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Farsetto Construction of the Italian Renaissance (1425-1470)
Copyright  © 2002 Elizabeth Jones
Maestra Damiana Illiara d'Onde
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 Background     Research    Features of the Farsetto     How to Make a Farsetto     Pictures of Farsetti in Period      End Notes      Bibliography


This reconstruction evolved over many years - about twelve I think. More than a decade ago I had a pattern given to me years ago by my old friend, Jeanmaire Remes. I had modified this pattern to fit my husband, roughly the same size as the original owner. It's second incarnation came about seven years ago, when we held an event in the Burgundian 1450 era, and I spent a good deal of time and effort creating Italian Renaissance clothing of the same period. The results were the costume studies by Pisanello, which will be reviewed in a separate article. However, I needed proper garments under these fancy (and fanciful) vestments, and pulled out the farsetto (doublet) pattern again. I did revise it, to fit a larger husband (the same man), and I applied more advanced costuming techniques to its construction (interlining in the sleeves and pad stitching in the collar). It was quite nice, but never quite finished (sewed him in to it for lack of time and buttons!) There it sat for the next seven years.

Time warp to January 2002 and my determination to wear those Pisanello studies for the second time ever. Alas! There was no way the farsetto would fit my ever more curvy husband, and I was shocked at my own work. I did a fair amount of scolding to myself,"Why didn't I put interlining in the whole thing? Just look  at this flimsy construction! And this collar - what was  I thinking! I knew better even then - humph!!" I admit, if it had fit him, I would have been tempted to rework some of it properly, for it was about 50 percent correct. I was saved from the frustration by the three inch gap of the farsetto front - that kind of remodeling  I was not inclined to do. So I pulled out the farsetto pattern from its dusty depths and looked at it with a newer and more critical eye. I tell the above story because I truly believe it takes several renditions, and perhaps many years to get things right. Perhaps in another five years I will be equally appalled at this work, but for now I think it is fairly accurate.


There are four main sources that discuss the farsetto in detail: Renaissance Dress in Italy 1400-1500 , Storia del Costume in Italia, Il costume al tempo di Pico e Lorenzo il Magnifico,and Dress in Italian Painting 1460-1500 1

In Renaissance Dress in Italy 1400-1500, Herald draws much of her information from Levi-Pisetzky, and says that there were other terms for similar garments during the same period: giubetto, zuparello, corpetto and zupone. This is similar to the many terms found for a basic woman's dress of the same time period, the gamurra. Differences in terminology can be slight depending on region, cloth, decade, etc., so I have adopted the word farsetto  to mean this particular garment. "Doublet" is a a good generic term in English, much as "dress" can mean many different style. Levi-Pisetzky infers that farsetto and zupone would have been hidden, but this may change as the 15th century draws to a close, and it is more common to see the doublet without any sort of over garment.

At this particular time, circa 1450, the farsetto is covered usually, and properly, by an over garment. This usually takes one of three forms, a cioppa or gonella that has sleeves, or a giornea (without sleeves and open at the sides). My own personal distinction is that a cioppa is more stylized, is more decorated, and is like a giornea with sleeves. I use gonnella for a more basic robe - buttoning or closing down the center, and loosely styled, belted at the waist. The giornea had formal pleats like the cioppa and was open at the sides, frequently decorated with fur or other trim. As this is not an article about overgarments, I am not elaborating further here, but simply want to point out that for proper street attire, a gentleman should wear an overgarment over his farsetto.

Levi-Pisetzky says much the same thing, but adds that the term diploide  or  diplois  is also seen in inventories where one would expect to see farsetto or one of the other terms. As diploide seems to correspond to "doublet" one can accept this as an alternate term. Note that any of these terms, like our word "dress" or "gown" or "doublet" could continue to be used indefinitely, with only the style changing. Therefore, a farsetto  of 1450 can be very different from one of fifty years later, although they may be called the same term.

Farsetti could be made of a variety of fabrics. Herald lists a few inventories of clothing in the back of her book, and in this one can find guarnello (a cotton/linen), velluto (velvet) and bochaccino ("modest" linen or cotton for lining or simpler garments), and raso (satin). One listing has a giubarello di pirpignano rosso, perpignano being a low grade woolen cloth originating in Perpignan. There are other listings for farsetti with no description. I believe these would normally be of wool, being the most common and practical fabric of the time and probably deserving no special mention. In fact the word for cloth, panno,  typically means panno lano (woolen cloth) versus panno lino (linen cloth). 2  Pisetzky also mentions that a people also wear, like the baker, Cisti,  white farsetti of linen.  3

I have recently found a new source on this topic, with excellent information on calze and farsetto, in Il costume al tempo di Pico e Lorenzo il Magnifico. This has a long section on the farsetto,pages 84-90,  which I have translated for the benefit of other costume historians. It discusses both the evolution of the garment, which  shortens progressively through the century, it's function (both fashionable, practical and as a supporting structure for armour) and it's construction. This last discussion is particularly valuable as I know of no other author attacking the subject in such detail. Ornella Morelli, the author of this particular chapter, references an inventory of a deceased farsettaio (tailor specializing in farsetti) who died in 1425. This is wonderfully detailed information, as it counts the number and names of pieces in a farsetto of the time (twelve), and various other materials and items found in the shop. Keeping in mind that the document is dated 1425, the skirt may have been cut separately. Tallying up the twelve pieces raises a question: two fronts (petti) + two backs (code) + two lower sleeves (manichini) + two upper sleeves (maniche) + two collar pieces (collaretti) still leaves two pieces missing. Are these the skirt pieces, and if so, are the only seamed at the back? The young men playing civettino (1430) seem to have side seams on their skirts, whereas the laborer (1440) does not. Perhaps it was somewhat arbitrary or did change with the time and region.

She mentions that in the worked farsetti the padding would be positioned with or without a casing. This raises a good many questions about how exactly the padding was attached  - to an interlining (as I have done) or not? If not, attaching the padding to the wrong side of the outer layer does require some mechanism to stop it from shifting. Either this could be padstitching all over or perhaps stitching around the outline only. As a casing is also referenced, this may be an interlining or simply a casing for the padding itself, which would be removed and restuffed as wear required. The simple (scempie) farsetti were defined as "unworked" and this seems to indicate they did not have padding. Obviously this is possible (I myself made one!), but also does not provide the fashionable shape desired at the time. David may be wearing an unworked farsetto, as there is a good deal of wrinkling and his chest does not appear very rounded. On the other hand, there are many examples of laborers wearing padded farsetti so it cannot have been only for work or reasons of cost. "Unworked" could also mean they simply had not been worked yet, as this is an inventory of goods in the production cycle. Food for thought, certainly. Morelli also infers that the padding was made of cotton as there is a reference to regulations concerning the beating of cotton at night. After reading this book I am hunting down the original sources and trying to contact the authors to ask questions!

Elizabeth Birbari also discusses the farsetto, and calls attention to the lining in the Piero della Francesco fresco, white and to the edge of the garment, with buttonholes worked in a color matching the outside of the garment. She also notes that in Mantegna's fresco of the Gonzaga family, the smaller boy's farsetto shows stitching lines above the edge, suggesting perhaps a bound edge . I would agree as this eliminates unnecessary bulk created by a turned seam. Birbari also points out the rip (assumed accidental) in the doublet of the archer in Mantegna's Martrydom of St. Christopher. One assumes this was done to protray additional violence in the picture and is not a feature of the farsetto (although later in the 17th century, split-back  doublets were in vogue).Birbari is a good source for pointing out additional details like these. She does not go into much contruction detail, but includes closeups of period painitings and frecoes to illustrate her points. 5

Lacking are any extant examples (to my knowledge) on which to base construction notes, so observation, the above resources and experimentation need to serve  here. However, there are many artistic examples of farsetti in period, and several good examples in paintings and frescoes that show seam lines, button placement and other tailoring details. The only real thing lacking is a dissection of the interior construction, but one can work backwards and forwards from earlier and later extant pieces.  6

Features of the Farsetto:

Fit:  They really did! - not our modern idea of fitting, being somewhat loose and comfortable, but a true form fit to the body. If you can grab fabric, it's too big. There is no evidence of any excess fabric on most of the pictured men (David being the exception) , and the garment is very comfortable even when it closely fits the body. I do not mean tight like a woman's period bodice might be, but a close fit. The main challenge here is to cut the various layers to fit, then add the padding and still have it fit. Therefore the muslin (highly recommended!) should fit closely, but not tight. Also, seam allowances must be very closely monitored if your outer layers do not have some give to them (like wool).

Padding: The most important aspect of the garment of this time was the shaping over the chest. Like the contemporary Flemish and Burgundian doublets, padding was needed to shape the chest in a stylized manner above the breast.. It took me a long time to accept this - although my eyes saw it, my hands would not turn it into reality by adding padding to my previous examples. This seems to be the one thing that escapes most of us when recreating historic clothing - the tendency to make the garment as lightweight as the ones we wear now, which are, in reality, disposable. Garments in period were made to last, as the materials were very costly as compared to the labor involved. So, interlining a doublet kept its shape and provided strength. It also adds weight, in addition to a layer on which the padding can be attached. My padding reached from just above the waist to the neckline. It consisted of several layers of springy wool, which had been fulled in the washing machine. Actually, I used a good deal of scrap material from the blue doublet wool itself, but had to resort to cotton batting, as there was not enough wool thickness to achieve the proper amount of padding. I added four layers of cotton batting to finally get the depth I needed - about 3/4" in its deepest area, although it does taper away towards the collar and waist (See Padding Picture). I did not translate Ornella Morelli's section on the farsetto, with it's detail on padding, until after I made this garment and so I would like to clarify with her hopefully whether the padding was always of cotton, as her text suggests.

U-Shaped Neckline (in back): This is a feature unique to the Italian doublets of the time. There are similar necklines in Burgundian styling of the same period, but they tended to stick out from the neck very stiffly, while the farsetto neckline contours the natural neck. The collar is narrow, about 1 1/2" at the front, but stiff. The collar is frequently quilted with lines of topstitching showing about 1/4"  apart. Additional interlining is needed to achieve proper stiffness, although the quilting really helps. The upper edge of the collar was bound with a very narrow strip, not turned in. This is according to my research and experimentation. In general, doublets from here on had binding instead of turned-in seams, which contributed needless bulk and is hard to handle. Good examples of the collar can be seen (with quilting) in Leonello d'Este by Giovanni da Oriolo and della Francesca's Victory of Heraclius.

Curved " 1/2 Keyhole" Front: The cut of this can be seen very clearly in two examples from the same fresco series: "Discovery of the True Cross" and "Burial of the Wood" by Piero della Francesca (Church of San Francesco, Arrezzo, 1447-1451. This construction was the most major change, along with padding and total interlining that I made this last time. Prior to that I had cut a flat front - wrong, wrong, wrong! 7  The curve of this doublet comes from the earlier gothic period, in which cotehardies and 14th century doublets were cut in the same manner. The same front curve can be seen in the Blois doublet in Lyons The back of the farsetto is a fairly natural cut, (albeit with the U-neck) with side seams going down the natural side. They have not yet assumed the very diagonal cut of later 16th century doublets. The area below the waistline  (the skirt) could also be quilted with parallel lines of topstitching about 1/4" apart. It is hard to tell whether all three areas (collar, lower sleeve and skirt) were always quilted together, but I believe the most common was the collar. The bottom of the farsetto reached between hip and thigh.

Wide armholes and two part, cartridge pleated sleeves: The armholes are cut much further in than later doublets, and certainly wider than modern tailoring. They provided almost a full range of motion, and the depth of the cut can be seen by the man holding up the cross in della Francesa's True Cross fresco. The best way to envision this is to look at a armor breastplate of the period - the farsetto armholes follow the same curve, although not quite as severe. The sleeves are constructed with a narrow, close fitting lower sleeve that extends over the elbow -  another common mistake (all being mine!) is to cut the lower sleeve below the elbow, which is incorrect. The lower sleeve was frequently quilted in the same manner as the collar and waist piece - parallel lines of topstitching. This may have been for durability or wearing armor, as it certainly stiffens the material.

The upper sleeve is a rather wide cut of the typical medieval back seamed sleeve, but stretched out to about double the normal width. The upper curve is longer than the underarm curve (due to pleating issues below).  Note that it is not much longer than the same segment on the natural body - one tends to over lengthen these sleeves and the resulting shape is much more voluminous and "leg o'mutton" than proper for the period. The upper sleeve should allow for full extension of the arm without any excess puffing. It is connected to the body through a number of cartridge pleats, but only over the top half of the arm hole. The pleating starts and ends about where the arm attaches to the chest. The rest (lower half) of the upper sleeve does not have pleats as these would interfere with the arm hanging down comfortably. Under the arm can be left open - the sleeve does not have to fully attach to the body of the garment. The pleats are spaced apart (about an inch), as the width of the fabric dies not allow the same kind of close pleating as does a skirt. The upper sleeve attaches to the lower with the same pleating, except that it continues all the way around the arm, and are closer together. I have seen examples where the pleats appear closer, which would suggest more fabric in the upper sleeve, but it also looks as if they were controlled inside, and perhaps taped or tacked all the way up. Two sets of ties could be attached to the upper sleeve in order to attach pauldrons (armor), but are not always seen.

Buttons, Lacing  Most of the farsetti of this period have buttons on the front and sleeves. However there are also examples of double lacing - sets of two laces that may each be tied off, or go all the way down the front. Both methods were placed either in sets of three closures, with gaps in between the sets, or continuos closures all the way down. Also, lacing becomes more common after 1450, and becomes predominant in the later years of the century. Della Francesca's True Cross farsetti have button holes all the way down. These are spaced about 3/4" apart. and there are about 36 to 40 of them.  Ghirlandaio's David show the double lacings all the way down, although they appear to tie separately near the top. Perhaps this was to easily loosen the collar area, or is simply one of many that is showing. Mantegna's detail of the Martyrdom of St. Christopher show a doublet with gaps in buttons approximately three apart. The same type of spacing can be seen later in Crivelli's Saint Roch. Also Botticelli's Temptation of Christ shows much wider spaced lacing, still in sets of two that must tie separately in order not to bunch the garment front. I did buttons, but wanted to try the spacing of three. This worked fine until I got to the tummy area, where the control of continuous buttons was needed. On a slim person 3 buttons and gaps all the way down may work fine. The lower sleeve could be closed with buttons going all the way up, or with eight buttons, spaced evenly at slightly less than 1" apart, starting at the wrist and going to below the elbow. The space above the buttons  would then be allowed to gap for full mobility. Note that buttons are placed on the edge of the garment, not set back like modern placement! This continues into the 16th century and beyond (probably until the industrial revolution). Good detail on this can be seen in Mantegna's St. Christopher man, as can the binding on the edge of the doublet front and collar.

Hose attachment: is very important to consider! Bias cut hose were in use here, as the knitted hose had not yet been invented. Bias cut hose is an ordeal and opera all to itself, but as they attach to the farsetto they cannot be ignored. In all examples I have seen around 1450, there is no evidence yet of one piece hose nor of cod-pieces/groin coverings. These evolved later on. Hose are still cut and worn as two pieces that are not joined together permanently. In most cases they do not even meet at center front or center back. Therefore the hose attached in one of two ways - either over the farsetto  with ties attached to the outside of the doublet (see Victory of Heraclius) and threaded through eyelets on the hose, or edge of hose to  edge of the doublet (see David) In either case, neither attachment went all the way to front or back. This leaves the modern male feeling a bit vulnerable, as reported to me by my dear husband. Men in period were probably just more used to the airiness around their nether regions! That said, it is impossible to wear the farsetto  and calze (hose) without proper foundation garments...

Shirt and Underwear: Camisa or camicia (shirt) and mutande (underwear) were very necessary and frequently shown. The Italians were known for their racy bikini briefs! Actually, men from other regions wear similar underwear for the same purpose - to fill in the gap not yet covered by their hose. It was another 20-50 years before the hose were fully joined, so in the meantime modesty dictated some covering (unlike women, where the debate on underwear still rages, unseen beneath skirts). The mutande were made of linen and had a small drawstring to tighten above the groin. Also seen are brache, "boxer shorts" of white linen worn by men who were working. I am not sure if this was preference like today or had some function.

The camisa was generally of two types, but always white and most often of linen.8. The first type is a "normal" shirt - long sleeves, slit at the neck. Basically a T-tunic cut. The second is unique to Italy of this period and had a gore inserted in the neck slit to form a triangle. This triangle stuck out  a bit when the shirt was worn by itself, or was characterized by a three-fold look when worn under the doublet collar. You can see this in many examples if you look closely. In Mantegna's St. Christopher, our farsetto example is open enough to show the shirt peeping out a bit. Della Francesca's True Cross also shows the shirt under an opened farsetto. A better example is Christ carrying the Cross, that clearly shows the depth and width of the front gore.  9  Other examples are: Ghirlandaio shepherds  and Antonello da Messina'sportrait of a man. In both types of shirt, it is important not to make the sleeves too long, although they were longer than the arm in most pictures. Also, the length of the shirt must be at or slightly below the thighs, so that it can go over the mutande and under the hose. If it is too long it will bunch up under the hose, and it was also slit and trimmed at the sides to limit the bulkiness under the farsetto.

Background      Research   Features of the Farsetto    How to Make a Farsetto     Pictures of Farsetti in Period      End Notes      Bibliography

Note: Some of these instructions are compacted. I apologize if they are not detailed as explicitly as necessary, but did not want to turn this into an article on patterning or cartridge pleating, for example. I have tried to add pictures where words may be unclear.

Pattern: Link to Pattern Pieces with Measurements

I work from flat a paper patterns, create a mockup or muslin out of lightweight fabric, adjust fit and redraw pattern. I repeat these steps until I have a close fit. There are certainly other ways to fit a garment, including draping, but I am not an expert in them and prefer this method. I start with just the body shell with no sleeves attached when making my muslin. Remember to put on a proper shirt or one of similar fabric and cut before fitting! T-shirts do not work well as they cling to the muslin and are not the right amount of fabric.

I have provided a picture of the pattern pieces here in order to show the shape. Keep in mind that these are for a man six feet tall and 280 pounds. The shape of the body will depend on the person being fitted, but needs to retain the basic shape of the pieces. For example, if you have a slimmer person, you would remove bulk from the middle and sides of the front piece, not cut off the curve in front. You will still need that curve for proper shaping. Size should be adjusted evenly from each seam, so as to maintain their proper position. If you are starting from a basic doublet or shirt pattern, you will need to add the keyholed curve to the front of the pattern, then create a muslin to fit on the body. You will most likely find yourself taking a dart in the lower side of the belly, which actually rotates the pattern. You will also need to add to the front side piece in order to have the cutaway piece of the lower front, beneath the neckline. You will also need to cut the U-shape of the back neckline. You can adjust the U collar piece provided here for other sizes, but make sure to adjust the actual collar length, not the deep curve of the U unless the person is extremely small or large (less that 170 and more than 350 lbs , for example). The U provided should not be out of proportion for the average male and was not adjusted when my husband gained weight.

I need to emphasize that the muslin needs to fit closely on the body, especially around the neck, and with full movement at the deep armholes. If the armholes are too tight and the fabric creases when the arm is bent forward, remove the excess by making small cuts/clips in the fabric until full mobility is gained. Remember that seam allowance of attached upper sleeves will bring the edge even further in. The muslin should have slight looseness over the chest and belly to accommodate the padding. You should have about 1" overlap down the front to add buttons and buttonholes. No more is necessary as these buttons will be small. Also, you should have to pull the fabric a little to get it to do the overlap, as this will ensure a close fit when buttoned. If it overlaps by itself the full inch it is probably too loose. If you will be lacing, then you will not need this overlap. Do NOT add any extra down the front for seam allowance was this edge (and all around the bottom and collar) should be bound, not turned in. To guesstimate the padding and the fit, take several (4-6) layers of cotton batting  and fold them up over the chest and stomach, stopping at the waist. Then pin the doublet over it to get a sense of the shape. If it won't close your fit is too tight - better to find out now than later! This is a crude method but works okay.

The upper sleeve need to be at least 8" wider than the armscye (after all seam allowances) to supply 8 pleats of 1/2" depth. My farsetto had an armscye of 25 3/4" and a finished sleeve upper edge of 34 3/4"  (9" excess for pleats). I think up to 12" excess would be fine if you were making more, but smaller pleats. I would not go amy larger..


Approx. 2 yards of wide cloth should be fine for each layer. Less required for padding. All materials should be of natural fiber for breathability and comfort.

Outer Layer: I used less than 1 1/2 yards of 52" wide midweight 100% wool for this farsetto. The wool was washed (it was probably 60" wide before washing) in warm water and machine dried to full it out. You can use wool, linen, brocade, satin or velvet for the outside layer, but I would recommend making your first version out of something forgiving, like wool or velvet. Satin and silk will be harder as they will need to be smoother over the padding. Linen is fine also.

Interlining:  Heavy weight hemp or linen is best, but the interlining is there to provide stability. It must be cut on the grain and not on the bias to stop stretching. I use a very heavy linen that is closer to canvas than shirt linen. The collar will require an extra two or three layers of interlining

Lining: Linen, preferably white, hemp or cotton. I suppose fancier farsetti might have had fancy linings, but you cannot go wrong with linen!

Padding: Springy wool (fulled out in washing machine) or/and cotton or wool batting.

Silk for bias tape (or buy some). I make mine out of china silk. Maybe a 1/4 yard is needed, not more, as the strips are very thin (1" or less)  but cut on the bias so you need the 45 degree angle. A bigger piece will help so your strips can be longer.  Linen is fine also, but will not fold over as thinly as silk will, so your binding will be bulkier.

Buttons: Small is key. You will need 50-60 if you are going all the way down the front (about 35-40) and for the sleeves (8 each). Less if you leave gaps. Wood, bone, shell or metal are fine, but they are not fancy (with modern designs). You can cover beads (preferably wood ones) with cloth for a round button and make the cloth stem. I used 8mm pearls in a pinch for lack of wooden beads and covered them with a 1" circle of silk. I needed to add a little scrap of silk as a 2nd layer underneath as the silk would fray and show the pearl without it.

Thread (of course!) I use regular modern polycotton thread, but of course, more period threads are available and more desirable (silk, linen, etc)


Machine versus Hand Sewing: This can be more a philosophical issue than a practical one. I usually machine sew about half a garment and hand sew the rest. For the most part I sew long seams or pattern pieces together on the machine, then do all finishing by hand. There are exceptions to this like when I am on a long trip or have a small garment to make. Some seams require hand sewing - on the farsetto you must attach the sleeves by hand as a machine will not do cartridge pleating. You can sew the binding edge on by machine (and this is easier), but then must tack it an whip stitch by hand. Here is the kicker: if you choose to do quilting (rows of topstitching) on the collar, skirt or lower sleeve, you can use either method. I quilted my collar by hand, and hated every minute of it. I am not an embroider and muttered the whole time about the industrial revolution and how this was clearly what the sewing machine was made for. The collar took about 12 hours, and I am not a slow sewer. This type of repetitive sewing would probably have been done by an apprentice, but would be my idea of purgatory (line after line of topstitching without end!) It really makes one appreciate the industrial revolution and how cheap labor was then versus now. However, I have a personal rule about not showing any machine stitching in my garments, and so I suffered through it. People who see the farsetto really appreciate the quilting as it makes it much more elegant, but you must have the time and inclination. I am sure that if I had done the quilting by machine it would not have garnered the same review. Your choice (a hard one!)

Stitches Used: I use a modified running/top stitch, a blind stitch, whip stitch and buttonhole stitch to do my finishing.

Modified backstitch is used for the cartridge pleated seams of the sleeves. It is modified because it does not show an overlap on either side of the seam,
but takes advantage of the thickness of the fabric to hide the crossover.

Pad stitching is used to secure the padding to the interlining and the layers of the collar. It is a technique still used in modern tailoring, particularly in suits, and provides shape to the body. You can mold the garment piece into a curve using this method, or just add more depth and stability. Therefore you want to make sure that the garment is being worked and curved in the right direction while you do this. The outside of the garment may look slightly puckered, so you need to decide whether to include the outermost layer. I included it on the collar, and omitted it on the body. Link to Padstitch Example

Pinning Deep or Reverse Curves In order to space the fabric properly, you need to carefully pin areas where more fabric goes into less space, or you are matching reverse curves, as when you attach the collar to the neck of the body. Use this technique also on the curve of the band collar. Otherwise you may find yourself with left over fabric at one end, wrinkles or just a plain mess! Pin the end of the area together first, then split the remaining curve in half and pin, Keep splitting the areas in half, evenly distributing the "excess" fabric until no "ruffles" remain. This is a technique that is typically used in setting sleeves into armholes where a bit of room is needed in the curve.

Binding: Use bias strips made by cutting 3/4 - 1" strips on the bias of the fabric. Silk is preferred for its thinness and added decoration.  I used black china silk and this is annoying to cut because it wriggles, but great to sew because it sticks to the wool without pinning! Using a paper template cut in a strip and tailor's chalk is an easy way to mark the strips. Cutting with a rotary blade is faster than scissors and does not have ragged edges.  I prefer not to press the binding in the traditional 4 fold before attaching, as this will make a thicker binding. Instead, I work the binding over the garment edge by hand and then press when I have it wrapped and stitched to my liking. I have had better luck with this method and it can create a very thin edge.

To attach binding to garment:

Pressing: The iron is your friend. I press open seams and try to iron each finished piece before attaching another to it. Note that you have to be careful ironing wool to avoid that shiny look where the fibers have been pressed. Unless your wool is very thick, you should be able to iron on the wrong side of the fabric and get the piece pressed without being shiny. If this does happen, you can rough up the fibers with a wire brush or a coarse piece of fabric rubbed against it. I also turn the outer layer (wool) slightly inside the garment so about 1/8" to 1/4" of the outer layer shows on the inside. This prevents the lining from showing on the outside.


You will need to cut outer layer, interlining and lining for all pattern pieces, doubling where necessary (i.e., two front pieces of each, two upper sleeves, etc). Also, cut an extra two or three interlinings for the U-shaped collar piece to stiffen it appropriately. An estimated four layers of cotton batting will be needed, but you will probably also need to add smaller pieces in the chest area to curve out the padding appropriately. Cut your lines carefully - a rotary blade cutter and weights placed on a cutting mat is the easiest way to do this.

Note that you can piece together some of the interlining and padding pieces as they will not be seen. To conserve fabric I pieced the additional collars and padding from various scrap. Make sure that you match the grain properly for the collar and that they are the same dimensions as the whole pieces.


Make sure you are careful about maintaining the 1/2" seam allowance. I sewed my outer layer just on the inside of the 1/2" mark (on the machine) to give that layer a very slightly larger cut. If you do more than this it will probably be too big for your lining.

For each body layer of the farsetto:

The collar lining: Padding the chest front (you may want to do most of this on a dummy or your model: Putting body pieces together (except for final lining - keep aside) On the floor or table, lay the pieces on top of each other in this order:: Sorry about the lousy quality of this photo. Wool is actually smooth and not the mottle, fuzzy look you see here. Upper Sleeves Lower Sleeves: Lay out pieces in this order. You can quilt this piece using parallel lines going across (not down) the sleeve if you want, 1/4" apart, but it should be done before the inner lining is added. Better you than me! Finishing the Armscye:  You need to attach the body lining to get a finished edge. This is another potential "endless tube" scenario, hence the specific instructions for doing by machine. You can certainly do this by hand using a blind stitch or whip stitch to turn in the edges

Lining attached to armscyes. (Plain white linen - appears to have pattern in graphic due to resolution - not so.)

Attaching Sleeves to Body: This uses a spaced cartridge pleat.

Attaching Lower Sleeve to Upper: you can also do this before attaching the upper to the body.

Finishing the Garment

This front view shows the farsetto on husband after losing 20 lbs. Originally it was closer fitting and should be. Laces are temporary leather. Next time I would reduce the width of the lower sleeve by about an inch. You can see in the picture here that they are too loose, and that is not due to weight loss. Also, I would continue the buttons all the way down the front as I cannot yet verify that buttons were actually spaced like this, although laces certainly were. Lastly, I would probably make the buttons the same color or closer in color to the fabric, as I would like less contrast.

(Photos taken from various online and other sources for research purposes only)

Shirt (camisa, camicia)

Circle of Giovanni Bellini: Detail of Christ Carrying the Cross: Isabella Steward Garner Museum, Boston. Excellent view of shirt collar, with inserted gore. Gold trim? around neckline. No visible hem, but this does not show seams either.

Antonello da Messina: Portrait of a Man circa 1456: National Gallery, London. Clear view of neatly thrice folded shirt neckline under farsetto and mantello. In this portrait one can make out a slightly rounded edge of the shirt neckline, which may be a finely rolled hem.

Domenico Ghirlandaio: Shephards, Sassetti Chapel Shirt neckline with deep gore. Round buttons on edge of robe (gonella?) or perhaps farsetto underneath.


Not a farsetto, but an earlier pourpoint circa 1360 : reputed to have been worn by Charles of Blois, Musee des Tissues, Lyons ( Taken from very helpful website: Diagram of Charles of Blois pourpoint, 1360. See simlarity in cut, but much more complex patterning.
Domenico Ghirlandaio: Young Man (name?) Louvre (double ties spaced widely down farsetto  late 15th century Looked on Louvre not there.

Domenico Ghirlandaio: Sketch of David, location unknown(!). Approximately 25 sets of lacings in the front with second set clearly having its own tie-off. Approx six eyelets on bottom front (each side) for attachment of hose (edge to edge). Estimate hose lacings end about two inches to each side of center front. Clear gapping of hose with shirt showing through - no codpiece yet.

Botticelli- Temptation of Christ, Sistine Chapel, Vatican, Rome. Later (1480) Farsetto with separate ties on outside.

Marco Marziale, young man said to be Giulio Mellini, Louvre late 15th century: red farsetto with tie at front neckline (to attach breastplate?) Quilted collar. Covered by mantello (?) of brown wool lined with fur.

Giovanni da Oriolo: Leonello d'Este 1447: National Gallery, London: Good example of quilted collar of farsetto under a giornea.

Piero dell Francesca: Victory of Heracleus 1452-66, Chiesa di San Francesco, Arezzo:Back view of man with different colored hose attached over the farsetto. View of underwear and shirt between hose opening. Clear cut lines of back and sleeves, laces for attaching pauldrons

Piero dell Francesca: Torture of the Jew, San Francesco, Arezzo, 1447-1451. Note difference between two men. The one on left has the Burgundian style of doublet and robe, the one on the right has Italian. This could also be a reference to politics of the time. In any event, the Italian wearing the farsetto has a gap under the arm to allow full mobility. Hose attach edge to edge with the farsetto. This farestto apprears to button all the way up the forearm.

Piero dell Francesca: Discovery of the Three Crosses,San Francesco, Arezzo, 1447-1451 Cut of farsetto front with keyhole curve. Length of shirt with slit and trimmed side edge. Shirt collar. Gonnelle (simple robes) with turned down collars. Poste ( silk veiling) around waists?

Piero dell Francesca: Miracle of True Cross, Burying of Wood:,San Francesco, Arezzo, 1447-1451 Man holding up cross shows farsetto front keyhole cu with button holes. Depth of sleeve comparable to body is clearly shown. Button holes on lower sleeve visible, as is cut over lower sleeve going above elbow Man on left: Lining of farsetto is white, probably linen. Has quilted lower sleeve. Hose are turned over at top, clearly showing linen lining going partially down thigh and with several closely spaced eyelets to attach to farsetto (edge to edge). Skimpy underwear (mutande). Plain shirt on middle man (simple T-tunic cut).

Andrea Mantegna - Martyrdom of St. Christopher 1444-1454, Chiesa degli Eremitani, Padova:   Split in back of farsetto is very interesting! Birbati says this is to illustrate the violence of the moment. Copy in Jacquemart Andre Museum in Paris which is not damages and has much clearer view. I am trying to obtain a copy of this.

Andrea Mantegna - Martyrdom of St. Christopher 1444-1454, Chiesa degli Eremitani, Padova. Detail of farsetto neckline with five buttons actually on collar piece and three immediately below. Then a gap of about 3 buttons. Buttons appear to be flat. Binding around front and collar edges of farsetto. Shirt with fold and gore underneath. This collar looks rather tall to me, it May be artistic license or the incline of the neck. Most collars had three to four buttons on them.

Antonio Pollaiolo: Young man putting on his shoe, Uffizi, Gallery of Designs and Stamps, Firenze Interesting view of complete men's wear from the side. Clear view of farsetto lower and upper sleeve with 8 buttonholes and seam, back U- neckline of farsetto showing under deeper cut neckline of giornea. Unclear what is hanging/showing at his side - a purse, perhaps? Levi Pisetzky comments that he is putting on a scarpetta, a light shoe of fabric, often worn with pianella or zoccolli, wooden platforms that strap over the shoe to avoid getting them dirty..

Tuscan School: 1430 - Game of Civettino, Palazzo Davanzati, Firenze.  Clear view of farsetto with hose attachment. This is an earlier version of the farsetto with a separate skirt, as this painting clearly shows. The upper sleeves are set into the body extremely far down, about three inches above the waist. Hose are clearly separate, attaching edge to edge with the doublet, and with no groin covering yet. .

Domenico di Bartolo, Enlargement of the Hospital, 1440-1444, Ospedale di Santa Maria della Scala, Siena Possibly one of the white linen farsetti worn by bakers, and common people? Skirt definitely appears pieced at waist. Note absence of toes for pauldrons. On a laborer it would not be necessary to mic fashion nor use the ties to attach armor.

Galeazzo Maria Sforza by Antonio Pollaiouolo, 1470, Uffizi, Firenze. This is a later painting, and I am not sure exactly what this garment would be called. It appears to be a farsetto at first, but then one sees the red sleeve underneath which is probably the true farsetto.  This is probably a cioppa which nipped in at the waist and flared out with a skirt.

Carlo Crivelli - detail of St. Sebastian from Madonna della Rondine, 1480: National Gallery, London Later version of farsetto with pieced straight sleeves, closed with punte (points) and maglie (metal eyelets). Quilted collar is still in evidence as are ties for pauldrons. This would seem to be just a decorative convention by this point. Clear line of folded short neckline. The gonnella has short sleeves and still has the spacing of three closures down center front.

Hose (calze)

Castle Challant, Issogne, 1489-1502. Calze and farsetti in tailor shop. Note white linings for both farsetti and calzi

Carlo Crivelli - Saint Roch: London, Wallace Collection. There is no date available, but Crivelli usually painted in the latter half of the 15th century. This assembly looks closer to 1450 on account of the two piece hose. Good view of a turned down two piece hose, with linen lining at top, and points on side. Clear view of mutande with drawstring tie at front and short tucked in. Usually the shirt is on the outside, but Crivelli probably wanted to show the wound on the upper thigh and so tucked the shirt in. In this case the short would not appear long enough to cover properly, so I believe it is artistic license. Good example of multilayered dress: calze, mutande, camisa, farsetto, gonnella and mantello (mantle/cloak) are all represented here along with scarpe (shoes) and cintura (belt) No hat, but I suppose a halo will do! Gonnella shows no closures below waist level. Most seemed to have buttons only from the waist up. Farsetto has quilted lower sleeves and collar.

Cosimo Tura, Vulcan's Smithy, from "September", 1466-1470. Hall of the Months, Palazzo Schifanoia, Ferrara. Brache: Boxer shorts!

Evolution of hose and doublet later in century

Ghirlandaio or son, Martyrdom of St. Peter, 1486-90 Tournbuoni Chapel, Santa Maria Novella, Firenze

Carpaccio: Martyrdom of the Pilgrims and Funeral of St. Ursula, 1493, Accademia, Venexia

Luca Signorelli, End of World, 1499-1503,Cappella Nuova, Duomo, Orvieto


1.  Jacqueline Herald, History of Dress in Renaissance Italy 1400-1500 (Atlantic Highlands, 1980), Rosita Levi-Pisetzky,. Storia del Costume in Italia Vol. II  (Istituto Editoriale  Italiano, 1964-69), Exhibition from Aurura Capitani, Vittorio Erlindo, Stefania Ricci, Il Costume al tempo di Pico a Lorenzo il Magnifico, (Edizione Charta, 1994), Birbari, Elizabeth Birbari, Dress in Italian Painting, 1460-1500. (John Murray, 1975)
2. Herald, op cit., inventories on  pages 242 - 248
3. Levi-Pisetzky, op cit., page 326
4.  Archivio di Stato di Firenze Pupilli avanti il Principio n. 43, Hereclum Antonij Bartoli farsettail (1425 Indizione terza) cc170r. ev.
5. Birbari, op cit., pp 28 and 89
6. By this I mean there are extant examples from a century earlier and later from which certain construction elements can be drawn. The Charles of Blois doublet in Lyons from 1360 and the 1562 Don Garcia de'Medici doublet in Janet Arnold's in Patterns of Fashion 1560-1620, (Drama Books, 1985) can be referenced for details.
7.  In order to adjust the pattern from flat front to the appropriate curve: I added the curve, then fitted to the body. I took a dart in the mockup/muslin across the belly. I then redrew the pattern, turning the piece slightly, adding an inch to the side to compensate for the narrow cut in the waistline.
8. I say "most often" here, because if I say "always" someone will drag out a cotton, hemp, wool or silk camisa, or lightening bolts will strike me. In any event, I believe them to be linen most often, and period accounts mention it. I have never seen a camisa that was not white, as laundering was usually limited to this garment and underwear, and linen was easily cleaned and whitened.
9. This is also the only shirt I have seen with "trim" on the neck. It could be woven but does not seem to go through the fabric. I believe the upper neck edge could employ the selvage so that no hem was needed, but with a very fine rolled hem the same delicacy can be achieved.


Arnold, Janet, Patterns of Fashion, 1560-1620,

Birbari, Elizabeth, Dress in Italian Painting, 1460-1500. London: John Murray, 1975
Bonechi, Casa Editore. Gli Uffizi, Firenze: 1983
Boucher, Francois. 20,000 Years of Fashion. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1987.
Capitani, Aurora Fiorentin &  Erlindo, Vittorio&, Ricci, Stefania. Il Costume al tempo di Pico a Lorenzo il Magnifico, Milan: Edizione Charta, 1994.
Davenport, Milia. The Book of Costume. New York: Crown Publishers, 1976.
Herald, Jacqueline. Renaissance Dress in Italy 1400-1500. London: Bell & Hyman, 1981.
Levi-Pisetzky, Rosita. Storia del Costume in Italia Vols. II. Milano: Istituto Editoriale  Italiano, 1964-69.
Newton, Stella Mary Dress of Venetians,
Payne, Blanche. History of Costume. New York: Harper Collins, 1965

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