Gown Construction Undergarments Resources
Embellisments Bibliography A Selection of Paintings

Italian Renaissance Sleeves
Over View
Detachable Sleeves
Attached Sleeves
Combination Sleeves

Sleeves went from being close fitting around the year 1495 to the other extreme in the first quarter of 1500's when limits were set in Venice to curtail the escalating amount of cloth that was being used for sleeves. Sumptuary laws were also placed on use of cloth of gold, silver and silk. Even the use of gold or silver laces and embroidery was restricted. Venetian officials considered it was in 'good taste' for a women to wear a plain cloth dress having little or no embellishments with modest sleeves of brocade or silk of one color. Any lady caught wearing illegal sleeves was fined and had to forfeit her sleeves as was the person who made them fined. To skirt around these laws women would wear their 'plain' cloth dress made with slashes to show off a 'forbidden fabric' underneath.

The sleeves were where the Italians could add color and variety into their wardrobe. One could give the same dress a different look easily with detachable sleeves made of rich brocades.

Here are a variety of sleeve variations for your Renaissance dress.

Find a pattern that has a close fitting sleeve that does not puff out at the shoulder. This will serve as a guide for creating your sleeves.


You can create a basic pattern by measuring your arm length and the circumference at these points:

shoulder 1/2 way bend 1/2 way wrist*

*(Either use the measurement from around fullest part of your hand or you will have to leave the seam open for about 3" at the wrist and use buttons/lacings to close the sleeve.)

Transfer the measurements to paper
with the pattern having this shape

Your basic sleeve pattern can be used for a multitude of variations. Use your imagination and/or art and costume books for more ideas. Occasionally it will happen where you will do the embellishment after the sewing, but for the most part, be sure to decorate before you start sewing the sleeves together.

Detachable Sleeves

Attached Sleeves

Combination Sleeves
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Gown Construction Bibliography A Selection of Paintings
Embellisments Undergarments Appendix