Julie's Venetian Courtesan

Who doesn't want to be a Dangerous Beauty?

Monday, January 10, 2005

Camica Adventures

Last night I decided to work on something. ANYTHING! I am just SO excited that I’m busting to start, even though I know I’m not ready for the real dress yet (besides needing some sewing practice, I also need to lose the 10 lbs I gained over Thanksgiving/Christmas). So, I decided to start the camica.

I will confess that I skipped work today because I am "sick", and (even though this wasn’t my plan) I ended up fabric shopping. I scoured the fabric store for a suitable camica fabric. Their linen was far too coarse for my liking, and the straight up cotton muslin was boring (i.e. a lot like my pre-existing chemise). I also had a preconceived notion that I’d get something translucent for my camica. That seems deliciously naughty and courtesan-like. Unfortunately, most translucent materials I found were some sort of polyester or poly blend. Which means Hot. And since my dress is gonna be velvet (its red cotton velveteen --more on this later), I want to keep other things to natural fibers and lighter weights to make it more bearable to wear if its warmish. And the Maryland RenFest (where I get the most use out of my costumes) can be unbearably warm. This will most likely end up being my autumn dress. ;-)

I was losing hope on my natural fiber translucent fabric dream (couldn’t afford silk). But then, in the home decorating section, I happened upon 100% cotton decorator’s gauze. Yes, it’s gauzy. It’s pretty friggin' see-through. And I love it. It’s like very thin linen, since you can see all the weave details. 4 1/8 yards came home with me for camica goodness. $2/yard.

So, Monday night I started cutting camica bits out. I used the pattern on The Realm of Venus website, altered a bit for my preferences and cut out in a different order. I made the body 38 inches long (falls somewhere between my knees and ankles--i'm short) and the sleeves an excessive 40 long inches from the shoulder. I wanted sleeve length for poof. And to approximate a cool “tuck-chemise-under-the-shoulder-strap” effect I saw in a painting for when I don’t wear my detachable dress sleeves. See below:

Marietta Robusti (La Tintoretta):
Venetian Woman

I clean finished all the edges of my cuts with my awesome new sewing machine (Christmas present from hubby Janome 3500), using techniques I learned in my beginners’ sewing class. Very proud of myself. I felt the clean finishing was necessary, as it is gauze. And gauze is, afterall, prone to fraying.

fraying gauze vs. clean finish

I started sewing bits together, but really only managed to attach sleeves to gussets before it was bed time. More later.

*since originally posting this, I've found a painting that supports the translucent camica idea. Go me! See below:

Giovanni Antonio Fasolo: Fresco:
Detail from "Games" (from
The Realm of Venus)
translucent camica sleeves


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