Monday, July 1, 2013

Renaissance Pocket (work in progress)

 Renaissance Pocket   
Magdalena Lucia Ramberti
Christa Gordon

            I started out this project with a need to keep my personal items safe and wondering if their might be a solution that would not take away from the more authentic look I was going for in my clothing. I looked for several ideas and came across tie on pockets. It was ingenious and simple. All the existing pockets I found were all dated just out of period and then I found a Bolso also known as Faltriquera, or Spanish pocket dated 1575-1600 just within period at Museo del Traje or Museum of costume in Madrid.
  It had the same shape as the tie on pockets except it was missing a method to tie it on. This example is silk satin with couched metal threads.

            I kept looking and came across Saccoccia, or Italian pockets. I could not find any existing pockets but I did find evidence in paintings and frescos.
A fresco called The Maiden's Quarter by Alessandro Allori dated 1588
  A closer inspection of the fresco reveals three women wearing what appears to be tie on pockets.

More paintings resulted in more examples:
"Woman at her toilet", 1575-78, Alessandro Allori


Birth of the Virgin by Alessandro Allori, 1595 

Sala di Penelope", 1561-62, Giovanni Stradano
It seems that these would be worn outside their clothes similar to a pouch when in informal situations. I did find a passage mentioning wearing a pocket under the skirt when wearing finer clothes “from the side openings of the skirt, corresponding to those of the bodice, it was possible to access the inside pockets, such as that found among the folds of the funeral dress.” (Orsi & Niccoli, 2005)
The pocket in Eleonora di Toledo's funeral dress skirt, 1562 (Palazzo Pitti, Florence), made of silk taffeta
With these examples in mind I set off to create my own.
Pocket 1:
Because of its unusual nature, having buttons, I thought of giving the stripped pocket from The Maiden's Quarter by Alessandro Allori dated 1588 a try.
As the only extant pockets I could find from within our period of study was made of silk satin or silk taffeta I thought silk would be a good fabric choice to begin with.
            Silk was available and used for clothing within Italy. “The Por Santa Maria guild of Florence, which later came to be known as the Arte della Setta, was a multi-tiered guild. Originally established for the benefit of merchants who sold luxury silk goods, it was later dominated by the producers of silk fabrics, and regulated most activities associated with the production and sale of silk textiles. “(Frick, 2005) Several extant items of clothing from Italy are made from silk and linen. ("The Workbox - The Realm of Venus", n.d. ).
            I found a lovely silk with gold stripes woven into the fabric. It was appropriate for an approximate look of my original and fit within my budget.

As it is difficult to identify what material the buttons are made of I choose to make a pair of thread wrapped buttons based on the extant buttons shown on garments from Patterns of Fashion by Janet Arnold.           Such buttons were used on several garments; including the burial suit of Cosimo I de’Medici. Many of the buttons are discribed as “silk wrapped around a wooden core.” (Arnold, 1985)
Close up of button from Pattern of Fashion and the Doublet of Cosimo I de’Medici
My buttons
I used 12mm round wooden beads as my wooden core, I then used some burgundy thread I had on hand, as I was trying to keep this on a budget. I first wrapped five horizantal “spines” on each button then wove my thread verticaly across the bead and around the spine until the bead is covered.  Inspired by the button from Janet Arnold’s Patterns of Fashion (picture above) I used some gold metal thread to create non-woven sections echoing the look of the inspiration button.
To create the pocket itself I used a close up of the pocket from "Woman at her toilet", by Alessandro Allori (page 4). I blew up the close up until it was close to my proprotions, length just short of the distance from my waist to a chair when sitting, as seen in the painting. I then cut out my pattern and began assembly of the pocket. I first stitched the front and lining of the opening then stitched the body of the pockets. After contacting the Museo del Traje which is home to one of the only existing pockets from the 16th century (page 1) I was told their pocket did have a lining of silk satin. I can’t say if it was common to line pockets or not as there really is no record to look at. I decided to line my pocket, like the existing pocket. I did this so the seams would be encased and protected as well as to prevent snagging of the seams with any objects I might keep in the pocket.
It’s difficult to see how the pockets were worn. The Spanish pocket is missing a string attached to it or some way to attach it to an apron. The Toledo pocket is hastily sewn to the inside of the bodice. From the portraits I looked at in my examples there are many worn with an apron and could possibly be somehow attached to the apron strings. There is one woman in The Maiden's Quarter who is brushing her hair who is not wearing an apron. Looking at 18th century examples, while out of our period of study there are a large number of surviving pockets from this period, show a large number attached to their own strings or with a casing to lace a string through.

Arnold, J. (1985). Patterns of fashion: The cut and construction of clothes for men and women, c1560-1620. London: Macmillan.
Frick, C. C. (2005). Dressing Renaissance Florence: Families, fortunes, and fine clothing. London: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Orsi, L. R., & Niccoli, B. (2005). Moda a Firenze, 1540-1580: Lo stile di Eleonora di Toledo e la sua influenza. Firenze: Pagliai Polistampa.
The Workbox - The Realm of Venus. (n.d.). The Realm Of Venus - Fashion and Style in Renaissance Italy. Retrieved from

No comments:

Post a Comment