Tag Archive | linen

Plimoth Jacket Memories

While this is likely to be subject of many more blog posts to come, I couldn’t let the day (or night) go by without writing at least a few words about the rather amazing memories that were recently dredged up! Why is that, you wonder?

Because of this:

plimoth jacket combined

Swoon! It’s not often that my breath is taken away by a historical costume reproduction, but in this case, I pretty much stopped breathing when the lovely interpreter & jacket model Natalie walked into the room wearing this stunning garment. And with no pun intended, I’m pretty sure you could have heard a pin drop in the room – that’s how awestruck we were.

embellishing17thcdressNow to back up and tell a bit more of the story! This past weekend, Saturday and Sunday to be specific, I celebrated my birthday in a rather fabulous way by attending the Embellishing 17th-Century Dress Conference at Plimoth Plantation. There were two full days of workshops and discussions and demos of all sorts of techniques – both English and Native – and all the teachers and presenters were fantastic. An extra bonus was getting to spend the weekend with my friend, Jenni of Historically Dressed– it’s always so much better to share costuming adventures with friends!

The workshop focused heavily on details related to the embroidered jacket project that was completed in 2009: The Plimoth Jacket – A Paradise of Silk and Gold. This 3+ year project was a tremendous effort that eventually involved over 200 volunteer stitchers, dozens of lace makers, several technical and historical experts, and thousands of yards of silk thread.

plimoth leaves

I worked on the wings of the jacket – which is pretty exciting because it means it’s easy to spot my stitching on the finished piece! My detached buttonhole stitching is still looking good nine years later ;o)

But let’s back up even earlier to when the first embroidery stitches were added to the jacket… June 2007. I  was one of about 10 stitchers who attended the first volunteer session and who had the privilege of being the inaugural embroiders on this amazing jacket. Can you tell I’m still excited about this? I hope so… because then you’d understand why when this conference was announced and included the opportunity to see the jacket… I was all in!

Sadly, it seems that most of the story and blog that traced the progress of making the jacket seems to have disappeared from the web but some traces can be found by searching the Internet Archive or doing an Google Image search.

And although I have been back to Plimoth Plantation several times since 2007, it was a huge treat to return for another does of hands-on history. And while it’s true that much of the staff has changed during the past nine years, everyone involved (then and now) went above and beyond to provide a fantastic experience. So thank you, Plimoth Plantation, Jill Hall, Tricia Wilson Nguyen, and countless others who made the jacket project a reality nearly a decade ago, and thank you also to Demetra and Dan Rosen, Kristen Haggerty, and the many other staff members who made me fall in love with 17th century costume all over again during the past few days.

P.S. If you’re keeping track, I’ve been a bit behind on my CoBloWriMo-ing due to the traveling and conference, lol! However, I thought today’s prompt – Give a progress report on your current projects – was oddly fitting even if my current project stretches back nine years! It’s also a good time to mention that the conference gave me the chance to meet and stitch with Mem of Star and Scissor… who is also the driving force behind CoBloWriMo!

P.P.S. My head is literally exploding with other non-embroidery information learned this weekend and with ideas for future costuming. So many more blog posts to follow…


1830s Pantry Apron – Part One

Much of my late night sewing lately has revolved around the 1820s and 1830s… not necessarily because I find these decades particularly appealing, but rather because the museum I work at is expanding (and improving) its collection of reproduction clothing for the volunteers. Since the programs are mostly based in the 182os… well, you can figure out the rest! With the spring season of programs about to begin, the 2013 sewing list is as follows:

  • 2 men’s shirts
  • 3 men’s aprons
  • 2 waistcoats
  • 3 women’s aprons
  • 6 caps
  • 6 pelerines and/or chemisettes
  • plus petticoats and dresses as needed for new volunteers

The recent Workwoman’s Guide cap that I completed was a test run for new caps and now that I have that behind me, I’m turning my attention to the men. 5 yards of coarse brown linen was procured for three aprons and once again I turned to The Workwoman’s Guide. Plate 11 Fig. 15 illustrates ‘A Pantry Apron’ and the here’s the accompanying description.

We’ll be using some of the IL090 unbleached linen from Fabrics-store.com and that’s currently in the midst of being laundered to get the expected shrinkage out of the way. A sewing day is scheduled for volunteers on April 6th so at this point I’m just drafting patterns and then cutting things out to have ready for our cadres of sewers!

Here’s what I’ll be using for cutting dimensions:

Width: 40″ wide
Length: 44″ long
Tape for neck: 22.5-25″ (tape width will depend on what I have on hand)
Pocket: 15″x9″

In case you haven’t been following the math… 1 nail = 2.5″

As a result… once all this is hemmed, the corners will be turned down 13.75″… shown as the A-B measurement in the illustration. That will leave about that same width covering the chest where the neck ties are attached. Interestingly, no ties are shown for this apron which makes me wonder if this served more like a smock and the fullness of the apron would be splayed out over the lap while seated and doing the messy chores mentioned in the description – trimming lamps, cleaning shoes and knives, etc. 40″ seems pretty wide for an apron but regardless of who ends up wearing it – they’ll need ties to keep it on since the volunteers are on the move during their programs. No seated interpretation here!

Based on the dimensions I calculated, each apron will take 1 1/8 yard of 60″ linen. As soon as I get one or two of those cut out, I’ll be moving on to “Gentleman’s Workshop Apron” which is Fig. 16 on the same Plate. As a parting note, I just have to mention how amusing the lack of scale is on these illustrations! The workshop apron is one nail narrower but drawn nearly 50% wider… go figure!