1560s Italian Overgown – Chiaretta di Fiore

East Kingdom Wiki: https://wiki.eastkingdom.org/index.php?title=Chiaretta_di_Fiore

Full Documentation: https://www.kitsclothingcollection.com/1350/ 

The veste (pl: vesti) is a style of gown worn over the square-necked sottana in the second half of the sixteenth century. In Florence, the veste is typified by a fitted bodice and full skirt, partially closed at the waist to reveal the ornate decorations of the gown beneath. The veste could be worn in summer or winter and could be layered beneath an over-gown or coat for extra warmth. As with other noblewomen’s garments in 16th century Florence, vesti were made of fine materials and richly decorated to demonstrate status and wealth. 

The intent of this project was to construct a veste in the style of 1560s Florence using available period-style needles. The veste was chosen for this project due to the logical progression of skill building from under-gown to over-gown. Prior to the start of this project, I had no experience with this style of gown, having focused primarily on perfecting the construction of the sottana in previous projects.

Unfortunately, the period-style needles that I was able to locate were larger in diameter than a modern needle, which caused difficulty sewing through the tightly woven silk. The diameter of the needle left a large hole in the fabric with each stitch. In addition, the needles were not strong enough for the force required to stitch through such dense fabric and the needles bent so easily that it felt like I was sewing with wet spaghetti. About halfway through the construction of the bodice, I noticed pain in my hands, wrists, and arms from the effort of sewing with the soft period-style needles. 

Ultimately, the project was only partially successful, as the period-style needles were so poorly suited to the needs of the project that they had to be replaced with modern needles in order to complete the gown. However, the resulting garment is one that I am very satisfied with and the overall success of the veste encourages me to explore the style further in the future.

Website: https://www.kitsclothingcollection.com/ 

40 thoughts on “1560s Italian Overgown – Chiaretta di Fiore

    1. Thank you! I loved sharing the details of the project that you couldn’t see at my elevation.

    1. I had to finagle a dress hook because there would have been no point to the contrast lining if I didn’t show it off!

    1. Thank you so much. There’s so many tiny details that I wanted to show off, but I could fit it all into my docs and video!

  1. I absolutely adore this gown, it is just so lovely and looks just like it came out of a painting!

    1. <3 That's the biggest compliment I could possibly receive, as that's what I am trying to accomplish! <3

  2. Great job – and I loved that detail of being able to hold up the back hem to keep it out of the muck! I had never seen a back view of this type of gown before.

  3. The whole outfits is wonderful. And I hear you on the period sewing needles, I tried using Viking bronze double-pointed needles to knit with, and it did not go well.

    1. It’s frustrating, but at the same time, it helped me to understand why tools are constantly improved upon!

  4. You have an amazing level of sewing skill. I am a seamstress also, and am highly impressed with your attention to detail. Hope to see your veste for real when we start having live events again.

    1. Thank you! I’m sure you’ll recognize me the next time I’m out in this gown – it’s definitely a stand out garment!

  5. Beautiful work! I love that you made all your own trim! I loved the video, but I look forward to seeing this lovely garment ( and you as well) as soon as it is safe to do so. Your work is so inspiring!

  6. This is so beautiful. The detail work on this piece is amazing. And the handmade trim is too cool!

  7. Of the many beautiful details, I love the trim the most. Thanks for describing how you made it. That’s so much work for decoration!

  8. I knew I had seen this before. 🙂 The video describing your process was great. I do really like how this project for your elevation came out. Thank you.

    1. Thank you Your Majesty. It wad supposed to be my A&S entry last year, but my vigil sorta took up the day instead. 😉

  9. I’ve seen the gown in person, but it was really great to read through your very thorough documentation. Seeing your inspiration images and following the thought process for how you went from picture to dress was really impressive.

  10. Gorgeous work!
    Two questions –
    Do you think the silk you are using for the project is comparable to period silk? I have yet to weave cloth down at modern (or even period) fine weights, but the hand of handwoven cloth is very different from modern machine woven cloth. Could that have made a difference with the needles? (generally a looser weave, so easier to hand sew…sometimes)
    I also wonder if period needles were tempered differently. Potentially that could add some strength to the needle itself.
    Really beautiful. I hope to admire in person some day.

    1. Honestly, I don’t know for sure. I did not research this specific topic. Silk weaving in Florence was at its peak in the 16th century, but I don’t recall a sample of extant taffeta from this period to compare. However, the reproduction needles I used were definitely too thick for the silk taffeta that I used. It probably would have been fine in a looser woven fabric, such as a linen.

  11. This garment continues to blow me away. It is so aesthetically wonderful. I applaud the work you put into the creation of that trim. Gorgeous.

  12. When I saw this at last year’s A&S Champs, my jaw literally dropped. This dress proved to me everything the society would do and create and be, and it is magnificent.

  13. That is an absolutely stunning gown, and the amount of work that went into the making is mind-boggling. I also really appreciated reading your thorough documentation — it answered some questions I’ve had about some of the period techniques and tools, and gave me some ideas for new experiments of my own…thank you!

  14. AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!! KIT!!! This is AHMAZING! Your skill with technique and documentation is so inspiring. And I *always* learn something from you!
    Thank you for sharing your work!

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