Site hosted by Build your free website today!


1488 Italian Garb


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

  Camicia Embellishment

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.


Gamurra - On to the under dress

1488 Italian
Camicia - Gamurra - Maniche - Fazzoletto - Giornea - Hair and Make-up - Cuffia - Stockings - Scarpette - Jewelry
Shirt - Underwear - Farsetto - Maniche - Calze - Giornea - Scarpette - Hat - Accessories