The Beginning

My dearest Katiebug told me, “Mommy, I want one of those white princess neck things!” After looking through a lot of portraits it was discovered she meant a ruff.  I was over the moon! That is where this begins.

The dress she picked is Lavinia Fontana’s – Portrait of a girl 1580. Technically not a ruff, but I’m not going to quibble. beginning

Portait of a Girl, Lavinia Fontana 1580

As of today, I have made her a square necked  smock.  Technically a bit more English than Italian, but a good basic shape that will work well with the chosen dress. This is the basic layout, though not to scale.

CamiciaDue to fabric limitations, Little-Bug’s camicia  has a seam at the shoulders as well, though this is not documentable to my knowlege .

My trick for placing the neck facing:

Iron the camicia ( smock) in half and then in half the other way.  This will give you the center front and center across.  on this particular camicia, the shoulders have a seam so that takes the place of one of of the ironing lines.

Cut out the facing square, but not the center.  Mark the stitching line the size you want the neck opening to be, adjust it to have a lower neckline in the front and higher in the back.  Iron so that it has a crease marking the placement.  Then all you have to do is match up the ironing lines! no more dealing with wiggly necklines due to shifting fabric.  AFTER stitching, cut out the neck line leaving a small seam allowance.  Flip the facing and iron.  Stitch down so it stays in place.

neck facing placement

facing flipped

Next attach the side gores and iron the seams toward the gore.  I trimmed the corners to make a rounded edge from the straight side of the gore to the bias side.  Gores are sewn with the straight grain side to the main body panel. Trimming the corners off keeps it from having a dangly side.


The small square gussets are set in to the sleeve, then the sleeve is set into the camicia.  Two angles of the sleeve inside out.

Sleve gusset 2

Sleve guesset 1

Sew up the sides and you’re done! Little-Bug’s camicia has not been hemmed just in case she has another growth spurt while making this dress.  Its also quite a bit long for her in the sleeves.  Here’s to hoping it might last a year!

Katie Camicia


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