While I edit and standardise some files I thought I’d also share some of why I decided on a mantua over a francaise: The Blue second Managers gown from Phantom of the Opera.
The 1870s had a heady mix of 18th century inspiration. Right across the Baroque to Rococo.
So there are times where self fabric or matched colour trimmings mimic or reference the latter part of the century, so too are there times the mantua is a clear inspiration.
This is especially true for the late 1870s as the waist dropped a little, and the bodice hem dropped further. The entire style was narrow, with a focus on the tablier (front of skirt panel) and a looped back train.
It’s possible to consider pannier style drapery as the extension of the front of the mantua robe, and the water fall as the back of the robe. The apron drapery can even be brought in separately though usually these seem to be of a different material.
I am quite enjoying the fact that my mantua can be used to illustrate the similarities and differences in cut and fit and in construction as I used my library of patterns for both my own Blue dress and Mantua.
My progress has gotten to the “piece very chunky silver lace into an invisible join” stage of my own Mantua, so to let my mind work in the background on that I’m using the front of my mind to look at my inspiration garments.
So the first is the one that started it all. Many years ago I was perusing the University library and a tiny book on some garments of the Museum of London. At the time I had the Arnold and Payne pattern diagrams of the Kimberly gown in the Metropolitan museum of art and was interested. But also I had all the fashion prints that show decorations are like very ornate piped icing on tall and narrow cakes.
It was not my deal. But the early London Museum mantua strips all the ostentation down to the stomacher.
Now this is “Me.” All the fit is in the pleats and turnings, much of which is done from the outside. What a nifty and frustrating way for someone used to draping and drafting toiles!
I wish I could link to the museum but they no longer have a record of the garment.
I have all my stay pieces. They are a beautiful satin faced linen, a very close weave so still will be a bit warm.
I need to cut some straps, but all the channels are stitched and it is fully boned. Meaning no gap between bones. The majority of stays are like this. But the channels also tend to be much smaller. I’m using some left over cable ties as I can quickly swap out permanently bent ones. Without waiting on a package from overseas 🙂
Actually I do want to order a huge amount of ultra thin boning. I think I could actually get a better match to the extremes between my rib and waist that way but also I will be able to do so a bit more comfortably.
Cording just collapses.
I’ve had a look for stay patterns as close to 1700 as possible and I think I need to alter a few pieces. I’m missing a little extra at the waist in either a side front panel or side back.
I had to include Garsault here for the boning within each panel, but a c1700 Polish manual (scroll down to 2016)and a 1713 manual (there are two parts so I linked to my reference site) can be used with it.
The Linzner Schittbuch also includes some gowns.
I think I used Hunnisette for the basic shapes to allow me to have a little leeway for my ribs because they distort stays even like this. It’s very hard to get a conical shape, so the way Hunnsett’s works seems to work with me.
I keep really wanting to go earlier as well like these:
But look at how fine all those channels are. And these are not outliers. Most of the stays even from the 16thC have narrow channels.
Finally, I’ve started to get back to projects. I really need something with no rules, and makes use of two very pretty but modern fabrics, a shot blue taffeta and a heavy fully sequined lace. It was very hard to decide between my two designs. My few rules are it does stick to historic cut, and to use up all of both fabrics. 4m of the lace, I think it was 9m of the blue.
Deciding to go all in on an early Mantua by pinning my lace the full width? Wow.
I started adding all of my references but I think I should do that over a few posts so I can focus on each properly.
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. The angled top edge lined up with the side of the back, the short piece (with the grain) in line with the front. This leaves the bottom of the piece to the hem that keeps the grain perpendicular to the floor no matter how long the train becomes.
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.
Pattern type 1
A traditional method 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.” The
edited from: Geometria y trazas pertenecientes al oficio de sastres …. Juan Albayzeta por Francisco Revilla, 1720 – 95 pages
This pattern is for a garment with a very long train, though there is also 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. It’s possible to find the parallel seams joining fabric widths as well as a seam between the two diagonal sides.
Moden i 1700-årene Author: Ellen Andersen Publisher: [København] : Nationalmuseet, cop. 1977. Series: Danske dragter
I have divided the pattern so that the shapes can be compared more easily to the other garments- this garment has the sleeves cut with the body. 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.”
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 garment is not currently digitised or on display.
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.
Manteau without patterns
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 dated 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 brocaded 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
Well this has been a tough decision and I’m still not sure.
First is my 100% dino shot taffeta. It’s a really heavy weight incredibly crisp and is such a beautiful shade I can forgive the content. But I usually have a very distinct line between historic and historic inspired.
Second is my black silk. Very heavy, very heavy. Also able to be used front and back.
Seriously torn as to which to make from it. Other options for the blue is a francaise or 1870s convertable gown.
The black silk can be anything from 16thC on!
Also my beaded silk? Sigh it really does look fab as a Reinette inspired gown. But I also want to go total fantasy with it and yet it drapes so nicely over hoops.
Also coming soon, a fancier Leia wig tutorial. Also her buns are so much bigger than most costumers realise… I need to do a scale diagram. But her buns sit on her dress collar.
They may also get bigger the more sass she expresses.
And also I am having major issues with the way the lace sits at the crown. I have already done major work on this so I may as well get the sectioning clips out to stitch that down!
It’s not surprise I am obsessed with the style. I have been for more than a decade but never found a fabric I thought would do the style justice. Well now I do have a fabric! And thanks to an online friend sharing images from her own research that connection was sparked and the final push to actually make one inspired!
Many moons ago a very well respected costumier who creates the most amazing 18thC gowns gave me information on a few mantua especially one of my favourite gowns ever, he shared privately but there is now an official source:
National Museets Samlinger Online Kjole med slæb, grøn silke
Kjole med slæb. Af grøn silke med broderet guldmønster, antagelig 1740erne. Fra Valdemar Slot, Tåsinge. (I have a pattern for this)
National Museum Wales:
Silver embroidered blue damask court mantua (an open fronted gown with an elaborate train), (mix of suggested dates, 1720-1740) Tredegar Collection
Date: late 17th century
Medium: wool, metal thread
Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1933 Accession Number: 33.54a, b (I have two patterns for this)
Metropolitan Museum of Art: Mantua (note the skirt is a series of reverse flounces!)
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
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Woman’s Mantua with Stomacher and Petticoat
Italy, circa 1700
Costumes; principal attire (entire body)
Silk satin with gold- and silver-metallic thread embroidery
a) Dress: Center back length: 56 in. (142.2 cm); b) Petticoat: Center front length: 35 in. (88.9 cm) Costume Council Fund (M.88.39a-c)
Collections of the Lincoln Museums:
Usher Gallery, The Lincolnshire mantua
(There is a pattern to a similar garment in the first PDF, also a skirt layout and layout of the train. All three documents are available to download and are incredibly fascinating!)
I have another favourite from the Museum of London but there is no link online.
I will share a thumbnail though and hopefully in time the museum will have this on their site:
Museum of London
Dress 1720-30 (no. 2) front view, with added STOMACHER, 1720-1730 (no.39) (I have a pattern for this)
This does not appear to in their collections, I will update as soon as I know more. I much prefer to link to the collections rather than take from a book, but I can at least, hopefully, generate interest in this garment!)
So I have a fantastic start, a nice range of extant garments to look at trends and to decide on particular style.