Sunday, January 29, 2012

Do I Really Want To Go "Over and Above"?

Recently, on The Italian Showcase, a website dedicated to providing information about Italian Renaissance costume and displaying costumers' efforts to recreate Italian Renaissance attire, the site owner, Bella, announced a new event: a costuming mini-challenge.

Bella's last mini-challenge was held in the fall of 2011 and challenged costumers to create an Italian Renaissance hand-held accessory in no more than one month. The theme did not interest me much, so I did not follow the progress of that challenge very closely. However, the upcoming challenge is called "Over and Above". The object of this challenge is to create, starting no earlier than February 1, at least one cloak, robe, overgown or other Italian Renaissance overgarment by the end of February.

Now it just happens that I've wanted to create a giornea to wear over my versatile gown for years. I even went so far to purchase fabric for the project, but bogged down when I realized that I was not certain how to cut a giornea in a manner that would be flattering and would not fall off of me as I walked. Now just might be the time to use that fabric. I expect to have  sufficient time available, and Reconstructing History carries a giornea pattern.

So my question to all of you is this; should I take part in the "Over and Above" challenge? There's a prize being offered (a gift certificate to the Internet retailer of the victor's choice), but that's not the main reason I'm interested. The idea of finally completing a giornea to wear with my peach brocade gown is why I'm interested. Which is just as well, because if I do this I will engage in as little handwork as possible. Purchased pattern, minimal handwork--I probably don't have much of a chance to win anything in the contest. But I'd have an overgown!

My velvet--wrong and right sides
The brocade of my gown
However, I'm not really sure whether my fabric--a plain fawn-colored cotton velvet (click for larger image with better resolution), is suitable for the role, even with this gold and pearl trim to adorn it. I thought I had bought lining fabric, but now I can't find it, and I'm not sure I'd want to use the stuff I originally bought (it was a fairly bright orange polyester) even if I found it. I'm also wondering whether I want to pay $30 USD to buy a pattern for a garment I might wear only once (for the photographs necessary for the completion of the challenge!), and I have little confidence in my ability to cut the gown in a flattering and authentic manner using only instructions I can find on the Internet. Finally, if I'm going to sign up I have to do so by the end of the month (Tuesday).

So, do any of you have any thoughts about whether I should sign up? If so, let me know in the comments.

EDIT:  (Feb. 5, 2012)  I have decided against participating in the challenge, partly because I have been laid off from my job.  Since I will be actively looking for other employment, we will see whether that will, or will not, give me more time for blogging and costume-related activities.  :-)


  1. I love the Realm of Venus challenges. They inspire me to try new things and give me the kick in the rear I need to keep working on a project. I've even been know to finish a project by the deadline.

    I think you have the best of reasons to join, you have an appropriate garment you *want* to make.

    Come on in. The water's warm and I can hardly wait to see what you create!

  2. I love the challenges too. Its somehow both comforting and motivational to know that other people are doing the same thing as you and deadlines are always good. I'm not participating officially this time since I already have a half finished zimarra that I've been working on for over a year, but I'm going to spend February finishing it up.

    You versatile gown is lovely and I'd love to see what you do with the additional layer.

    1. Thank you both for your comments, and your encouragement!

      I may very well not enter because I'd still need fabric and I can't decide between options. (I need at least 5 yards of lining fabric.) Should I go for the cheap option, or this much cheaper one?

    2. Well, being a big fan of orange, I like them both!

      You might consider an unlined version. I ended up taking the lining out of my loose gown because it was just too heavy to wear. If you were to just bind the seams you might be able to do it with your *ideal* fabric at less cost than a full lining made of something you are less enthusiastic about.

    3. Aurora, I would consider an unlined version, but I'm planning for the giornea to be open-sided. With an open-sided giornea, the wrong side often shows at least a bit, and the wrong side of my velvet is rather coarse--it looks almost like canvas.

  3. I see your point!

    I confess that my besetting sin, fiber snobbery (eeep!), leads me to hate to see you use a synthetic. If you don't mind piecing together two fabrics to get the one you want to show to be in the right places there a couple good lots of orange-range silk on eBay right now too. I can't get the URL to copy and paste here, but the one titled "Lot 6yds dress" works out to less than $5 per yard right now.

    It's probably too pink for your purposes but I thought I'd point it out just in case...

    1. The fiber snob in me hates to use a synthetic, too. (That's one reason I usually stick to early period--I know how and where to find enough 100% wool and linen for my purposes.)

      That being said, I'm reluctant to pay more than $3 a yard for lining fabric because I still expect to pony up $30 for the pattern--that's the only reason I'm even considering the hunter's blaze orange satin. I'll see whether I can find the site you're referring to, though, and check it out. Thanks.

  4. Check out Baroness Briana's write-up of a Giornia she did for Jadwiga. Her sketch worked for me as a pattern.
    You might be interested in her 'basic block' to get the top of the pattern fitted right or use your bodice pattern from the versatile dress as a starting point.
    Regards, Beth Schreiber

    1. Thanks, Beth, and welcome to my corner of the blogosphere.

      I appreciate all the suggestions, but I learned yesterday that I'm being laid off, so I don't anticipate starting any projects that can't be done from my stash for awhile.