EXHIBITION

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INTRODUCTION

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“Sewing workshop at Arles” by Antoine Raspal, c.1760

This exhibition is part of a larger project merging practice with traditional scholarship in researching dress history.  Traditional literary scholarship is combined with object-based research (eaxmining he “real thing”) and engagement with actual processes in order to gain deeper understanding of the social history of clothing.

The garments exhibited are reproductions of museum artefacts.  These are largely drawn from the Museum of Londong in England, but also the Fashion Museum at Bath, the Victoria & Albert Museum, the National Museums of Scotland, the collection at Berrington Hall, and the Royal Ontario Museum.

The purpose of theses reproductions is to explore and demonstrate techniques of pre-industrial garment construction.  The garments reflect likely clothing choices of a middle class Englishwoman during the period 1750-1770.  This particular time span was chosen because the popular styles could be seen together in one wardrobe at any point in this twenty-year period.  The style and material choices are meant to replicate middle class tastes during the eighteenth century as this was the largest and fastest growing consumer demographic.

Thus, representative styles and qualities of clothing from such a person’s wardrobe are displayed in order to demonstrate the variety of methods and skills used by eighteenth century seamstresses (known then as mantua makers).  These garments were, therefore, constructed by hand using period techniques, appropriate materials, and even within certain environmental conditions such as sewing only by daylight and candlelight.

UNDERGARMENTS

Undergarments provided the foundation layer for eighteenth century clothing, creating the fashionable silhouette of the time.  As such they were, particularly for fashionable women, an absolutely indispensable necessity.

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SHIFT

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The shift (or chemise) performed the dual function of providing a hygienic barrier between the skin and other garments while softly protecting the wearer’s sking from potential abrasion from other undergarments and the outer clothing.

Shifts were primarily made of linen in this period, which was durable, washable, absorbent, and comfortable against the skin.  Because they were frequently laundered seam were sewn with very small, tight stitches and all raw edges turned under and sewn.

Although the stitches themselves (running and slip stitches) are simple to execute, with an average of 18-20 stitches per inch and 1/16″ – 1/8″ seam allowances these garments were laborious and required both a fine hand and keen eyesight – a luxury in itself at a time before the wide dissemination of eyeglasses.

Shift, 18th century

Reproduction compiled from Northwest Territory Alliance Patternmaster printed tutorial

Fine bleached linen, fine linen thread

Shifts were the ubiquitous clothing item for men and women from at least the Middle Ages through the nineteenth century.  The mid-eighteenth century woman’s shift was typically knee-length with full, elbow-length sleeves and a wide neckline.  Both the sleeves and neckline would be gathered up to the desired fit by a drawstring.

STAYS

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Stays could be called the “armature” of women’s eighteenth century fashion.  They turned a woman’s upper torso into something rigid like a mannequin on which to drape and display her clothing.

All women wore stays, even the very poor; it was considered indecent not to do so.  Like with much of clothing and fashion in the period the quality of materials and workmanship delineated social status.

Stays were time consuming and physically demanding garments to produce.  Many were fully boned like this example and required many boning channels all worked with small backstitches through three layers of fabric: one layer of outer fabric and two layers of linen canvas.  Each section of the stays was worked individually and boned, then sewn together with small, tight whipstitches.  Leather is used to bind the upper and lower edges to keep the bones from penetrating to the outside, and used to cover the unsightly seam lines joining the sections.  The binding is also sewn with backstitch, which requires either significant strength or additional tools.

Although it is believed stays were made primarily by men, a record from the Proceedings of the Old Bailey provides an example of one Eleanor Newport who identifies herself as a staymaker.  It appears that some women were willing to take on this arduous task.

Stays, 1740-1760

Reproduced from Collection of Colonial Williamsburg example

Accession #1966-188

Wool, coarse linen, bleached linen, reed, leather, linen thread, silk thread

Women of all social levels wore stays.  The quality of materials and workmanship, and whether the stays were new or second-hand determined the social status of the consumer.  This example seems likely for a middleclass woman being of fine wool satin (better than linen, but not so fine as silk) with leather binding.

HOOP PETTICOAT

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The hoop petticoat is the other main shaping element to the architecture of fashionable dress.  This apparatus was not so widespread amongst classes as stays and denoted a level of status and fashionability.  Hoops were instrumental in achieving the correct and stylish silhouette associated with much of the eighteenth century.

Made of serviceable linen the hoop petticoat was sewn with a combination of running and slipstitches.  To prevent the cane hoops from penetrating through the petticoat fabric they were encased in strips of linen and sewn directly to the inside of the garment.

Hoop petticoats did not experience the same level of stress that stays did, nor the frequent laundering of shifts.  Hoops were, therefore, comparatively less labour intensive and more roughly constructed with raw edges of fabric frequently left exposed inside the garment.

Hoop Petticoat, 1740-1770

Reproduced from Scottish National Collection example

Accession #K.2002.504

Bleached linen, linen tape, reed, linen thread

The hoop petticoat created the lower half of the popular mid-eighteenth century silhouette characterized by skirts that were wide at the sides and comparatively flat from front to back.

JACKET & PETTICOAT ENSEMBLES

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JACKETS

Jackets were popular clothing items for informal events and day-to-day activities.  If made new they provided a less expensive, but still fashionable, alternative to a full gown.  One could thus have several jackets in different fabrics to “mix and match” for the cost of a single dress.  The growing popularity of cotton, less costly than silk, wool or linen, greatly facilitated this to an increasing degree over the course of the century.

Jackets were also frequently made-up from an older gown as a means of conserving and extending the life of costly fabric.  This was practiced by people of all social levels and often occurred more frequently than commissions for new garments.  Indeed, it is argued that altering, remaking, and mending of clothing formed the largest part of a seamstress’ or tailor’s workload.

The pet en l’air is reproduced from an artefact showing significant alteration as having originally been a sack dress.  The printed cotton (calico) jacket is reproduced from a seemingly unaltered jacket.

QUILTED PETTICOAT

Quilted petticoats were both functional and decorative.  Filled with wool batting and lined with woven wool fabric they provided significant warmth.  Stitched with designs made from popular motifs they were also attractive, fashionable garments.

Such garments comprised a significant branch of the ready-made clothing trade because they required little to no custom fitting on the client.  In the workshop the layers of the petticoat were laid and stretched together in a frame, then quilted by several women at a time using small running stitches at 10-20 stitches per inch.  The quilted design of the example here consists of approximately 24,000 stitches.

Once the quilting was completed the length was made into a garment by seaming up the centre back, pleating the upper edge into a waistband, and hemming the lower edge with binding.

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Pet en l’air, mid-18th century

Reproduced from Museum of London and Patterns of Fashion examples

Museum of London Accession #A12414

Silk taffeta, bleached linen, silk thread, linen thread, linen tape

The pet en l’air was a shortened version of the sack dress style seen to the left.  Like the jacket to the immediate left, this garment was a less formal style than a full-length gown.

Quilted Petticoat, c. 1750-1775

Reproduced from Colonial Williamsburg and Museum of London examples

Colonial Williamsburg Accession #1985-118; Museum of London Accession #47.44/11

Silk satin, wool batting, plainweave wool, silk thread, wool tape

This was another common item of clothing for women of all social levels.  Class difference was, again, indicated through the materials used and the level of workmanship.  This particular example was likely common for a woman of some means and higher being made of silk and quilted in a decorative pattern.

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Printed Cotton Jacket & Petticoat, mid-18th century

Reproduced from Patterns of Fashion and Museum of London examples

Museum of London Accession #35.449

Reproduction printed cotton, bleached linen, silk thread, linen thread, wool tape, linen tape, silk ribbon

Such ensembles as this were a popular choice for informal and everyday wear, worn in and out of the house.  This example is significant for being made of printed cotton (chintz/calico) since this textile became increasingly popular and fashionable over the course of the eighteenth century.

SEWING FOR WOMEN

Women’s clothing was subject to much more and frequent altering and remodelling than those of their male counterparts.  This may be reflected in the construction and seaming techniques used to produce them.  The seams of men’s clothes were primarily sewn with backstitch, which is a strong stitch difficult and time consuming to rip out.  Women’s clothes on the other hand were sewn with the kinds of stitches and seams that would facilitate easy disassembling while keeping the garment sturdy in its present incarnation.

The process of making women’s clothes could involve considerable interaction between mantua maker and client since gowns were at least partially draped and fully fitted onto the client herself, over her undergarments.  First, the linen lining was made up and fitted, and then the dress draped and and mounted onto it.  Sleeves were sewn at the underarm with backstitch (for strength at a stress point) prior to the fitting, then pleated and tacked down over the shoulder directly on the client.

The principle seaming technique used on women’s garments was the lapped seam.  This consisted of folding under the seam allowance of one piece, laying it over the other and sewing through the layers with a running stitch that was short and unobtrusive on the outside of the garment and long on the underside.

Other sewing techniques used extensively in women’s garments are running stitches for long dress and skirt seams, and slip stitches for bodice construction.  Both of these stitches are relatively quick to execute and rip out again.

The particular method of sewing the seams of the dress through the lining is impossible to replicate with a sewing machine, and can only be achieved with hand sewing.  There is a level of fabric manipulation possible with hands that machines do not afford.

WASTE NOT, WANT NOT

The greatest expense in purchasing new clothes in the eighteenth century lay in the fabric.  Labour was very cheap in comparison to the cost of cloth.  Fabric was also very narrow, averaging only 18-20 inches in width (modern standards are 45-60 inches in width).  Fabric was, therefore, cut as economically as possible.

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As a result of these two conditions it was necessary to piece together lengths of fabric for skirts and small pieces of material to corners of garment pieces.  Because of the disparity between the cost of fabric and labour it was less costly to have a seamstress spend the time on this extra sewing rather than waste any material.

DRESSES

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SACK DRESS

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This dress style derives its name from the billowing fabric at the back, which falls in double box pleats from the shoulders.  The tight fit of the bodice at the front is achieved with the bodice lining, which is fitted all around the upper torso.  Frequently, the centre back of the bodice lining was left open with eyelets worked in the edges and was laced up to attain the desired fit.  This construction technique allowed some flexibility for different wearers, or perhaps pregnancy.

The robings (fabric bands on the front edges of the bodice) are cut in one with the bodice.  To create the effect, these are pleated and folded down so as to look like separately applied pieces.

Sack Dress, c. 1750-1770

Reproduced from Museum of London and Patterns of Fashion examples

Accession #53.101/14

Silk taffeta, bleached linen, silk thread, linen thread, wool tape, linen tape

The sack dress, or robe a la francaise, was an import to England from France where it was the ubiquitous style for women’s dresses.  As France was the arbiter of European fashion in the eighteenth century, it became popular in England as well and is looked upon as the dominant silhouette for much of the century, c. 1730-1780.

MANTUA

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The back of the mantua is cut all in one with no waistline seam and snugly pleated to the back.  This technique is known as ‘en fourreau’.  The skirt of the mantua was pieced to the dress back and then pleated up into the waistline of the bodice, which starts at the side back.

Mantua, 1750-1760

Reproduced from Berrington Hall example (formerly Snowshill collection)

Accession #SNO 7

Silk taffeta, bleached linen, silk thread, linen thread, linen tape

The mantua is widely considered as distinctly English and is the most common style found in English collections of surviving garments from this period.

The mantua lent itself to both formal and informal uses.  The example shown here, however, made from silk and for a middleclass woman would have been most appropriate as formal attire.

Towards the end of the eighteenth century the mantua became popular in France where it was known as the robe a l’anglaise.

FASTENINGS

In the eighteenth century there were no zippers, Velcro, or even snaps.  How then were women’s garments fastened?

Petticoats were most often tied at the sides with the extending ends of waist bindings:

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Some bodices were laced or buttoned up the front like the cotton jacket to the left and the riding jacket to the right.

However, the most common method was pinning.  The triangular forepart of the bodice (stomacher) was pinned to the front of the stays, then the front edges of the dress or jacket bodice pinned over top of that.  The pins went through only the upper layer of fabric on the stays, and the quantity of boning kept the wearer’s skin from harm underneath.

This image depicts a mantua maker's shop from Diderot's "Encyclopedie of trades" c. 1769

This image depicts a mantua maker’s shop from Diderot’s “Encyclopedie of trades” c. 1769

RIDING HABIT

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Riding habits were styled after men’s fashionable jackets and waistcoats.  They are generally thought, therefore, to have remained the preserve of male tailors.  However, there are a number of examples that have been constructed using the same lapped techniques as for women’s clothes, which are not seen on men’s.  This is highly sugestive that women also made riding habits for other women.  The example reprodced is speculated as being one such.  It seems logical too for a middle class woman to commission as seamstress or tailoress since her labour would be less costly than a male tailor’s.

Although this example uses basically the same techniques as other garments the riding jacket’s construction differed from other women’s clothes in two significant ways.  Firstly, the jacket is not mounted and seamed directly to the lining.  The two layers are made separately then sewn together around the edges.  Secondly, the interior of the riding jacket is more cleanly finished than that of other garments.

The riding jacket also includes a feature not seen on any of the other garments displayed here: hand worked buttonholes.  These are made using the buttonhole stitch, which is like a form of knottin.  There are twenty-five buttonholes worked on this riding jacket.

The method of making the buttonholes is peculiar and suggestive.  They are made in the fabric of the jacket before the lining is set in.  The lining is then slit behind the buttonhole and tacked down.  It seems likely this is to facilitate removal of the lining should it need to be replaced.

Riding Habit, c. 1730-1760

Reproduced from Museum of London example

Accession #A12984

Worsted wool, silk pile velvet with cotton backing, silk/wool blend, bleached linen, linen canvas, silk thread, silk buttonhole twist, wooden button forms.

Inspired by fashionable make dress, riding habits were slower to change in style than other women’s fashionable dress, thus the possible thirty-year span for this example.  This example includes a false waistcoat front that is sewn into the sides seams of the lining.

Such ensembles were worn for more than just riding.  These habits were populare walking and travelling clothes, and could be worn for informal visits.  This type of outfit may even be the pre-cursor of the woma’s suit.

PROCESS

This section of the exhibit shows some of what went into the project.

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A display of sewing tools, fabric swatches, and “Barbara Johnson’s Album of Fashions and Fabrics”

PROJECT PARAMETERS

This reproduction project is part of a much larger whole that is my MA work and eventual thesis.  My research began, and continues, with exploring  both primary and secondary literary sources.

The next part was object-based research, most of which took place over summer 2008 in England.  I spent 3-5 days per week over the months of July and August in the Museum of London’s costume stores examining extant garments one after another.  I spent an average of 1 hour with each garment taking notes according to a template I drew up for myself and shooting an average of 10-12 photographs of construction details of each artefact.

The third component is this reproduction project, which represents experiential research and data collection.  In addition to reproducing garments I also replicated certain aspects of an early modern seamstress’ working experience.  The garments are made from historically appropriate materials, and constructed using equally appropriate techniques and processes.

Beyond this, all the work was executed by either natural or candlelight in order to get some idea of a pre-electricity experience of time and working conditions.

I also wore an outfit (basically) appropriate for a modestly successful seamstress of the time.  While planning the project, I realized that being “corseted” would be important to the experience as nearly all women of the period wore stays under their clothing.  I also happened to have a costume/reproduction dress on hand that I had made several years ago.  The pattern for this dress was taken from Janet Arnold’s Patterns of Fashion, and so derives from an actual artefact garment.  I also wore two cotton petticoats, a neckerchief, stockings, and a pair of period inspired shoes.

I worked 10-12 hrs/day, 3 or 4 days/week for 5 months sitting on an uncushioned wooden kitchen chair.  I also refrained from bathing on my sewing days in order to heighten the corporeal experience.  I kept a journal of the process along with thoughts, impressions, and questions that arose from the experience.

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A display of stitching samples, various construction materials and tools, and design template for the quilted petticoat

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A display of object research materials and notes with the pattern drafted for the cotton jacketThe seamstress at work

 

The seamtress at work

The seamtress at work

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Work Ensemble: corset, dress, petticoats

Dress and outer petticoat reproduced from Patterns of Fashion by Janet Arnold

This is the ensemble I wore while sewing the reproductions.  The corset was particularly necessary to experience posture, movement, and fatigue similar to an eighteenth century needlewoman.

Although the hard wooden kitchen chair I sat on was uncomfortable, the straight-backed posture created by the corset made sitting on furniture like a sofa much more uncomfortable.

The corset also made bending at the waist very difficult.  This meant that whenever I dropped something on the floor I had to first stand up, then lower my body as a whole to pick it up.  I was unable to bend and reach down for what I had dropped.

Finally, the corset had the unexpected result of making me frequently very warm.  This may have been accentuated by the petticoats, but was primarily located in the upper torso region.  Sunny days were particularly intense.

 

FIN

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32 Comments »

  1. Ingrid Mida Said:

    I just discovered your website and am in awe of your beautiful work. I make miniature paper versions of historical fashion garments, but maybe it is time to go big. I love what you do.

  2. Sara Said:

    What an awesome exhibition! I would love to see more pictures of the completed garments. Would you mind defining the slip-stitch for me? I’m familiar with most of the stitches that you mention, but I haven’t seen that one. I enjoy sewing by hand, so it might be useful for my projects also. THe riding habit is my favorite, I think. I also love the dress that you wore while sewing these garments.

  3. Hepziba Said:

    Hi,

    I just found out what you had done and am freaking jealous! I love your work and admire your spirit! I wish I had the time to do what you’ve done, for I so much love to know everything there is to know about reproducing historical clothing! It’s so very beautifull and I’m very sorry I can’t go to your exhibition to see your work and instructions first hand. For I live in Holland.

    I am a member of Your Wardrobe Unlocked and hope you can write an article or seminars about your work and experiences. I would dearly love to read it! I hope you will someday share it with us.

    In the meantime, keep up the good work! Respect!!!

    Hepziba

  4. Zip Zip Said:

    Terrific! I’ve been hoping to see the exhibition online, and here it is!
    Sure hope you publish your thesis: I have a feeling you’d have a number of buyers wanting to read it, along with addenda about your experience, images of your stitching samples and garments as they progressed, and so on.

    Thank you again,

    Natalie in Kentucky

  5. FeFe Said:

    Bravo!

  6. Jennifer Said:

    Hi!

    I happened across this website and i was blown away by everything, all the thought and process that went into it and ofcourse and garments! Of course i cant see them up close but what i saw from the photos was amazing. I am a high school student doing a project on 18th century fashion and this really made me think at what things to look at and it gave me a really good veiw of some of the clothes they wore and how complcated it was to sew them. This website was great!

    Thanks!

    Jennifer

  7. Hello!
    I was researching 18th century clothing for a side project and bumped into a site that talked about your exhibition. Could resist to have a look. I admire your dedication to veracity. I create clothing using old technics myself. Though for a different time period and different style. So I know how it can be demanding. Mainly when you cannot find the right material or tool.
    Thank you for this little piece of dream. If your exhibition pass by France, my mother would love to see it. This is truly amazing. Garance

  8. Lauren Said:

    This is all truly amazing! Thankyou for posting and updating and being awesome!

  9. Anni Said:

    Wow. Your dedication is truly amazing. I am in highschool and am extremly interested in this time period. Sometimes I think it was a mistake that I was born now. You’ve inspired me and I think I might try a small project of my own.

    Wish me luck,
    Anni

  10. brocadegoddess Said:

    Anni,

    I used to think the same thing – that I was born in the wrong time period. I have since changed my mind. The clothing depicted here, and most of what has survived to today was worn by only about 5-10% of the population. It’s unlikely you would ever have gotten to wear anything like these garments – you would have been lucky to have had the job of making them! In fact, you’d be lucky to have made it into your teens considering the rates of infant and child mortality. You, yourself would have a 1 in 3 chance of dying during childbirth.

    Now, instead, I wish I could travel back in time (then return home safely) in order to see, hear, smell, etc what life was really like – we can just never get quite close enough. I would prefer if people today dressed like fashionable people of the 18th century, rather than living back then; plus, with modern production methods and the low cost of fabric a lot more people would be able to afford it now than their historical counterparts could have!

    Be thankful that you have the time and resources to dabble in the past from the comfort of your modern conveniences. Enjoy, and good luck!

  11. Cornelia Said:

    Marvelous work! Your attention to detail and the perfection of your hand stitching is amazing. I would love to see your exhibition first hand. Bravo!

  12. Jessica K Said:

    I just stumbled across your page and am excessively excited to find a fellow costumer who is Alberta based! (Or at least exhibiting work in Alberta, in my enthusiasm I have only skimmed every page). I was wondering which programs you took and where (aside from the already mentioned time you spent in London at the Museum). I have been searching for programs too, I found a great costume design program in Montreal but aside from that it seems that there is so few learning opportunities for historical fashion in this Hockey Obsessed Province. I would love to hear more about your exploits.

    Jessica

    • brocadegoddess Said:

      Hi Jessica,

      First off, I don’t consider myself a costumer, I’m a dress historian. This project was an unconventional form of research for my thesis on pre-industrial garment construction and the working lives of eighteenth-century English seamstresses.

      I mention this to you because it may make a difference as to what sort of program you’re looking for. If costume design is what you’re looking to do, check out university theatre departments. I know there’s a decent one at the U of A.

      My MA degree is out of the U of A, but I’m in the Human Ecology Dept. My supervisor is joint between Human Ecology and History and Classics. The Human Ecology dept has a good clothing and textiles collection, and a couple options for clothing and textiles studies. There is a well-developed textile conservation program. There is also a quickly developing Material Culture program, along with some apparel design. They have a few dress history courses in the dept, are introducing more Material Culture courses (of which dress is a part), and encouraging more students to do internships and practicums with the onsite collection.

      For me, this was the perfect place to go, as I plan to go into either museum curatorship or become a history of dress/material culture professor (I’ll decide which sometime during the PhD). The U of A is just about the only institution in Canada where you can pursue this course of study, and the only with a collection geared towards use by students.

      Hope this helps!

      p.s. I’m not actually ‘based out of Alberta’, at least not anymore. I’m from Toronto, went out there for school, and have since moved back to Ontario. However, I donated all of these reproductions to the clothing and textiles collection at the U of A to be used as teaching aides. I strongly suggest you go visit them sometime, and if you’d like I’m sure they’d let you play with my repros!

  13. Christine Said:

    Hello,

    Your work is amazing, your dedication astounding! Thank you for sharing this. I too wish I could have seen the exhibition and feel out of date posting this at the moment. I am currently writing a novel about a seamstress working in 1770 Paris and this more than illuminates the sewing process – it is basically a dream come true having stumbled upon your site. Would you possibly be interested in being an advisor on the project (with proper credits of course)? Once the book is published, I would like to have a dress made up for book signings and other promotions, if you would be interested in that as well…? I would be happy to forward you a synopsis and the first pages of the novel if that helps.
    My Best,
    Christine

  14. robert F. trent Said:

    I’m interested in the Raspal painting of sewing ladies. Do you know what museum it’s in? I’m doing an article for Historic Deerfield about a linen press they bought with about 50 hanging pins in it!! Thanks1!

    • brocadegoddess Said:

      Hi Robert,

      I’m so sorry for the long delay in replying, but have no information to give you. I got the image off the internet, so your guess is as good as mine!

  15. […] These dresses were used to create a display “Rockin’ the Rococo” – Inside-Out: Exploring 18th Century Garment Construction through Reproduction, an exhibition at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada (March 9 – April 26, […]

  16. Sylvia van Dam Said:

    I don’t know how up to date this website is… I am doing research on 18th century jackets worn by peasant women on the island of Walcheren in the Netherlands. These look like the 18th century caraco but are made from one piece of material, which means that it starts like a T-shaped banyan. The sleeves are never cut seperately. I wonder if you have ever come across such a type of garment.

    • brocadegoddess Said:

      Hi Sylvia,

      I don’t recall personally coming across such a garment, but the cutting technique makes me think of bed jackets. From what I understand, in Britain and the American colonies, bed jackets were a form of ‘undress’ for middling class and higher women, and a practical and inexpensive option for working class women. I have also seen if referred to as a short gown. An example may be seen in the book “Costume close-up: clothing construction and pattern 1750-1790” published by Colonial Williamsburg, authored by Linda Baumgarten (who is awesome!).

      I don’t know much of anything about 18th century costume in the Netherlands, so I don’t know if it’s the same thing, but I’m sure it would be worth checking out!

      Hope that helps some,

      Carolyn

  17. Kim Said:

    Beautiful work! Very impressive!

  18. Kara Leistyna Said:

    Beautiful! Very impressive. Thank you.

  19. Camille Said:

    Excellent job and a wonderful resource.

  20. Ava Said:

    What an incredible accomplishment! I really admire your dedication. I ran across your site through Kendra’s Demode site some time ago, and just hunted up the link again, because I’m in the process of doing a somewhat similar project, on a MUCH smaller scale. At the undergraduate level (though at a very unusual college), I’m doing an independent study project, reproduction of late 1830s women’s clothing with scholarly documentation. There will be an annotated bibliography of doom, I think.

    It’s wonderful to see such a large-scale example as yours, of a project linking historic sewing and academic research. Very encouraging! I wonder if you know anyone else documenting this kind of project online? I’d love to see more such things! Thanks for the inspiration. =)

  21. Robin Said:

    I am so grateful that there are people like you out there to do this kind of research.
    Thank you for posting it.

  22. […] https://brocadegoddess.wordpress.com/exhibition/ […]

  23. Barbara Said:

    This is a real find, this site. Congratulations on your hard work.
    I am working on a novel set in London 1734-1744. My heroine starts out as a lady’s maid but later marries a provincial surgeon. She would have adapted her employer’s clothes for her employer to wear, adapted her employer’s cast-off clothes (her vails or prequisites) for herself to wear and later would have made – or at least adapted – some of her own clothes. You have given me raw material and inspiration. Thank you

  24. joseph hisey Said:

    Your work is truly amazing and humbling. My attempts at the 19th century pale by comparison.
    Thank you for sharing your passion.

  25. Do you know which volume the “mantua maker’s shop from Diderot’s “Encyclopedie of trades” c. 1769″ picture is taken from ? Is it from Diderot`s Encyclopedie volume 1 or 2?
    I see it for sale on amazon and want to purchase this book but do not know which volume this picture comes from. Thank you. If you are unsure of which volume it is in, then it might be safe for me to buy both.

  26. Barbara Said:

    If you can possibly afford to, buy the complete set. Apart from my feeling it a sin to break sets of books anyway, I am CERTAIN that you will no sooner have the one volume than you will want / need to look up an entry in the other! Such is Murphy’s Law!!! {I was only able to buy one volume of a 2 vol set of a 19th C history of Clerkenwell and I regularly curse the blighter who sold, lost, discarded, the other volume.)

  27. Ian Said:

    It would have been polite of you to ask my permission before using my image of pinning a bodice closed and to actually credit it!
    Ian, The Staymaker

    • brocadegoddess Said:

      My sincerest apologies, Ian. I was completely new to both blogging and curating when I did all this and pretty ignorant at the time about the etiquette involved in either. I can’t do anything now about an exhibition that happened 5 years ago (that was purely for academic credit, there was no money involved whatsoever besides my own – just so you know) but will remove the image from the blog.

  28. Karen Said:

    I just stumbled on this site, spent all morning reading everything(!) and I’m so impressed with your exhibition. I’ve been a costumer for thirty years, but do most of my sewing by machine. Congratulations on this wonderful project! I know it’s been several years, but I just discovered it.


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