A 15th century Extant Italian Gown

I’ve been digging and organizing my research material recently, and while browsing through my files, I remembered that I had this tucked away. This paper is really amazing, it’s not everyday you run across an extant 15th Italian gown!
Un Abito per Osanna, in “IN GLORIA 1515 -2015. OSANNA ANDREASI D A M A N T O V A “

The paper discusses the life and extant gown of the Blessed Osanna Andreasi of Mantua (1499-1505). While it is in Italian, please don’t let that deter you from reading this paper! Google Translate does an excellent job of getting the basics across, and the photos are worth it!

The following is my understanding of the text, and interpretation of dress based on the article and the hi-res photos we got for research on the Lengberg project.

The dress is not complete. There is only a short section of the skirt attached to the bodice, and one large fragment left of the skirt. The sleeves have been cut off short on both sides.. This does not appear to be a funeral gown, but a gown worn, and then perhaps pieces used for other purposes.
The dress is made of a fine white wool on the outside, lined with creamy white linen. The wool and the linen lining appear to have been worked together as one, with the seam allowences of the wool on the inside of the linen, and then whip stitched down. The text of the paper says “All wool seams they are covered and embedded in linen so as not to irritate the skin of the model and ensure a good hold over time.” But looking at the hi-res photos we got for research on the Lengberg project, the wool seam allowances show up on the inside of the linen lining, but are stitched down with a whip stitch. The stitching method used to attach the sleeves is unclear.

The bodice is made of four pieces, with three seams: one center back and two side seams, which are shifted slightly to the back. The center back and front are cut on the straight of grain. The back neck is cut in a low v-shape, and the front has a high round neckline. The center front closes with 12 pairs of hooks and eyes down the front (alternating hook, eye, hook, eye) to the waist seam. There is a line of prick stitch down the outside of the neckline and center front, about 0.5 cm from the edge.

The center front has a slit for the skirt opening, but no hook and eyes, however the front edges of the skirt are folded back so there is a pleat at the front edge of the slit on each side. The skirt is cut as a half circle, with piecings, and a slight gathering at the waist, but does not appear to have pleats. The waist seam appears to be covered with a strip of linen which is whip stitched down to the lining on the bodice and the skirt.

The sleeves are narrow and tapered, but have gussets at the back of the arm to provide for freedom of movement, which also provides the puff at the top and back of the sleeve as is seen in fashionable portraits of the time.

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