Ascension Day

Originally I started this Ascension Day project just for the apron. But once I got the apron done, I figured I might as well have the rest of the outfit that goes with it! Ascension Day Outfit, 1590's Venice at MorganDonner.comIf you are unfamiliar with the project so far, I am recreating an outfit based on an image in Degli Habiti antichi et moderni di diverse parti del mondo. This was a famous fashion book written and illustrated by Cesare Vecellio in 1590 (link to 1598 reprint). He was from Venice, and if we compare his depicted fashions of Venice with other contemporary works, it seems to be quite accurate and helpful. But as he covers areas farther from Italy, the drawings become increasingly fanciful, since his information about those outfits tends to be not from first hand viewing, but from drawings and descriptions from friends and associates who saw them. Fortunately for me, the outfit I am interested in IS near Venice and is descriptively titled “Peasant Women in the Region Surrounding Venice, Seen in Venice on the Day of the Ascension of Our Lord, a Venetian Holiday and Fair”. The 1590 edition of this book was published with both Latin and Italian descriptions, but incase you can’t read either, there was a reprint in 2008, featuring English translations by Rosalind Jones and Margaret F. Rosenthal. I did not think it appropriate  to repost their entire page of translation (go buy the book!  It’s super fab!) so instead, here’s my poor translation of the original Italian to English, with the help of google and Florio’s dictionary.  If you want to see a whole lot more about my efforts to translate the Italian, Latin, and French versions of this text go about halfway down the apron page.

Peasant women of land round about in Venetia, whom you see on the day of Venetia ‘Ascension from N. Lord.
They wear such over their heads some straw hats made ​​with beautiful fine art, and with feathers of different colors, under from ‘which they have their hair fixed exceedingly well under a net of threads of’ gold. They carry some Bavari (cape about the neck of any garment) wrinkled, and above a veil of silk or other thin cloth. They wear a dress of bombast, or wool of different colors with some silver-gilt pins above the bust, with gards of velvet or other sorts of silk, with corals or beads of silver turn/round the neck, or chest, and thus so down the seams of the sleeves. Above this they wear a round savegard of silk, or other sort of very thin cloth, accommodated with some binding rosettes made to needle with silk braiding/cord/ribbon; are encircled with a belt of crimson velvet or black; they wear socks worked with white shoes worked, and then the pianelle (similar to pattens) over, go very to order/method/form, and appearance is very delightful to look upon.

Let’s go from top to bottom!

Ascension Day Outfit, 1590's Venice at MorganDonner.com

“They wear over their heads straw hats made ​​with beautiful fine art, and with feathers of different colors…”

 

Ascension Day Outfit, 1590's Venice at MorganDonner.com

I did not make or weave the hat in any way, just purchased it online. The feathers were a gift from my mother, and the silk band was left over from the Moroni outfit. The little circles on the ends of the band are pewter acorns, though I’d love to replace them someday with bells.

Ascension Day Outfit, 1590's Venice at MorganDonner.com

“…under from which they have their hair fixed exceedingly well under a net of threads of gold.”

Ascension Day Outfit, 1590's Venice at MorganDonner.com

I made two nets, the first was round and involved actual net-making. The second one was square and made with a series of simple overhand knots. They are pinned onto a firm pillow, and the cord is some sort of modern stretchy concoction from Joann Fabrics.

Ascension Day Outfit, 1590's Venice at MorganDonner.com

“They wear some Bavari (cape about the neck of any garment) wrinkled, and above a veil of silk or other thin cloth.” I believe that the Bavari in this context is a partlet with lots of gathering at the neck, possibly with smocking. I actually did make a silk ‘veil’ to go over this but I drastically over estimated how big it would need to be, and found it quite unusable on picture day. My lovely friend Maddy saved the day by letting me borrow one of her linen cloths.

Ascension Day Outfit, 1590's Venice at MorganDonner.com

“They wear a dress of bombast, or wool of different colors… with gards of velvet or other sorts of silk…” My dress is made of a light wool with grey silk guards/gards. The dress has it’s own page with lots of construction pictures.

Ascension Day Outfit, 1590's Venice at MorganDonner.com

“…with some silver-gilt pins above the bust…” My pins are pewter cast with soap stone since silver-plating isn’t in my skill set yet.

Ascension Day Outfit, 1590's Venice at MorganDonner.com

“…with corals or beads of silver round the neck, or chest, and thus so down the seams of the sleeves.” I probably should have picked either silver or coral for both necklace and sleeves, instead of splitting them. :p

Ascension Day Outfit, 1590's Venice at MorganDonner.com

“Above this they wear a round savegard of silk, or other sort of very thin cloth…” A savegard is a type of protective overskirt, and you can learn more than you probably ever want to about mine here.

Ascension Day Outfit, 1590's Venice at MorganDonner.com

“…accommodated with some binding rosettes made to needle with silk ribbon…”

Ascension Day Outfit, 1590's Venice at MorganDonner.com

“…encircled with a belt of crimson velvet or black…”

Ascension Day Outfit, 1590's Venice at MorganDonner.com

“they wear socks worked with white shoes worked…” I think that by ‘worked’, Vecellio means embellished in some fashion, but it’s hard to say. Construction information here.

 

Ascension Day Outfit, 1590's Venice at MorganDonner.com

“…and then the pianelle (similar to pattens) over…” Their construction page is here.

Ascension Day Outfit, 1590's Venice at MorganDonner.com

“…go very orderly and neat, and their appearance is very delightful to look upon.”

 

Ascension Day Outfit, 1590's Venice at MorganDonner.com

The original print is black and white, but to help me visualize all the different elements, I colored it in.

Ascension Day Outfit, 1590's Venice at MorganDonner.com Ascension Day Outfit, 1590's Venice at MorganDonner.com Ascension Day Outfit, 1590's Venice at MorganDonner.com I hope you have enjoyed reading about this project!

 

Mini Update:

How fun!  A couple talented folks have made their own versions of this outfit, check them out!

Ekaterina Mikhaylova-Smolnyakova with Vento del Tempo.

Ekaterina Mikhaylova-Smolnyakova with Vento del Tempo.

 

Christina Williams on Pinterest!

Christina Williams on Pinterest!

 

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8 comments on “Ascension Day
  1. Christina says:

    How did you make the Baragoni sleeve puffs? I’ve been looking for the best way to make a simple one like you, but I can’t find any direction. Thanks!

    • Morgan Donner says:

      Here’s the bits of fabric I used to make the shoulder rolls. When I sewed the curved edge, and turned it inside out, I did not like the way it looked when I gathered it onto the dress shoulder, so I folded the curved edge in a bit (so it’s now inside the roll). Then I gathered the seam side of the roll in a sort of random swishy way, then stitched that gathered part to the dress.
      Baragoni Shoulder Puffs

  2. christina says:

    Hi! I must ask, where did you get the buttons on your sleeves? I can’t find any round ones without shanks that get in the way.

    • Morgan Donner says:

      where did you get the buttons on your sleeves?

      They aren’t actually functional buttons, just decorative bits (the button holes would have to be huge for those things!) but I got them from Fire Mountain Gems.

  3. Allegranza says:

    I must make the rainbow sleeves. I simply must. I love your blog, your commentary is very informative and thorough, and your dresses are all quite lovely.

  4. Lina says:

    Hi! I’m in love with this outfit and hope that I will able to do something remotely as good as this someday, for a renaissance fair that takes places during September in France. I’m currently working on much more simple gowns and I’ve managed to find every fabric and notions needed EXCEPT those metal things that can finish the ribbon used to attach the sleeves and lace the dress. I see you used something golden on the sleeves? Did you buy something and if so, where? Or did you use some other technique?
    Thank you for any response :)
    (I’m soooo sorry my website is in French, I have been thinking about translating my articles)

    • Morgan Donner says:

      Thank you so much for your comment! The metal things on my ribbons are aglets! I believe I got mine on ebay, but try searching for ‘medieval brass aglet’ and you should get some good results.

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