There are currently two patterns available online that are conjectures on how to make a camicia. A Late 15th C. Italian Chemise originally found in Dress in Italian Painting 1460-1500, by Elizabeth Birbari and How to Sew a 16th Century Camicia based on the notes found in Cut My Cote by Dorothy Burnham.
There seem to be very few pictures of womem in their camicias that haven't been attributed to the imagination of the painter. Therefore, I had to look at some of the overdresses as well as the few pictures of camicias.
|From Carpaccio's 1496 The Healing of the Madman. Camacias hang from poles to dry. This is probably the main inspiration for Barbari's pattern. You can't see it very well in this picture, but both camacias have square gussets (folded into triangles) and the one on the right has an interesting pleat under the arm, that Barbari has included in her pattern. The arm seam looks closer to a raglan sleeve than the square inset sleeve Barbari gives. Closer to the sleeve pattern in Cut My Cote.|
|Botticelli's Portrait of a Lady (believed to be Smeralda Brandini) painted c. 1470-1475. While an overdress, it gives an interesting idea into how the camicia may be constructed. I am going to attempt to pleat my camacia to a neckband in the manner of this overdress. Not quite sure how to achieve the perpendicular pleats on the shoulders, but I'm going to give it a try.|
|This is from Botticelli's La Primavera (1477). While not undisputable proof of what a camicia would look like, it gives a good idea. While most people say this is a camacia, whether out of Botticelli's fertile imagination or not, there is another painting by Botticelli, The third panel of The Story of Nastagio degli Onesti, that has a woman wearing a dress that is very similar in style to the supposed camacia. Either way, it can be used a possible style for a camacia.|
|Ecole de' Roberti c. 1482 Predella of Stories of Christ: 3. Road to Calvary (Gemäldegalerie, Dresden).
I just found this. It looks like its the only layer she is wearing and considering the scene seems to be a hurried departure, I have to assume this is a camacia. Again, I could be wrong, but at the very least its another good possibility for the correct look.
|Andrea del Verrocchio "Death of Francesca Pitti Turmabuoni" c. 1470-1479. If this is a camacia it seems to have the open, ungathered neck that some of the men's shirts have and that show up in some later paintings of camacias|
There appears to be pearl-like embellishments on the edge of the camacias in several paintings.
|This one is c. 1490 by Ghirlandaio.|
|Here is another camacia with the pearl-like embellishments. This is from a manuscript about Astronomy written towards the end of the 15th Centery.|
It was debated whether these embellishments were actually pearls or a knot-like embroidery stitch. It was stated that since the camacias would be washed the most, and the harsh washing methods they had back then, it is unlikely that these were real pearls. Since I can find no evidence of gem embellished undergarments any time before the 17th Century, I went looking for a knot-like embroidery stitch. I was directed to the double knot stitch also known as the Palestrina Stitch. The reversed Palestrina, suitable for edging a camacia neckline, is also known as the Pearl stitch.
So this is what I am going to do. I am going to cut the 7 yards into a 40" wide piece and a 19" wide piece. Then I'm going to cut the 7 yard 40" wide piece into two 3 1/2 yard long pieces and sew them together to make 3 1/2 yards of 80" wide material. Then the 19" wide piece is going to be cut to my arm length. I will then sew three pieces together to make a 57" wide sleeve (or 28 1/2 wide doubled over). If I decide this sleeve is too full, I just take out one section and I have a 38" wide sleeve. Or adjust the piece according.
March 16, 2003 - Well I caught that SuperFlu that was going around and I lost a whole weeks worth of sewing! *pout* But I was feeling better yesterday and spent most of the day working on my camacia. Luckily I had gotten the linen washed, ironed and cut into pieces before I took ill. The last thing I did as I succumbed to the flu was force myself to pin and sew the straight seam that made the body 80" wide.
I used the measurements from Baroness Briana's site and cut out the neck piece and the two rectangles where sleeves should go. Unfortunately I tend to use a very small seam allowance when sewing and I forget that most patterns expect a 1/2" to 3/4" seam allowance. Once I sewed the sleeves in and pleated the neckline, the sleeves tended to fall too far off my shoulders and the armscye was bigger than I wanted it. So I went back and added another 1/2" seam allowance to the sleeves and now it fits comfortably on my shoulders. I have decided to leave the armscye alone until I make the bodice of the gamurra (underdress). If its uncomfortable then I will resew the armscye.
I really like the 3.5 oz. linen from www.fabrics-store.com. Even though I have 7 yards of almost 60" wide material used in the camacia, its very light. I love how voluminous the 80" wide body is (160" around minus seam allowance). I can't wait until I get the gamurra done so I can see how the camacia puffs out from under it. And its so soft (once its been laundered). If the linen they used in period was more fine than this stuff, I can understand why they didn't use silk for the pure decadence of it. The linen would be sinfully decadent all on its own.
I only need to repleat the neckline (the pleating string keeps breaking), sew on the neckline facing and then hem the sleeves and hemline. Then I can start the embroidery around the neckline. I hope to be able to take pictures of the non-embellished camacia this thursday, if my mother brings her camera and then I should be able to post them to the site Friday or Saturday. Now to order the linen for the male camacia.
March 17, 2003 - Pleating the neckline is a pain in the butt. I stayed up an hour past my bedtime, but its finally pleated, and I don't thinks its going anywhere. Part of the problem is that my sewing machine is sick. I need to take it to the repair place it seems. I can't get the tension to change no matter what I do. But I finally got two rows of pleating stitch in the neckline and pleated the neckline(despite having to jury rig a couple of sections that refused to be one continuous string and/or gather beyond a certain point).
I gingerly tried it on to see where the neckline lay. It may be a little more gathered than I want it, but Im not messing with it anymore. I think once I get the binding in place the neckline will probably fall where I want it to. I added a third line of stitching in the middle of the first two, to set the pleat, but due to the tension issue, I could still move the pleats around.
I pinned the inside edge of the binding and machine sewed it in place. I was able to use the long thin piece of fabric that I had cut out to make the neckline in the first place. I used the smallest stitch my machine makes, so now the pleats should stay where they are. I don't have a clock in my sewing room, so I didn't realize what time it was. I will have to finish the binding tomorrow, which I plan on doing by hand anyway.
March 21, 2003 - I know I promised pictures but this @(#*$! flu still has a grip on me. After staying up late Monday to get the pleating set, I ended up staying in bed all day Tuesday. I was still feeling very icky on Wednesday, so I went to work for half a day and then came home to die. I was feeling better yesterday afternoon, but the local yarn/thread store is only open late on Thursday nights and I needed to get the silk thread to embellish the camacia neckline, plus a few other items I didn't want to wait a whole nother week to get. So by the time I got home I had enough time to eat and clear out my email box, before going to bed. But the weekend is ahead of me, so hopefully I will make a good start on sewing the facing down tonight, and maybe we can dig out the battery eating camera for a few shots this weekend. I can't wait to get my tax return back so I can get a decent camera of my own, instead of having to wait for mother to visit with hers.
March 23, 2003 - Yeah! The neckline is all done. It puckers a little when I pull it into a square (as will happen when I put the gamurra over it) but other than that its fairly decent. I just need to hem the sleeves and bottom, and then I will put it back through the wash before doing the embroidery at the neckline (It picked up this nasty brown sludge from somewhere near my sewing machine, but I can't figure out where). I haven't had a chance to go to the store to buy batteries for the power hungry camera, so no pics today. We shall try again for next Thursay when Mommy Dearest visits with her lovely Olympus.
March 30, 2003 - I have the sleeves hemmed but I am having a little trouble getting the bottomed hemmed where I want it. I have a hem line marker (bottle of powder attached to a yard stick on a stand with a handpumper) but the powder is white and so is my linen. I will just keep pinning it until I get it where I want it. Its Wrestlemania day so getting Darling to help is out of the question.
April 3, 2003 - The bottom hem is just not going well at all. I finally got it all pinned (a week of two hour days?!? But then I forgot I was working with 160" of hem), but when I tried it on the hem was not even by a long shot. Too long in back and because of the way I did the box pleats under the arms, that part of the material is a lot shorter when I wear it. I really wanted to be done with everything but the embroidery by now, but I haven't even started the embroidery. My mother is coming over tonight, so I will either get her to wear it while I hem, or talk my boyfriend, who is only a little taller than me, to wear it. But getting him to stand still for long will be interesting. Unfortunately I think that Mother may be too short but I might be able to get away with hemming it to floor length on her. We shall see. At any rate, she should have remembered the camera this time (I called her last night to remind her and she said she put it next to the keys), so HOPEFULLY I will finally be able to get some pictures up.
April 7, 2003 - Pictures Finally!!!
I have decided to wait on hemming the the bottom until I make the bodice. After a week plus of cursing and screaming, I finally put the thing on my mother and hemmed it to her. Then I tried it on and remembered that the bodice would be pulling the material under the sleeves up, so I put my hand about where I figured the cut of the bodice will go and, sure enough, the hem rose up on the sides *sigh* All that work for nothing. So I temporarilly hemmed the camacia and have thrown it in the wash with Darling's linen for his shirt, and some synthropol to get the rest of the sizing out. I will then begin embellishing the neckline
Gamurra - On to the under dress
Camicia - Gamurra - Maniche - Fazzoletto - Giornea - Hair and Make-up - Cuffia - Stockings - Scarpette - Jewelry
Shirt - Underwear - Farsetto - Maniche - Calze - Giornea - Scarpette - Hat - Accessories