A bit of silly to end the IRCC10

January, the final month!

This month I had to think of another accessory to do as I had finished all the items I had planned to make, I decided on some plague doctor style masks, to commemorate the year that was.

I found a simple pattern online and decided that my masks would be made from buckram, silk, velveteen, some black trims, velvet ribbon and a little black chiffon for the eyes.

I cut the pieces out of buckram and simply glued them to the pieces of fabric, when dry cut them out and again glue was used to assemble. I added trim along the seams and around the eyes, the eyes also were given black chiffon lenses. Finishing was some simple ribbon ties.

A bit of fun to finish off a mammoth challenge.

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December IRCC10 the penultimate month

This month I made a loose style zimarra out of a lovely blue and metallic silk brocade that I have been hoarding for many years, it almost go used last year but it wasn’t until I got the burnt orange fabric I used for the sottana that this outfit really came togther as the orange complimented the silk so well.

The zimmara is a very simple A line. Taken from a pattern in Alcega, but I added one pleat in the centre back for comfort. The body is simply 4 pieces, and then a single high collar. That didn’t leave much fabric so hanging sleeves were out. I instead went with sleeves inspired by the green coat in the fresco The nativity by Zuccari, paired with the ruffled baragoni featured in many of Lavinia Fontanas paintings. I later discovered another paingint that had all these features together so my suppositions to put them all togther were vindicated. This portrait is Girolamo Forni – Portrait of a Lady , it even has the simple A line zimarra!

The gown is lined in black cotton and seams hand bound in black velveteen. The front has hook and eye closures.

I chose not to add any further trims as I think the fabric is beautiful enough without further adornment.

Next up I made a pair of removeable sleeves, as an option to wear with the zimara. They are a orangey bronze shot red silk that tones so well with the orange sottana and the odd mixed metallic of the blue silk brocade.

The sleeves have been slashed using a chisel and a screw punch, and then small closters of 4 black seed beads added to the centres of the patterns. The wrists are bound and slashed by hand. The ties feature gold aglets. I was going to add rings on the inside of the zimarra to attach these sleeves put instead I decided they can just attach to the sottana rings once it’s normal sleeves are removed as both sets would not be worn together, it also allows for more movement and comfort.

The final item I made this month is a long necklace featuring a nice gold cross I rescued off a pair of earrings found in a close out sale. The outfit said it needed a long item so I rummaged and found the cross, some interesting gold wire wrap beads, large glass pearls and red coral.

So Items completed this month are the Zimarra, the optional pair of sleeves and the necklace.

So all my main items are completed for this outfit, next month will be all optional accessories.

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Where did November go?

That month went so quick, and I can not believe it’s December already!!!!

I did manage to get quite a lot of sewing and stuff done for IRCC and last minute I made some pants for C3

It’s been a rough month health wise with much stresses.

I managed to hand tiny hem a lovely silk with gold stripe veil, this took so much patience to roll the slippery fabric and manage the hem without too many kinks.

I got motivated one weekend to make a fan, which turned into two fans as I couldn’t decide on which fabric to use. It is based upon Moroni’s Lady in red. I drew the unusual shape as best I could and cut it out of a cane placemat, the handle was glued on, this was simply a piece of dowel shaved to half round on the end that attaches to the fan. I embroidered in the line line decorations to the silk which was then glued onto the cane, then binding hand sewn around the edge. The handles painted gold and some binding added at the join for neatness and a little bead on the hand end for pretty. I really like how they both turned out.

Next up was my main sottana. I had drafted the pattern many months ago so nevertheless it no longer fit, so redraft happened. Then the bodice was cut from 4 layers, being lining, two internal heavy calico and the outer brocade. Boning channels inside hold cable tie boning as per I usually make. The skirt is a simple square design but cut to give a slight train in back. Hem is bound but not felted as this brocade is quite heavy and I didn’t want to add any further weight to it.

I didn’t leave much fabric for the sleeves, nothing was big enough to cut full length sleeves from, so I cut panes and lined them with a matching silk, then hand sewed them all together with lace and beading. The top panels for the sleeve was ironed into pleats the match the size of the lower panes then sewn to a liner to give a slight puff, then more pearls and binding. Some ties and lacing rings and Sottana with sleeves is completed! This pair of sleeves is planned just for day wear and removeable so another pair will be made to wear with the zimarra which is up next.

I am looking forward to making the zimarra in my luscious blue silk, maybe another partlet for day wear and another pair of sleeves.

So completed this month was a veil, two fans and a sottana with sleeves.

So after all of that I left myself only two days to make something for the other challenge, whoopsy.

My next item for C3 was a pair of pants, I couldn’t locate a full length depiction of Hurrem, so just conjectured that there are many illustrations of Ottoman ladies of that time wearing pants so perhaps she did too.

I found an interesting pattern for some salwar (pants) online and thought I would give them a try. The instructions are here

I did some looking online and saw pictures of ladies with coloured pants so found some nice light blue cotton in the stash lurking and thought yep that will do.

So the instructions nearly broke my brain but I got there in the end, not sure I will ever do them like that again!

I added a tie for the waist with tasselled ends for ease and comfort.

so yep that was November, onto December!

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And now for something different: C3

Just because one costuming challenge never seems enough, I have also entered the Calontir Clothing Challenge or C3 for short, which is running at the same time as the final four months or my yearly IRCC entry, so yes I am working on two major entries at once.

It is almost the same requirements as IRCC but with a few minor differences so I am hoping to complete it OK, I am not really trying to do anything but complete it, not taking the competitive part of it seriously.

For this challenge I am stepping a little bit away from Italy and making an Ottoman styled outfit inspired by the amazing Hurrem Sultan whom I came across in many painting by Titian.

A painting of Hürrem Sultan by a follower of Titian
Portrait of Hurrem Sultan, called Roxelana (c. 1502-1558), bust-length, in a jewelled headdress early 17th century
Portrait by Titian titled La Sultana Rossa, c. 1550

Anyways, first up I did a kamis, or chemise based on an extant one held at the Topkapi Palace museum.

I chose to use a light weight cotton for the kamis as I wanted this for summer comfort wear, the fabric is quite sheer and light so it should be great for hot days.

This is one I have made before and I find it very comfortable.

The side panels are pieced together which is quite a puzzle and then sewn to the middle section, after which the neckhole is cut and finished.

I sewed the seams by machine but then chose to hand flat fell all those seams, and yes there quite a lot of them, and then I also hand sewed the neckline, with teeny tiny hand rolling and the hems on the sleeves and bottom.

I used a pearl bead to make a tiny button for the neckline and hand sewed a loop for closure.

So yeah a week later one shirt or Kamis done.

Feline Sewing Inspector on duty today was Miss Charlotte
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IRCC10 October quick update

This month saw a resurge in my motivation for this challenge, I have dedicated a lot of hours to it!

Started off slowly with a simple square necked chemise in a style I have made many times previously. It is a light weight cotton out of my fabric collection but once it was constructed, I thought it very plain indeed. So as it was a little too late to add much in the way of embridery to it, I just did some simple stitching around the neckline facing and cuffs. Finished off with some needle done button loops and simple fabric buttons on the cuffs.

cutting chemise
edge stitched

Next up I made a very quick and easy gathered underskirt out of a beige cotton brocade that has been lurking in a box for a while waiting to be dyed into something more me, but I decided it was fine for an underneath layer as it was. There was limited meterage so a skirt was all it would have made anyway. A bit of matching trim around the felted hem and it was done.


Then the partlet happened.

I hadn’t decided on what to actually make for this and was trawling through pinterest when I happened upon a couple that interested me, one was blackwork embroidery, which I am totally not patient enough for and then there was the picture of Eleanora di Toledo by Alessandro Allori, c. 1572 with a ruffley gathered partelet with loads of beading and spangles on it.

I rummaged and found some very light I think habotai silk and some linen cotton blend, and thought long and hard over several days about how to best construct it.

Once I had the plan in my head I set out and a week or so later, and over 50 hours of hand work clocked up, it was done! So three items COMPLETED this month! Next month with be the main sottana and maybe more.

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Ramblings on costume challenges

So I have received quite a number of messages asking for advice on how to proceed in one of these costuming challenges that have been so popular recently.

Firstly i am kind of stunned that anyone would ask me for advice as I don’t consider myself an accomplished person or any sort of expert!

So this is just my ramblings on the subject and I know there will more than likely be a great number of people who disagree with what I say but hey that’s life.

The most asked thing is “OK I entered, now what do I do? I have so many ideas!”

Write down your ideas before they fall out of your left ear and are lost forever. Be concise, draw diagrams, even print out inspiration pictures and annotate them. Believe me, in 3 or 4 months these notes will be invaluable to remembering where you are headed in your challenge. Keep a record of where you find your information and inspiration such as websites or books, these can easily be forgotton and you may wants to go back to recheck things later.

Make yourself a timeline. List the items and when you plan to get them finished by, take into account you will more than likely required to do at least monthly check ins and sometimes this includes having an item finished each month so check the rules.

Know your timeframe, when can you start and when do you have to finish. Write this on your notes, I can’t remember how many times I have to go check the websites as I can’t remember how long I have to go!

Select your materials, tools and make a shopping list for anything you need. Collect or make your patterns, if you are allowed to make them before time starts. Put them into bundles i.e chemise notes, pattern and fabric in one bundle, sottana notes, pattern and fabric in another, you get my meaning right? I work from skin out on my outfits so I pile them up this way to prevent having to move stuff around my limited space too much.

OK next question, “how do I keep motivated?”

This one is really up to you, I personally am so practised at these challenges now that my mind just goes to, “the end of month is coming have I done what I needed too?”

I used to have a group of friends that would come around most Sundays and we motivated each other, but having moved away I lost that and now am one my own but I manage to keep going. So basically you need to figure out what will work for you, sorry this is a hard one to answer.

“How do I afford the correct fabrics?” “Do I have to use the expensive stuff?”

Well this is another hard one! It depends on the challenges rules, is it required to use only period fabric, or are you allowed to substitute more modern replacements?

I have a substantial fabric stash that I built when we had a better income but now I can’t afford to go fabric shopping so am limited to using what I have on hand, most of which is not considered “period” I don’t use linen as my skin reacts to it and comes out in nasty itchy red welts, but I can use a linen/cotton blend so I substitute whatever I can that gives the correct look for the outfit I am making.

Some of my favourite pieces have actually been made from tablecloths or curtains, which fibre wise are not period but they give the right effect.

Go with what you can afford, seems the best thing to say here.

“How do I maximise my points?”

I am totally the wrong person to ask this question to as I don’t enter any challenge to win it. I am not a competitive person, and just do this stuff for my own enjoyment.

I guess it comes down to how you view it:

Competition: The act of competing against others


Challenge: An instigation intending to convince a person to do something they otherwise would not do.

I personally enter these costuming challenges to stretch myself and hopefully manage to learn something new or do something better, it’s about my growth as a seamstress, I am not about gaining recognition or awards. I just want to relax and enjoy my sewing.

However I totally respect that some of you are competitive and are focused on the end results or getting everything as period accurate as you can. Fantastic, great, good on you! I cheer you on from my little corner and really hope you success!

I think that answers most of the general queries, I have messaged you all individually as well.

Best of luck to you all! Happy sewing!

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ircc10 The September update

so yeah I managed a hat this month.

It’s a nice hat, based on a portrait by Moroni,

and one I have never made before so it took a lot of thought and planning before I actually did it.

I took a lot of photos of the process so I could remember how to do it again 🙂

I am pretty happy with how it turned out, although were I to make it again I would cut the crown larger to make it taller.

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IRCC 10 August update



Two items completed for my husbands outfit this month.

First up the doublet. I decided on very simple black silk sleeves with some pinking as the body of the doublet was very decorative and the sleeves really needed to be plain to compliment this.

I had some black silk in my stash that was just big enough to get the pair of sleeves out of and I then did a very simple cutting pattern using my usually mallet and chisel method.

doublet sleeves slasheddoublet sleevs with chalk grid for cutting


I decided to baste the completed sleeves in so if I ever want to make them removable in the future I can do so. The cuff are finished with slashed binding.

Buttons are some from my stash that have black velvet centres and they are a nice finish to the doublet.


Next item was the Capotto that I drafted from the MM vol 2 book (pg224) As per other items I cut first a muslin and fitted it , some adjustment to the arm holes was required to allow for the doublet to be worn underneath., other than that I lengthened it to bring it down as long as the doublet.

capotto cutting out

The fabric I had selected was not enough meterage, I was amazed at how much this needed! The only other black I had that was enough was some plain cotton drill, so I had to use that instead of the linen, as this was the first time making this item I was happy to go with the cheaper fabric in case he doesn’t end up liking the piece. My lining fabric was also not enough and I had no alternative that was big enough so this became unlined. Originally I though about fur lining or facing by again no budget for purchase and nothing in stash so I went with black velveteen facings and trim along the edge.

The whole piece came together quite easily. When it came to the sleeves I added some cuff decoration by weaving black velvet ribbon in a simple weave pattern as I had in my stash a lot of short pieces of ribbon.

I am quite happy with how this turned out and am considering making another in nicer fabric with lining in the future.

capotto completed frontcapotto completed sidecapotto completd back

Next up will be a hat, but that’s next month. Along with finally starting on mine if I can eventually actually decide on what I want!

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IRCC10 the July update

This month was very slow on the sewing front again, but I did manage to complete the second pair of Calcon (pants) for Adrian’s outfit. They were drafted from the Modern Maker book 2, and with just a little bit of altering turned out nicely and he says they are very comfortable.

Next up is his doublet. Again a new pattern I drafted using the barra system and the pattern on page 90 of the Modern Maker book 2. I cut it from calico for a test fitting and did a few minor alterations, including adding length as Adrian wanted it longer.

The outer fabric I gave Adrian free reign to pick whatever he wanted from my fabric stash and he wanted this faux silk, ok yes polyester, it is black background with embroidered flowers and leaves.

4 layers were cut, with assistance for my daughter. 2 canvas, cotton lining and the outer fabric.

Construction has been done mostly on machine, my hands are just being ridiculously difficult right now as I lost my compression gloves somewhere which has meant extra pain.

The body of the doublet is completed but the sleeves I keep changing my mind. As the fabric is so patterned I feel the sleeves need to be nice but not too busy and hence my indecision. Also I am unsure if I am going to permanently attached or make them lace on.

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IRCC 10 Pants….


This month I managed a pair and a half of pants for my husbands outfit. I had a load of pain and movement issues so sewing was very sporadic. Also photos are crap as my old phone has died and my tablet does not take good pictures, I will replace the photos once I get a new phone.

The pattern was one I drafted in the first month of this challenge from the Modern Maker book, The Freyle 1588 Calcon.

I cut them out of a heavy drill for the first pair, my husband has requested two pairs, one for general day wear and another for nicer occasions.The drill was not wide enough, and there was no option for more fabric so I took out some of the width and they are just not quite as full. Once these were constructed, I tried them on him he was very happy and now the second pair are from another, mystery fibre content fabric from my stash, but this pair will be lined with some red cotton.




I finished off the Second pair of pants as well. Yay  things are happening! Might get totally motivated and get onto the doublet soonish

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