I’ve been obsessively working on a new to me (quite old) pleating style. Here is some of the info on my success so far. I will be updating this article some more over the next several months.
I primarily focus on German clothing styles from the early 16th century in my art, particularly pleated shirts. I look at a lot of paintings and images from he time and region. It’s not always obvious what is going style wise with collars of early 16th c German hemden (and partlets).
In my research “Italian Shirring” has come up several times, Jenny Tiramani examined an extant example of a shirt with what sounds like chevron patterned shirring in The First Book of Fashion (2015), and Thimble and Plume mentions it in their smocking videos.
There is a bit of mystery on what techniques were used; it doesn’t always look like topstitch or back stitched pleats, or darned pleats, or smocking (modern styles), or shirring. There are a limited number of extant examples and limited documentation and images. A lot of styles likely were used and occurring at the same time in this time and region. I’ve experimented with a lot of pleating and smocking, and examined various styles (see Was it Honeycomb Smocking on 16th c. German Clothing – Or something else… for more discussion).
Looking around the internet I found some awesome modern and older examples of shirring in “folk” shirts and aprons from Europe, e.g., Sardinian Puntu Vanu, Romanian a type of încreț, Ukraine, etc. I have linked my Pinterest board for it below, of particular interest is the work by “puntu vanu ricamo sardo” board belonging to Patricia Pela’ on Pinterest and Polonets Olga soulful handmade.
The words “folk shirring” do not adequately capture the various regional styles, I will use puntu vanu from here out since I was able to find an actual book related to the Sardinian styles and techniques (thanks to Marion McNealy for making sure it made its way to my hands).
As I looked at the puntu vanu works by these glorious artisans I became convinced that this is probably the style showing up in some of the paintings and woodcuts from this time and region. Which does make sense, Southern German Lands style had strong influences from the northern Italian region in the early 16th century period. I went on an adventure to translate this to a style seen in some German paintings.
I set out on a sewing adventure to translate this style into something seen on collars of some early 16th c. German hemden styles, and possibly aprons. A lot of the Sardinian work was done on a fine cotton and approximately 3 centimeters (little over an inch) or so wide and a length appropriate for a cuff or sleeve cap or front section of a shirt. I knew I would ultimately need to translate this technique into something a little bigger (2 inches in width and well over 14 inches in length) on linen or cotton/linen blend. There are examples on linen and wide sections, like that of an apron, in the book. However, the focus of the tutorials and “recipes” were on on smaller sections and fine cotton. Another consideration is I don’t speak or read Italian, so there was a bit of a language barrier there. Then to add to the fun the author indicates there is a bit of a secret recipe quality to the techniques.
Rublack, U., Hayward, M., & Tiramani, J. (Eds.). (2015). The First Book of Fashion: The Book of Clothes of Matthäus and Veit Konrad Schwarz of Augsburg. Bloomsbury Academic. Print
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Lee Ann Posavad
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Thimble and Plume
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Polonets Olga soulful handmade
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