A linen colleto or coverciere
A colleto can mean both a collar, a partlet and a jerkin (Landini 2005: 250). The partlet is the most interesting item when it comes to female fashion. It started as a rather unornamented shawl-like piece of garb, often of very fine silk, and standard day wear pieces of linen. Some were worn on top of the bodice, some underneath. The former seems to have been common in the early Renaissance, while the latter became more common in the 16.th century.
Partlets, or coverciere, in Italy are thought to be a response to decrees ordering women to cover their generous neck openings, for example a 1464 decree from Florence (Thompson, Festive Attyre). But the very fine silk used for the earliest partlets didn’t cover up a woman – if anything, it draw attention to the chest area rather than concealing it. Throughout the 16.th century partlets became more ornamented, embroidered, pleated, braided. It became custom to wear them under the bodice, to veil low necklines, and they were fastened under the arms and at the front by ribbons or chords (Landini 2005: 250). Late in the century they also got collars and/or ruffs, but unlike Spanish and Flemish fashion, Italian women still showed off the chest. Eventually, the fashion evolved into free-standing ruffs and “millstones” typical for the 17.th century (Earnshaw 1985: 15).
Eleonora di Toledo de Medici
Ruffled partlets shown on a washing line
The maiden quarter, ca. 1588/89, Alessandro Allori (Palazzo Pitti, Florence)
To create my coverciere I chose to use a plain white, medium weight linen that I had in my fabric stash. It may be a little heavy for this piece but I feel it should wear quite wear, and add a little warmth for cooler days.,
I began by creating the collar with the ruffle. I measure the required neck and cut two strips of linen to length adding on turnings.
I then cut the ruffle at 4 times the length of the the collar. I have hand hemmed the ruffle, then sewn two lines of loose stitching to gather the ruffle, which I have then sewn into the collar by sandwiching it between the two collar pieces..
To create the body part I cut a rectangle of linen to size, I have added extra length at the front to enable the partlet to come down below the bust line. I split the front up to the neckline and cut the oval shaped neck hole out. I then tried the linen on and pinned the shape of the shoulder slope.
I seamed the shoulder slopes and then trimmed and flat felled them down to give a neat appearance.
I then turned and hemmed the front openings.
The collar was then attached and hand finished on the inside, again to give a neat appearance as when worn the coverciere may open to show the inside of the collar.
The final edges of the piece have then been rolled and hand hemmed.
To finsh the piece I have added cotton tape ties to the sides and front. I chose to use cotton tape rather than making tapes from linen as I felt these better reflected the use of ribbons as was mentioned in Moda a Firenze, but modern ribbons being too open in the weave tend to fray. The cotton tape is also inexpensive and easy to replace if they get broken.
I am very happy with the way this piece has turned out and I look forward to wearing it in the future.
Moda a Firenze 1540-1580: Lo Stile Di Eleonora Di Toledo E La Sua Influenza
Landini, Roberta Orsi
Edizioni Polistampa; Bilingual edition (28 May 2007)
Lace in Fashion, from the sixteenth to the twentieth century,
Earnshaw, Pat (1985)
B. T. Batsford Ltd. London