I want to do a blog post/article about proportion and the ideal in historic dress. I need it as a part of my pattern book especially so that people* can use the patterns and understand how to use them to find their own magic balance between ideal historical shape, fit, and what they want to really focus on.
I am finding it easier in all areas exempt the Saxon princess styles. But Nurnberg? Faber? Bruyn? I gotcha. And it’s great because these styles really do WERK when you have the confidence to go off the shoulder- trust me there is nifty but easy engineering.
And my system does WERK for every body I just need to prove it and I need to find examples in art to illustrate that this is an historic approach. I have my own frustrations with not matching the ideal certain eras (like now, just oh so much.) And I also recently had my eyes open to how to make the 1920s WERK for me. That was so incredibly freeing and made me really excited about making vintage gear for deco and later events here. Yes I am using WERK because it is about trying to feel fabulous not just oh it works.
*(yes people I fully embrace non-cis-female people using these because I love these frocks and I just want everyone to feel confident in making them and wearing them, please,please, please, use my pattern/ fit brain if you are out there not sure if what I do is for you, yes it is).
As expected both the text and the illustrations are much easier to understand in Garsault than Diderot.
The Lingerie Stitches from Garsault, I think I need to use c. I was wondering if there were more variations on this- such as running the needle through the fold to hide stitches almost entirely but it looks like a slanted stitch as per the text.
A, Le Surjet. B, Le Point noué ou de boutonniere. C, Le Point de côté. D, Le Point devant. E, Le Point de chaînette. F, L’arriere-Point. GMH, Trois Figures pour la Couture rabattue.
A, The Overlock.
B, Knotted or buttonhole stitch.
C, The Side Point.
D, The Point in front.
E, The chain stitch.
F, The backstop.
GMH, Three Figures for Folded Stitching.
The Lingerie Stitches of Diderot
The Tailors stitches for hemming:
Of note is the upper of Fig 6; the thread is clearly seen passing through the underside to the top, then the thread not returning through the upper but between upper and lower then through the lower and back up.
Also of note is that k, or the same figure also shows this clearly as the under layer is set slightly under.
And this helps with the text:
6. Le point à rabattre sous la main. Il se fait comme le précédent, excepté qu’ayant percé l’étoffe supérieure,vous allez par dehors piquer l’étoffe inférieure au travers; puis vous les percez toutes deux en remontant: on se sert de ce point pour coudre la doublure au-dessus quand il la dépasse : k dessus, n dessous.
6. The point to fold at hand. It is like the preceding, except that having pierced the upper stuff, you go outside to stitch the bottom stuff through; then you pierce them both up: we use this point to sew the lining above when it exceeds: k, above, n below.
This is not as clear in the Diderot plate of the same stitches, the stitches do not seem to weave in Fig 16, and in Fig 17 there is no indication of the underlayer.
So that has made it much easier for me to not use this set of stitches for my mantua hemming as it is not formed this way.
I think a simple slanted stitch like I normally use will be fine for the seam allowances along the joins of the mantua petticoat and seen in the Lingerie sections will be enough.
Several years ago I managed to find several lengths of lovely rigid plastic boning. I have not found anything like it ever again. I do have some of the now readily available boning variously known as German Plastic Boning and Synthetic Whalebone (which may or may not refer to the same thing) but they just are very different for purpose.
I have a BSc in Biochemistry so plastics/resins hold a real fascination. I mean obviously I had to learn a fair bit about the resins used in fibreglassing because it changes how you use it. For example when to laminate and when to work the entire thickness- basically each batch you mix and cure becomes one giant molecule, each separate batch then only bonds to the surface- it’s more complicated but basically this is also why I like to use fillers and thinners with the same product- that surface bond is still not to be sneezed at. I am so allergic. To epoxy. Polyester is just nasty. But the pros of epoxy as basically safety; flex and resistance to flame.
So. I have a sample and I can do a few very simple tests to find out what the primary plastic is. But plastics are not pure, they may be made from several sources and may have additives and these will affect physical properties.
I don’t think I have enough for professional testing but I should be able to follow this, with a bit of help:
Of interest is this: melamines smell like fish and formaldehyde! I definitely have a few samples of this.
The cut edge is very similar to the cut edge of the Wissner product as stocked by all the main sellers. It goes opaque with compression in the centre of the cross section. It is not a pure clean cut either, the edge is somewhat flaked. It doesn’t crumble. So already that is a test.
I can easily test density-ish. If it floats in water (“room temperature”) or sinks.
So I will see how it burns- speed to catch, smoke, smell, flame, drip…
I can’t quite tell if there is pigment. It is cooler in tone than the other boning but it’s quite subtle. And it could be a matter of different pigments vs presence or absence of pigments. Zinc oxide vs Titanium etc. etc. There might be a bluing pigment?
I have been trying to find the boning online and the easiest way to identify it is the cross section. It is much more oval than what is readily available. And that cross section adds to the rigidity.
So sewing huh. Physics and chemistry do matter. It is not just an issue for support materials like this! Fabric is an exquisite interplay. The fibre content, the processing, the spinning, the weaving, the dyeing, the sizing.. it all affects whether you can even wash a fabric without losing properties. And that then affects what you can do to dye or stitch or store the fabric.
Cutting fabric is a calculated risk in very many ways. You cannot restore a fabric to precut. It’s not just a matter of aesthetics. It will affect the kind of stitching and fibre content and thickness and twist of thread used to sew it back together. Hand vs machine is not even a given. The fabulous cloth of gold fabric from Sartor Textiles was a dream to machine sew with tiny stitches and the smoothest polyester thread I can use with a microtex needle. Slightly harder to hand sew and it really really needs to be pressed with heat.
I did manage to cut my fabric panels for my mantua, it really is pretty darm easy as it is all on the grain rectangles. It is pretty much exactly what I expect from a pre-1920s measure, cut, fit process. It looks a bit different but ultimately it’s a case of wait to floor, shoulders to waist and that’s it. Everything else is adjustable to suit.
I knew I wanted my side extensions to be only one full width of fabric (so two widths of a more in era width. I cut (tore) one width from waist to floor plus a hand width for turnings. Then folded on the diagonal to form the two side extensions.
The underskirt is cut from three drops of fabric as these tend to be between 5-7 widths of in era fabric widths. I will wind up with side openings which will allow me to wear pockets underneath. The Henri Bonnart illustrations show a lot of openings for pockets.
The front of the robe was cut from one full width of fabric as long as from my shoulder to floor plus two hand widths. One hand width is to extend the fronts over the shoulder, the other is for turning.
To cut the back panel I laid the extensions next to the front panels and lined up the remaining fabric from top of the front panel down to waist and then followed the diagonal of the side extensions.
I didn’t want a very long train so I cut a curve about 3-4 hand widths.
The rest of the fabric will be used for sleeves and facings.
Since these I have machine stitched the joins and pressed them back ready for stitching. I haven’t yet done so as I need to really look through the Diderot stitches. Okay. Not totally clear but:
Fig, 1. 2. & 3. Elévation & places de dessus & de dessous du point de devanten piquant les deux étoffes de haut-en-bas & de bas-en-haut. Fig, 4. 5. & 6. Point de côté ramenant le fil en-deffous par-dehors après avoir piqué les deux étoffes. Fig, 7. 8. & 9. Point-arriere ou arriere-point, repiquant de haut-en-bas au milieu du point-arriere après avoir piqué de bas-en-haut. Fig, 10. 11. & 11. Point lacé comme le point-arriere, lieu qu’il fe fait au- en deux tems, revenu en-hauton ferre le point, & retournant l’aiguille on repique en-arriere commeau précédent. Fig, 13. 14. & 15. Point à rabattre fur la main piquant le haut-en-bas & de bas-en-hauten-avant les points drus espacés & également. Fig, 16. 17. & 18. Point à rabattre fous la main commele dernier au-lieu qu’ayant percé l’étoffe supérieure on pique-l’étoffe inférieure par-dehors, ensuite on pique les deux en remontant. Fig, 19. 20. & 21. Point à rentraire comme le point à rabattre fur la main se faisant en deux tems en retournant l’aiguille avant tout il faut joindre à point fimple les deux envers l’étoffe retournée on ferre de ce point les deux retours il faut pour cela très-peu d’étoffe &les points très-courts. Le point perdu n’eft qu’un point-arriere ajouté au precédent. Fig, 22. 23.& Point traversé, couture à deux fils croisés. Fig, 25. A, premiere opération; point coulé ou la passe, c’eft la boutonniere tracée de deux fils. B, la passe fermée du point de boutonniere. C, la passe achevée & terminée de deux brides à chaque bout quel’on enferme de deux rangs de points noués
BOARD IX. Sewing stitches. Fig, 1. 2. & 3. Elevation & places from above & from the fronten point pricking the two fabrics from top-to-bottom & bottom-to-top. Fig, 4. 5. & 6. Side point bringing the wire in-bursts from outside after stitching the two fabrics. Fig, 7. 8. & 9. Point-back or back-point, pushing up and down in the middle of the back-stitch after dipping from below upwards. Fig, 10. 11. & 11. Point laced like the point-back, place which it is made in two tenses, returned to the top, turns the point, and turning the needle backwards. Fig, 13. 14. & 15. Point to be folded on the hand, stitching up-down and down-up in front of the thick points spaced & equally. Fig, 16. 17. & 18. Point to be folded in the hand as the last one instead of having pierced the upper stuff, the lower stuff is thrown out, then the two are stitched upwards. Fig, 19. 20. & 21. Point to point as the point to be folded on the hand being done in two times by turning the needle before all must be joined at the same time the two to the returned fabric we iron this point both returns require very little material and very short points. The lost point is only a back-point added to the previous one. Fig. 22. 23. & Crossed point, cross-stitched seam. Fig, 25. A, first operation; cast point or the pass, it is the buttonhole traced two sons. B, the closed pass of the boutonniere point. C, the pass is completed & completed with two straps at each end which enclose two rows of knotted stitches
Figures 13. 14. and 15. Overhand hem stitch piercing from top-to-bottom and from bottom-to-top in front, the stitches densely spaced and even. Figures 16. 17. and 18. Underhand hem stitch [is] like the last, except that having pierced the upper fabric one pierces the lower fabric at the outside, one pierces the two together fortifying.
The Encyclopedia of Diderot & d’Alembert Collaborative Translation Project.
FIGURES Fig, 1. Le point de surjet. Fig, 2. Le point de côté. Fig, 3. Le point-arriere ou arriere-point: Fig, 4. Le point devant. Fig, 5. La couture rabattue. Fig, 6. Le point noué ou point de boutonniere. Fig, 7. Le point de chaînette. Fig, S. Le point croisê. Fig, 9. Peignoir en pagode: Fig, 10. Bonnet piqué. Fig, 11. Coëffure de dentelle. Fig, 12. Coëffure à deux rangs ou à bavolet. Fig, 13. Grande coëffe en mousèline. A coëffure en papillon sur une tête de carton.
FIGURES Fig, 1. The overlock stitch. Fig, 2. The side point. Fig, 3. The rear-end or back-point: Fig, 4. The point in front. Fig, 5. The seam folded. Fig, 6. The lockstitch or boutonniere. Fig, 7. The chain stitch. Fig, S. The point crossed. Fig, 9. Bathrobe in pagoda: Fig, 10. Quilted hat. Fig, 11. Scallop Coif of lace. Fig, 12. Coeffure Coif with two rows or bolster. Fig, 13. Large mussel cockerel mouseline coif. A butterfly coif on a cardboard head.
I finally put pencil and ink to paper and got my idea in colour.
Why? The direction of boning is as important as the shape of the pieces. If the boning is vertical it tends to follow the shape of the body more closely- it scoops in at the waist and out over ribs and bust and padding. On the diagonal it acts to channel soft body tissue into the seam with the V. So this gives us the variation in the conical shape.
I think I have found the perfect set of stays to mimic for my own. I am not sure about the breadth across the upper front for me but otherwise it is close.
Date: late 17th–early 18th century Culture: French Medium: silk, metallic thread Credit Line: Purchase, Irene Lewisohn Bequest, 1975 Accession Number: 1975.34.2a–c
early 1700s – Auction House Coutau- Bégarie – Corps à baleines, début du XVIIIe siècle,en damas ramagé rose, piqûres rectilignes soulignant les baleines. Devant en pointe arrondie à effet de corset lacé matérialisé par des dentelles aux fuseaux en sorbec argent, basques gainées de peau. Laçage à oeillets dans le dos, (quelques usures).
I am mostly happy with my stays but I’ll unpick the front panels as I want them on the straight. A whole lot of stays in museums are just labeled “18thC” which is not really helpful given how much the engineering of these stays changed.
I used my Effigy stays for fit and redrew seam lines. I used the Garsault diagram not the Diderot pattern. Garsault is slightly easier to see all the seam lines.
I also had Leloir in mind to look for consistencies and differences.
I also used the two sets of stays from Corsets and Crinolines to again look for consistencies and differences.
And also used Hunnisett as a guide, there is a pattern scanned out there labeled as from Waugh which is actually from Hunnisett.
This 1680s set has vertical boning strategically placed at CF CB and sides. This keeps the shape very straight and in fact with a little scoop and tilt back of the front. This follows fashion.
This from the 1730s has a lot of boning on angles to allow for the front to tilt forward every so much. There is still a sweep to the waist it is the start of the very lilted forward shape we see once busks really start to take hold.
Interestingly a very similar bit of engineering goes on for the S front corsets of the 1900s. A very rigid straight busk cases the hips to tilt back and the upper tilt forward, it’s not just the rigid straight busk that is similar but also the use of very diagonal, almost horizontal seams.
I need a nearly vertical front that curves at almost the same degree from top to bottom.
This portrait neatly shows the push up effect of the stays (narrow and tall with lots of vertical bones) but the start of a bit of a tilt forward due to the start of a very straight and rigid font.
I’ve cut them so that I can use the front of each panel for vertical support while the back is tapered more or less.
I love stays with a laced open front as it can allow for a pair of stays to be adjusted a bit to mimic some later styles- eras where length becomes defining. In fact there are a few sets of stays dated to the 1780s that use so many of these features- long skinny tabs that mostly have the boning going straight through, lots of vertical boning.
I do though need some new boning. It’s difficult because no two manufacturers use the same process. My favourite was very clearly extruded and so there are parallel lines running through it. It was very rigid, and was quite oval in cross section. This is important for structure as it’s harder to bend that shape than a more flat cross section.
But I do have steels to help support, once I can cut them. So many projects on hold as I need the support structure to start patterning. I can’t use the aviation shears that came with them. So I’m trying to get creative.
I spent the day digitising a cheat draft for a mantua. It’s very similar to Hunnisett but what I have tried to do was show the rationale behind it. This pattern is for a
(Pattern on fabric on the fold.)
It uses minimal measurements just like the originals. From left to right are the discreet drops of fabric that can be torn before any cutting or pleating is started.
My previous overlays of extant mantua show a fabric width of between 50 and 65cm in silk and over 100cm in wool. So I have tried to show the pattern shapes on 150cm/60″ wide fabric. But I also tried to indicate 50cm divisions.
The front length is taken from behind the shoulder to waist to hem (over hips) plus turnings. Here the front is 185cm to include a generous turning (10xm.)
The side widths are extensions cut from the full width, here I have limited to the width of the fabric but these could be cut wider by butting more fabric to the far side and continuing the same diagonal line. Turning is automatically included this way.
The back length is taken from the shoulder to waist plus the length of the diagonal line of the side extensions, and then extra to taste for the curve of the train.
The underskirt is then two full width drops of fabric or 6 drops of 50cm wide fabric from waist to hem (over hips) plus a generous turning (10cm.) Original skirts are between 5-7 drops, records describe openings being at the side or Centre Back. If a CB opening is desired then the joins should be turned to the sides and the CB fold slashed about 2 hand widths deep. The front will then also be on the fold.
The sleeves can be cut from a single drop of fabric approximately the same length as is used by the body. These vary greatly by decade but this allows for pleats and length to elbow.
Facings and cuffs can be cut from the greyed out left over fabric or from a dedicated drop of your choice.
To alter for width the side seam on the front and back panels can be moved further out so that the diagonal line is entirely on the extensions.
This is based on my proportions and is very much a “guesstimate” as I tend to err on the side of extra length.
Construction starts with joining the underskirt turning up the hem then pinning to the form which has been dressed with a petticoat.. This ensures the hem is entirely across the grain and thus the waist will form a gentle wave.
The waist can be turned and overhanded to a waist tape (or two for side openings) the waist should be pleated or gathered, with the direction of pleats pointing to the back. This skirt should be lined or at least have a deep facing to allow the hem to hang neatly and with body.
The mantua will need a shaped lining that should be taken on the body or a stand correctly shaped with stays of the right shape.
This is then pinned to the form and the main fabric pleated over that.
The back of the mantua is the foundation for fit so start at waist and pin up for the centre back and then fold the side backs as desired. The fabric can be slashed at the side to avoid wrinkles at the waist. The side seam should sit slightly to the back rather than strictly at the side.
The fronts of the mantua can be joined to the extensions (seam allowance to the outside for a later style, to the underside for earlier) and the full hem turned. This again allows for the hem to be entirely across the grain and the fronts can then be pinned and pleated on the form again aligning the hem to the correct level by taking up or letting down at the waist. Then pin the front pleats and slash the side waist to fit.
The front side should be folded in and the edge tacked to the back, the join between the extensions and back should be sewn so as to be on the inside once draped.
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.
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 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.
Mantua Date:late 17th century Culture:British Medium:wool, metal thread Credit Line:Rogers Fund, 1933 Accession Number:33.54a, b
(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.
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.
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.
Mantua Date:ca. 1708 Culture:British 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.
Mantua 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.
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.
COLLECTION AREA mwl ITEM NUMBER 23.189.1 ACQUISITION Donation 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) LOCATION In store CATEGORIES Court
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.
A COURT MANTUA OF CHINESE IMPERIAL YELLOW SILK DAMASK, THE SILK CIRCA 1740, THE MANTUA 1750S 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
I have finally got really sewing again. Many reasons why I didn’t, but I am testing various therapy for fibro so have a few temporary options for pain. The daily stuff hasn’t really seemed to help for a full day.
Anyway. So I have been putting some of what I know works for me in other costumes to the test with The Mina and it’s working. It’s also offering a way for me to explain how my Northern Renaissance patterns work as they use the same basic engineering. The trick to shape is in specific curves.
The front of my bodice shows how the gussets are able to give a really crisp definition to under bust and hips while being very flat on the CF line.
The side view shows how the bodice basically has the straight of grain from shoulder down side and then is perpendicular to the waist. This is the same principle I use for my earlier patterns.
Here though I have to use gussets over the bust for the idealised figure of the original. In the earlier patterns I just use the bias of the grain in the bust area to create support (not possible to mimic with a rigid mannequin though.) The key thing is that essentially the foundation is very stable vertical through the side and as far up from the waist as possible then allow ease over the bust. Some styles have that change a little further down some higher up (sort of starts very high in the lat 15thC then drops a bit and gets higher and flatter with the influence of Spanish style all over Europe.)
The back also shows some of my stabilising efforts. The V neck is prone to bagging both front and back so I’ll be using some stay tape along the edge later.
The hip gusset like the front one allows for the hip to hopefully be directed to the side rather than squished in.
This V shape of stitching follows some of the shapes seen in gusseted corsets especially. But as this is a bodice I was able to put in an angled side back seam to help smooth that out.
So speaking of smoothing out one of the dressmaking books I looked at again recently shows what I mean about how historical shaping is not just about the initial pattern being very different but the methods of fitting are also different. The post is here. Go straight to the book here (The elements of modern dressmaking for the amateur and professional dressmaker by Davis, Jeanette E; Holahan, Cora M., ed, Publication date 1894)
1 to 1, 2 to 2, 3 to 3, Stretching for the hollows of the figure ; 5 to 5, Crossboning; 4 to 4, Extra bone in front.
I’m basically using the lines 3 and 4 to keep my fabric straight and thus most supportive. I will be using the methods of putting in vertical darts in the shell.
Here is the illustration showing where to add padding into that hollow for two variations (f for fuller, h for hollower). Also the darts at B and C are for lining fabrics only- this is likely that lining fabrics can’t be eased as easily as shell.