Part 3: Bodice & Result

Hi everyone! Thanks again for joining me on my journey to making a 16th century Italian peasant dress. Today I am showing you how I made the bodice, and share some pictures of me wearing the whole ensamble to Castelfest, a Renaissance Fair here in The Netherlands that I attend every year.


Last week I finished the third mockup of the bodice using a pattern drafting tutorial by Elizabethan Costumes. I also referred to Morgan Donner’s 1560 dress construction a lot, especially for this week’s post about boning!


I cut my final bodice pattern out of the red linnen, and out of a scrap of batist (thin cotton) that would function as a lining.


I have made a total of 1 corset before using a 10 year old Deviantart tutorial that I can’t seem to find again. The tutorial said to use another piece of fabric to create the boning channels instead of twill tape. I was very pleased with this technique when making my 1 corset before so I decided to re-use it.


The 3rd layer is a heavy cotton canvas that will both stabilize the fabric and create the boning channels.


Here are the boning channel layers: one layer of cotton canvas and one layer of batist.


I used wide zip ties in place of whale boning. I copied Morgan Donner’s layout of the boning, having it run at an angle from the armpit down.


I carefully drew all boning channels with pencil.


Then I stitched every channel. I forgot to mention I added 2.5cm seam allowance to the center front to make up for the extra bulk the zip ties will add.


Zip ties inserted!


You can see I marked the second boning channel to remain empty, and it was also 0.5cm wider. Why? This is where the lacing holes will be! Placing one piece of boning in front of the lacing holes (instead of having the lacing holes dead center front) will help lace it up nicely.


I added two more boning pieces at an angle.


I cut all zip ties to length and stitched the horizontal seams, keeping them in place. I also sanded down the sharp edges of the zip ties using an (UNUSED!) foot file – LOL! Finally I stitched the side-back seams of the bodice front and back panel.


I placed the boning panels on the outside fabric, and clipped all corners so I could easily turn them over. In hindsight I should not have done that as it does show some fraying on the outside of the bodice. Next time I should just press really well!


Here’s the bodice ready for hand-sewing.


here is where I really messed it up. Clipping was just a terrible idea. The fabric started fraying and tearing further.


Eventually I decided to add a 4th layer and machine- stitch it to the other 3 layers. I used another piece of batist for this. I don’t think this is historically accurate but it sure did look better and made me less afraid that the turned-over edges would start fraying more.


Time to insert the lacing holes! I spaced them 2cm apart except for the first two, which are 1cm apart.


I did the same on the other side, off-setting the lacing holes. The bottom two holes on the right side of the bodice are 1cm apart, the rest is 2cm apart.


I puched the holes with an awl and did a test-lace. Looking good, but the string I used was really thick so I struggled a lot!


Seeing as it was the evening before the event, I decided to leave it as is and get some thinner string next time I’ll wear it. As you can see I also did not finish the laving holes as I simply didn’t have enough time. Seeing as this bodice will not be machine-washed, I am not too worried about them fraying.

Final Result

ItalianPeasant (5)
Vincenzo Campi (c.1530/1535โ€“1591), “Kitchen” 1580s (part / source)

Here’s a throwback to the painting that inspired this costume.

ItalianPeasant (2)

And here’s the whole outfit together! As you can see I also didn’t have time to make an apron but the overall outfit is really cute. Here I am posing in front of a cooking rack used bu one of the LARP groups at the Ren Fair.

ItalianPeasant (3)

I especially like the poofiness of the sleeves and the shape of the bodice.

ItalianPeasant (1)

Here’s the back, which is quite a bit lower than the paintings but I actually like it. Sadly the camica bunches up a little in the center back. I will possibly make another camica in the future with pleats and a round, low neckline. But that’s a project for another day ๐Ÿ™‚

Thanks again for reading,
~ Mardie


2 thoughts on “16th Centuray Italian Peasant Dress – Part 3: Bodice & Result”

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