The Renaissance Project – Lucrezia

So, continuing the series about last Halloween (just in time for this year’s)…
The dress that I wore – the Lucrezia dress:


 After completing my sister’s dress, I turned my attention to what I would be wearing. I searched and sorted through a ton of portraits and paintings, looking for just the right dress for inspiration. It happened when I came upon this image:
The Betrothal by Meister des Jahrhunderts, c. 1470.

I fell in love with the dress the bride is wearing. It was one of the few examples I could find of a dress that didn’t feature front lacing which was something that I desperately wanted to avoid for fear of not being supportive enough.

So I sketched out the dress to take with me to the fabric store. There I picked up some gold trim reminiscent of what the bride is wearing and looked around for a suitably shimmery red fabric, but couldn’t find anything that was within my price range.

Going home, I sorted through my stash and found just what I had been looking for: three and a half yards of a dark candy apple red satin (at least, I think it’s satin – I’m terrible at identifying fabric). I’d bought it almost two years earlier when it was on huge clearance at Joann’s. I believe I got it for around $2.50/yd.


I started working on October 18. I draped a bodice muslin on my duct-tape dress form, Barbara. I couldn’t really fit the pattern on myself so I had to approximate and eyeball the fit in the mirror when I tried it on.

When it looked right, I cut out two more layers – fashion fabric and some leftover sturdy plaid – and sandwiched it all together. The bodice had two pieces, front and back, that were almost identical. Both sides were left open for lacing.

When that’s done, I finish the seams all the way around.

At this point it’s lacking support so I add some zip ties on the front, back, and sides. I put five lacing rings on each side (jewelry toggle clasps) and cartridge-pleat the skirt front and back to the bottom of the bodice. Once it’s on, I sew up the sides until about four or five inches below the bottom of the bodice and hem the bottom so I can wear heels with it.
It’s finally to a point where I can try it on to check the fit and I’m incredibly happy with how it’s turned out so far. It was a lot of guess-and-checking up to that point but my estimates had been right on! I don’t have it pictured, but I was able to sew on the trim around the neckline pretty fast that night and the dress was done! Unfortunately, by that point, I had misplaced the cut of fabric I had set aside for sleeves so I had to skip them. (Of course, I found it in a bag about three days after Halloween.)
The other garment that I needed was a camicia, which was very quick to make. If I remember correctly, I followed this tutorial which was quite easy and straightforward.
It’s floppy and loose and long and flowy and I love it! I accidentally made it a bit too long so I’ll have to re-hem it eventually, but it’s great for now. The sleeves have ties on the cuffs but other than that it’s nothing too extraordinary.
20141031_144728 20141031_144802
The final product. On Halloween – rolling up my sleeves to get some final decorating done.

Final Numbers

Fabric: Satin and cotton

Pattern: None

Year: c. 1500

Notions: Thread, lacing rings, white and gold trim, black ribbon

Hours to complete: Seven days.

Total cost: $15 for fabric. $2 for trim. Everything else from stash. Altogether, about $17.

Post Zero: Master Post

Part One: Background and Research

Part Two: Caterina (my sister’s outfit)

Part Three: Lucrezia (my outfit)

Part Four: Lorenzo (my brother’s outfit)

Part Six: Wearing it All (Halloween 2014)

6 thoughts on “The Renaissance Project – Lucrezia

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s