manteau-or not (inc patterns)

We tend to think of all open robes of the 1680s to early eighteenth century as “mantua” or “manteau.” However there are at least two documentable pattern types to over gowns of this era.

The mantua as often described is a garment with a very unique construction. It puts all the side skirt shaping on a single wedge of fabric, made of several widths of fabric, entirely in line with the front panels.

To create my own pattern I collected and redrew every pattern of an extant garment published and redrew them to the same scale (1/4) and overlaid them to understand the interplay between each pattern piece. I ignored facings, cuffs, and petticoats and focused on the over garments.

All current “mantua” patterns overlaid to show the proportions of each.

Most garments with a straight front and back seam allow for narrower extensions on the front and back of the skirts, and this is true from the sixteenth century to modern times. The four gore skirt is built on this basic shape.

This distinction does seem to be borne out by Holme who wrote of garments made by a tailor and does differentiate between a gown and a mantua, later explaining that they are equally diverse:

“Of the Taylor, with the parts of the Doublet, Coat, Breeches, Cloak, Womens Gowns, Mantues, Wastcoats, and Petticoats… Of the Semster, Laundress, Needle-work Mistress, with the severall terms of Needle-work.

The academy of armory, or, A storehouse of armory and blazon containing the several variety of created beings, and how born in coats of arms, both foreign and domestick : with the instruments used in all trades and sciences, together with their their terms of art : also the etymologies, definitions, and historical observations on the same, explicated and explained according to our modern language : very usefel [sic] for all gentlemen, scholars, divines, and all such as desire any knowledge in arts and sciencesHolme, Randle, 1627-1699. https://quod.lib.umich.edu/e/eebo/A44230.0001.001/1:7.3.3?rgn=div3;view=fulltext

This more traditional and sustained pattern type of dividing the side fullness between the front and back can be seen in the patterns of Albayzeta from 1720. Included are several “ropa de levantar.”

edited from: Geometria y trazas pertenecientes al oficio de sastres donde se contiene el modo y orden de cortar todo genero de vestidos españoles, y algunos Estrangeros, sacandolos de qualquier ancharia de tela, por la Vara de Aragon y explicada esta con todas las de estos Reynos, y las medidas que usan en otras Provincias estrangeras
Front Cover
Juan Albayzeta
por Francisco Revilla, 1720 – 95 pages


This pattern appears to be for a garment with a very long train, though there seems to also be a secondary hemline drawn where the skirt back would just touch the ground- most of the patterns for “rope de levantar of this book are of the shorter type.

Of the extant garments that have been patterned the Danish gown most closely resembles this. This garment has not been digitised and is not currently on display.

Moden i 1700-årene
Author: Ellen Andersen
Publisher: [København] : Nationalmuseet, cop. 1977.
Series: Danske dragter


It is possible to see the seam lines in the first photo that confirms the pattern draft that puts narrow wedges on both the side front and side back seams.

(ETA photos of details:)

My redrawing after a pattern in Moden i 1700-årene by Ellen Andersen

Moden i 1700-årene
Author: Ellen Andersen
Publisher: [København] : Nationalmuseet, cop. 1977.
Series: Danske dragter


This also seems to be the construction of a Norwegian garment that shares the same heavily pleated sleeve shape.

There is an open robe in Norway’s National Museum that seems to be of the same construction but is in fact a single wedge each side but it is in line with the back panel.

Datering: Ca. 1720
Betegnelse: Drakt
Inventarnr.: OK-dep-01160
Eier og samling: Nasjonalmuseet, Designsamlingene
Foto: Nasjonalmuseet / Larsen, Frode Last ned.


It seems to be fairly unique to this garment to align the single wedges to the back. Could this be a mistake- many dresses of the nineteenth century have the gores reversed at the sides- or deliberate. The skirt is narrow and is worn with a very solid and full underskirt. This arrangement could mean the best display of the brocade pattern was at the side back.

(ETA: detail photos of the grainlines)

Of the mantua type we are left with several garments in both English and American museums.

The earliest example appears to be the Kimberley gown held at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. The earliest date appears to be 1695.

Date:late 17th century
Medium:wool, metal thread
Credit Line:Rogers Fund, 1933
Accession Number:33.54a, b


This garment has been pattern by both Nora Waugh and Blanche Payne, they differ slightly but the principle is the same and in both patterns the side fullness is entirely in line with the front panel.

My redrawing after a pattern in The Cut of Women’s Clothes, 1600-1930 by Norah Waugh- note there is no join line in this draft.

The cut of women’s clothes, 1600-1930
Author: Norah Waugh; Margaret Woodward
Publisher: New York : Routledge : Theatre Arts Books, [1968] ©1968

My redrawing after a pattern in History of Costume by Blanche Payne-note this join line is in the original draft.

History of costume, from the ancient Egyptians to the twentieth century. Drawings by Elizabeth Curtis.
Author: Blanche Payne
Publisher: New York, Harper & Row [1965]


The next garment that has been patterned is from Shrewsbury c1710.

Mantua.18th century (1710). Shrewsbury Museums Service (SHYMS: T/1973/6/1). Image sy14193


This was patterned by Janet Arnold (Patterns of Fashion 1: Englishwomen’s Dresses and Their Construction C. 1660-1860).

This garment also uses widths of fabric to create a single wedge extension each side and in line with the front panels.

My redrawing after a pattern in Patterns of Fashion 1 by Janet Arnold

Patterns of fashion. . 1. : Englishwomen’s dresses and their construction c.1660-1860.
Author: Janet Arnold
Publisher: London : Macmillan, 1977.


(ETA: I have divided the pattern so that the shapes can be compared more easily to the other garments- this garment is made in continual lengths from front hem to back hem with the sleeves not cut out but rather shaped by pleating. The pattern can be easily put back as the dividing lines are the only diagonal lines in the draft.)

Of special interest is the length of the front of the mantua. It is quite short (see image of overlaid pattern drafts.). Holme confirms that this is a common feature of mantua.

“A mantua is a kind of loose Coat without stayes [sic] in it, the Body part and Sleeves are of many fashions as i have mentioned in the Gown Body; but the skirt is sometimes no longer than the Knees, others have them down to the Heels. The short skirt is open before, and behind to the middle.”

The academy of armory, or, A storehouse of armory and blazon containing the several variety of created beings, and how born in coats of arms, both foreign and domestick : with the instruments used in all trades and sciences, together with their their terms of art : also the etymologies, definitions, and historical observations on the same, explicated and explained according to our modern language : very usefel [sic] for all gentlemen, scholars, divines, and all such as desire any knowledge in arts and sciences Holme, Randle, 1627-1699. https://quod.lib.umich.edu/e/eebo/A44230.0001.001/1:7.3.3?rgn=div3;view=fulltext

This next garment from 1720-1730 and is housed at the Museum of London and patterned by Zillah Halls in Women’s Costumes 1600-1750: London Museum. This is made from chartreuse silk and is again of this single wedge each side construction. This garment is not currently digitised or on display.

Women’s costumes 1600-1750,
Author: Zillah Halls; London Museum.
Publisher: London, H.M.S.O., 1969.

My redrawing after a pattern in Women’s Costume 1600-1750 by Zillah Halls

Women’s costumes 1600-1750,
Author: Zillah Halls; London Museum.
Publisher: London, H.M.S.O., 1969.


This mantua is again shorter than a matching petticoat would be (see image

Another garment at the Museum of London was patterned by Nora Waugh, but not photographed. It is from 1735-1745 and uses the same construction. The train has been pinned up to the waist in the illustration but the pattern does not indicate any change in the construction.

The cut of women’s clothes, 1600-1930
Author: Norah Waugh; Taylor & Francis.
Publisher: Boca Raton, FL : Routledge, an imprint of Taylor and Francis, [2013]. ©1987.

My redrawing after a pattern in Cut of Women’s Clothes, 1600-190 by Norah Waugh

The cut of women’s clothes, 1600-1930
Author: Norah Waugh; Taylor & Francis.
Publisher: Boca Raton, FL : Routledge, an imprint of Taylor and Francis, [2013]. ©1987.


And again this mantua is shorter at the front than the anticipated petticoat hemline (see image of overlaid pattern drafts.)

These are unfortunately the only garments with patterns I have been able to find but there are several more that have been catalogued and the skirt layout captured in photographs.

The Metropolitan Museum has another early mantua example and the photographs do suggest the construction is of a kind- comparing the alignment of the pattern to the outside of the side back join in fabric shows it is in line with the hem not the seam.

Date:ca. 1708
Medium:silk, metal
Credit Line:Purchase, Rogers Fund, Isabel Shults Fund and Irene Lewisohn
Bequest, 1991
Accession Number:1991.6.1a, b


A mantua in the Victoria & Albert Museum in London has been dated to 1733-1740 based on fabric (earlier date) and cut (later date). This gown has been photographed to show the construction of the skirt. This photo shows the brocade has been reversed from below hip level of the back panels and most of the side panels. This is so that only the face of the brocade is seen when worn and pinned in place.

Place of origin:
Spitalfields (probably, woven) Great Britain (made)
Date: 1733-1734 (woven) 1735-1740 (made)
Artist/Maker: Unknown
Materials and Techniques: Brocaded silk, hand-sewn with spun silk and spun threads, lined with linen, brown paper lining for cuffs, brass, canvas and pleated silk
Credit Line: Given by Gladys Windsor Fry
Museum number: T.324&A-1985


The Lincolnshire Mantua has been dated to 1735 based on the fabric and over all pattern pieces. This particular mantua has the train and most side panels reversed so that when pinned for display only the face of the brocade is seen.

The Lincoln Mantua


Mantua from after these examples can be recognised by the folding of the train which follows the folding of the Lincoln mantua and the floral brocades mantua in the V&A as above.

One of the earliest is a blue silk mantua at the Victoria and Albert museum. From the 1720s it retains the extra length in the train despite being pinned up.

Place of origin: Spitalfields (textile, weaving) England (mantua, sewing)
Date: ca. 1720 (weaving) 1720-1730 (sewing)
Artist/Maker: Unknown
Materials and Techniques: Silk, silk thread, silver-gilt thread; hand-woven brocading, hand-sewn.
Museum number: T.88 to C-19788


A brown broacaded silk mantua is also of this earlier type and is dated to 1732-1740.

Place of origin: Spitalfields (textile, weaving) Great Britain (ensemble, sewing)
Date: ca. 1732 (weaving) 1735-1740 (sewing) 1870 – 1910 (altered)
Artist/Maker: Unknown
Materials and Techniques: Silk, silk thread; hand-woven brocade, hand sewn
Museum number: T.9&A-1971


Other garments described as mantua are harder to confirm from the photos.

The earliest is held at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art with a date of 1700. It is perhaps the most stunning example of its kind. A deep rich blue silk satin, the petticoat completely covered in metal embroidery, the sleeves and stomacher ditto, only the train seems to be more sparsely covered.

Woman’s Dress (Mantua) with Stomacher and Petticoat
Italy, circa 1700
Costumes; principal attire (entire body)
Silk satin with metallic-thread embroidery
Center back length (Dress): 67 in. (170.18 cm)
Length (Stomacher): 16 1/4 in. (41.28 cm) Center
back length (Petticoat): 41 3/4 in. (106.05 cm)
Costume Council Fund (M.88.39a-c)


A stunning embroidered mantua is held at the National Museum of Wales, dated to the 1720s though much of the train has been removed during the nineteenth century.

ITEM NUMBER 23.189.1
MEASUREMENTS height (mm):1400 width (mm):2000 (max) depth (mm):1500 (max)
TECHNIQUES metal thread embroidery hand sewn weaving
MATERIAL damask (silk) metal thread silver parchment flax (spun and twisted) silk (spun and twisted)


A pale blue damask(?) mantua is held at the Manchester Art Gallery and appears to also be sewn so as to allow the face of the brocade to always be arranged outwards.

mantua dress
Acknowledgement: © Manchester
City Galleries
Created by:
Created: 1740-1742


Another blue and silver mantua is held at the Kyoto Costume Institute and again has skirt panels reversed so as to always display the face of the brocade.

Dress (Mantua) 1740-50s – England
Material Blue silk taffeta brocade with botanical pattern, buttons to tack train; matching petticoat.
Dimension Length from the hips 183cm (Train)
Inventory Number(s) AC10788 2002-29AB


While this garment has been dated to the 1750s i believe it is somewhat earlier. The skirt as displayed does not fit well suggesting it was not worn over wide hoops. The train has been folded and appears to show the fabric has been reversed in a similar manner to the above folded mantua trains. So it could be 1720-1740.

the bodice with long sweeping train of elaborately folded damask buttoning in swags onto two silk covered buttons at the small of the back, the bodice re pleated as a closed robe, the petticoats re-strung, shown here worn with a stomacher which is part of lot 141


More working women of Koeln

It is frustratingly difficult to search for books printed in Koeln of the first half of the sixteenth century and it should not be. This was a hub of printing and publishing. But still.

Des Kunckels odder Spinnrockens Evangelia vom Montag an, biß auff Sambstag, mitsampt den Glosen, zu ehren den Frawen beschrieben
Johann von Aich, 1557

There is so much going on here! And it’ll take a while to unpack everything except that this pretty much confirms a few ideas I had based on the sheer number of headgear items from the inventories.

Of note are the two wulst like headdresses (one in each plate). Please do note they are not simply rear view of the headdress iconic to this region, there are no wings. Weiditz gives us that view at it has a button on it.

Also two examples of a twisted unshaped headdress (second plate here) that looks for all the world like the type of headdress in the Lemberg finds.

There are also simple braids. So with the iconic headdress and these we are on track to this being a fairly representative example of dress the artist(s) knew.

But look at those kleyr! The circular cape like outer garments with little clasps are very 1520s but then look! Gathered kleyr (aka goller aka partlet)! With no centre front opening! And they are simply tied under the arms- or have a short narrow strip that is otherwise fastened front to back. But this is different to most woodcuts outside this region that show a section that fits under the arms. And there are portraits with this type of closed necked kleyr.

Also the mix of guarding- either deep or not at all. And all the rear fullness of the skirts. So good. I mean I knew, but it’s nice to have it on every single image that shows the side and back of dress.

And of course how can we ignore the pin on outer sleeve. Or it looks like a button. Pinned is more frequently depicted but given how few depictions we have of the sleeve on the outside I’m still hedging bets.

So I’ll continue to look for printed works from Koeln- note using the era appropriate “Collen” still doesn’t help look for books as I can’t get the boolean AND to work in Archive.org and there is a bit of fuzziness in google books when organising by date and I have mostly exhausted various universities.

But this is a wonderful addition.

modern tech to the rescue

I need to print out my pattern book at mini size because I really need to do some old school type of editing.

Right now I can’t even edit my text as the images are too darn big. And I do have to draw all the construction images by hand and add in seam allowances for everything. So I need to take the images out and use a board to let me know where to add images later.

I am pondering also scale. I am definitely getting my “how to read the Spanish Manuals” in there because it actually is really easy and weirdly is very easy to convert to metric.

But I finally got the base of my new perlenwerk design sorted. But I need to change it a bit. It looks nice but I need some nice clean svg files and while sure I have, I also need to convert to 12″ by 12″.

I have been hunting out super hi resolution images of pearlwork from outside of NRW to try and show how I am following the track I am for my work. There are several ways to use pearls and one technique is not the same as the other. Luckily I have found one more example of the extreme dimension I need for one project 🙂

bad news is there are very few really good high res images. Good news is I managed to find a really good photocopier and a book at one stage that is a zoomed view and is clear enough to show the curves of design popping out from the design.

Bad news is I did not record what book. good news is I think I can hopefully backtrack as it must have been local library as I can’t photocopy at the Uni library. bad new is it’s probably in Central (CBD) good news is it is actually easier to get there than most places in the city.

But I am also going to use my Scan n Cut (like a Cricut but by Brother- the same principle with cutting and drawing.)

So I am going to attempt to use Inkscape to make my designs able to be easily repeatedly transferred.

So I may not need to do that before I head out.

I also finally have my NRW costuming notes in one folder and my book notes tidied in another and NRW research in another.

It’s felt over whelming but I think I can happily just take out all the images from my editing file and get that ready for printing.

I am hoping to create a pdf that recognises layout so the pages that would face in a book face in the document.

phonetic spelling galore

So I maaaaaay have a few leads on headgear. I even found a totally new to me document (but transcribed in the 1890s I think) that potentially ties an extant item to text. Except I really don’t know and I need a bit more time to test various spelling. It might be a lead or it might be an example of pageantry. And I’m really interested either way.

But it is a bit of a mind bend to try and read personal documents, even when transcribed and OCRed for handy instant translations. I eventually found a really nice lead also on the kind of embroidery work done “at home.”

koeln embroidery is weird

As per previous instagram posts, maybe here, I am redoing my pearled hat entirely.

I had the first round of pearls laid down in 2006, restored it after the fire (2007-2017 it was unwearable) and now I have finally decided to actually restore it properly. So every pearl has been removed, all the threads carefully picked out and the velveteen bonded to a very soft and flexible fabric so I should be able to safely restore the base entirely.

The problem is while we have Quentel not only printing embroidery designs in Cologne, but also contributing to the patterns, they really do not translate to what the pearl workers were actually doing in the city.

Counted work yes, anything in gold can be at least approximated by the patterns and even the examples of gold on linen seem to line up.

But the pearl work….

It’s just. It’s almost post modern. Or looks like someone took one of the modelbucher and a distorting mirror and decided a centre line in meaningless..

But there is a pattern in that apparent chaos. There are a few very clear repeated patterns that help us to be able to think like a pearl embroiderer of the time and place.

But I have been stalling on getting my timeline up and running.

I do not want someone to “pin” my page and a year later have zero context. So I am putting as much info as I can into the filenames, into alt text and into every element of meta data.

On hundreds of images and dozens of detail images of each.

But I do now think I know how to handle all of that. I may have to learn a new CMS to be able to handle images the way I want to. Really not sure why WP has been so resistant to allowing this but that is where we are. Images filed by date works very well for a blog, not at all well for pages where you may need to update a month, a year, two years later.

being brave

So I emailed a very respected institution last week to enquire about an object. I got a lovely reply back, short but considered given what I know was needed to get that information, from a person I have basically squeed about near consistently for the last decade.

So the answer was very helpful, and expected in many ways because of the timeframe, but the techniques are transferable and I do think it’s very important object to talk about.

So as I rebuild my site on another domain (I don’t need the 5000 posts or so I have here for a content driven site) I will also probably debut a post about it over there.

more tidying, I know…

I managed to get my research projects folders together and now I have a great new lead for more hat stuff. And I spotted all my scaled Alcega and Burguen patterns.

I have both Alcega books- the reprint of the later and the download of the original. I recommend getting both. I prefer the portrait format of the second book but the long landscape of the first does take me out of my modern expectations and so I found it helpful.

I also have Freyl- it’s very basic compared to Alcega but I again recommend it for context.

Burguen is perhaps my favourite. The proportions are quite different but it includes more examples of garments not well represented in Alcega.

And I finally got my copy of Anduxar put back in correct order. I prefer how I put it together because it’s a hot mess as it is. It has amazing patterns but they are not ordered in a way that helps anyone.

But I am going to use the patterns I scaled in my own cutting book because apparently I also scaled a few of the Austrian patterns and now I’m like… hang it. I’m going to scale All The Patterns. They will be to my proportions which means I’m going to want to try and test patterns on other people this year.

I do believe that the way I cut and construct does scale well, but I really need a lot of help in

spam is getting mean

Wow. So I think we know of the phenomenon of the hate click. Tradtional and social media sort perpetuates this because it’s been shown we tend to be more likely to respond to negativity than positivity. While a lovely story may generate likes and shares it’s likely to not have as many comments as a negative post.

And as with anything that generates interest and engagement it’s going to be exploited.

And thus we have this list of spam. Passive aggressive spam.

So while many people reading this won’t have to worry about getting spam through a website it is why many sites no longer allow comments at all. But this is also important to know while navigating social media that scammers are going to use the same techniques.

On change

Okay this post is brought to you while I’m resting and recovering from fibro and rheumatoid flare ups and also nomming on raw garlic in my ice-cream.


I am one of those people who have a genetic deficiency for coriander. Sorry yes, it is not a sign of being more attuned to flavour. We literally do not naturaly taste the flavinoids that make it so yummy to others.

So to visualise think of the yummy subtle citrus taste as A and the soapy taste as B. People with the optimum ability to process this stuff taste more A through more receptors for A. People like me do not have enough but we do have some. But it means we experience more of B.

Once I found out that it’s not just an intensity thing but that I was missing out on the yummy stuff I dedicated a lot of time to find it.

And I did. For me I focused on the citrus flavour. I could sort of find it when I smelled the stuff so I was determined to try and do justice to a range of culinary and cultural experiences I was missing out on.

So, I started with dried seeds which I love. Then tested dried leaves. I really love. And I basically got a big bunch of very fresh leaves and sniffed deep.

I found the soap fast. But I got something that reminded me of basil. I still struggled. But I was on the right track.

I tested for physical responses to the fresh leaves. I get a bit itchy but that lessened.

I tried cooking it down like a kale. Treat it like a vege and it does different things.

I tried finely sliced fresh on to of a spicy gravy.

I can now appreciate the stuff.

So back to my raw garlic in my ice cream. The best of the side benefits has been an even wider palette. Or a palate that can appreciate surprises.

Side note I was eating Indonesian inspired food for a long time as a kid, ditto Lebanese. We were really encouraged to be interested in spice!

My coriander issue was not due to a lack of experience it’s just insufficient receptors.

While at nerd camp my darling A. was going to waste some of her wine to rinse the last of my Turkish coffee from my vessel (I can’t drink the water on site.)

So I tried the mix. It worked. The wine was a lovely sweet and f up lol bodied Gris and I know they have really lovely notes including banana and chocolate. I was hoping for the chocolate and I was lucky.

It’s why I like stout complexities.

Still I did not expect to ever find raw garlic in my hokey pokey ice-cream as really interesting and a lesson on finding what does blend even when dominant notes over power.

The cold was fine, the cream was a good match and even the burnt sugar of the hokey pokey.

But, that is exactly what my efforts to relearn how to appreciate coriander is all about.

It’s had an effect well beyond the single issue.


There has been a slight change in my left wrist and it has caused a little localised inflammation between radius and thumb which probably needs a steroid injection.

So it can be hard to explain why we are so aggressive with therapy when the results don’t seem as positive.

On the pain scale I think I’m about a 5. I vary between numbers and as we are talking every joint in my body and how they work with the disease and how I use them that’s a given.

I’m sure it sounds either untrue or middling but…

But I would be well over 11 for about half the year.

It’s not so much about being grateful for a glass half empty, it’s about knowing how much work goes into getting me to this point. And it means decisions I make every day have an impact, even small.

I get to really appreciate exactly what I have actual control of in my life.

And also how much this wrist difficulty winds up leaving me not able to read and write and make things. Thus if I have the injection I will be better able to recover more quickly.