Artful Adornments

Pam Parmal, the David and Roberta Logie Curator of Textile and Fashion Arts, Musuem of Fine Arts, Boston
Artful Adornments: The Embroidered Accessories of Eighteenth-Century Boston Schoolgirls

Boston girls in the 18th Cent were often boarded into their later teens.

Madame Turfrey, in the South end of Boston, Sept-Oct 1706 placed an ad in the Boston News-Letter: “Mistres Mary Turfrey at the South End of Boston, Intends to board Young Gentlewomen, If any Gentlemen desires their Daughters should be under her Education: They may please to agree with her on terms.”

In reaction to the wanning Puritanism, educating in music, dancing, finer arts and deportment.

The House of Mr. George Brownell posted an add listing both the arts taught and the services offered to the public, including millinery and muslin work.

Elizabeth Murray posted an ad for teaching embroidery stitches and the thread and supplies she sold.
Diary of Anna Greene Winter.

Stomachers and aprons are in the MFA Boston collections. They feature polychrome silk and metallic embroidery- often including similar motifs.
Stomachers: 47.1024, 52.1392, 43.123, 54.1341, 43.1906, 68.593  
Aprons: 46.312, 43.1042, 43.1043, 38.1191, 53.243, 37.454,
An apron and fichu are worked in Dresden work- whitework in fine linen on a delicate cotton ground, openwork.
Another stomacher of white satin worked in silver threads.

One account listed a fee of 6 pounds for the materials for a schoolgirl to work on a commission.

Tracing Needlework Patterns and Skills in Early America

Dr. Susan P. Schoelwer, Curator at George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate
From Old London to New London: Tracing Needlework Patterns and Skills in Early America

Took a look specifically at Connecticut embroideries, in certain styles:
Decorated Bed Rugs, 1770-1810
Norwich embroidered canvas works
Norwich samplers
Patten School embroideries, heraldic works

Connecticut, 1755
Embroidered bed rugs appeared in Lebanon area, predominately 18th century
Coarse wool weave, embroidered with coarse thick yarns, using bold floral designs, meant to be utilitarian items. Created in southeast Connecticut or from women with relations in that geographic area.
1796-1804- Lebanon bed rugs featured a light or white background embroidered in browns, greens and yellows. Central flowering plant, showing symmetrical sense of balance.
1770 Coiled vine bed rug
Foote bed rug evoked blackwork motifs and style, black/dark on white
1778 Bed rug worked by Sarah Otis

How did the colonial women come to use patterns from over a century ago?
-Using pattern books, paper patterns (possibly used in packing) and designs on older ceramics. Carved furniture designs as well as imported Indian textiles featuring the Tree of Life motif can be seen in works.
-Perhaps these designs and skills were passed down through ‘Heritage needleworks’ (or preserved family antiques) and family lessons.

Southeast Connecticut, a canvaswork, possibly from a part of a sweet bag of English origin c.1637-43, owned by Elizabeth Gore Gager. Based on scribbles on the back of the frame that attempt to trace the lineage, it was made or owned by a seven times Great Grandmother.
Martha Coit Hubbard Greene 1706-1784, by Copely
Local traditions - crewel work and pattern darning used as fill

“Norwich” canvaswork were the only rivals of the same period of Boston Fishing Ladies c.1744-58. The Boston Fishing Ladies are pastoral scenes that show a narrative, attempts at perspective and scale and shows a horizon.
The Norwich scenes are horizonless, no scale and perspective, emblematic motifs, flat ground and with religious themes.

A Heritage needlework of an embroidered raised work panel depicting the Queen of Sheba, c. 1661. It was given to the Connecticut Historical Society in 1845, was preserved in Virginia until after the Revolutionary War in the Fox family. (No idea how it moved to CT)

Same for many of the Norwich band samplers. A Heritage Band Sampler by Hannah Punderson of CT, c. 1776-83
Samplers by the 1770’s had moved to square and pictorial, but a band of tulips and irises at the top of the heritage work, and other familiar motifs, were echoed in samplers of those taught by a Miss Punderson.

The Patten School c. 1795-1815, taught silk embroideries, based on nostalgic Heraldic works, even housed the school in the old statehouse.
A set of Twisted Sisters survive with a heraldic arms piece by Jerusha Pitkin, c. 1750
Boston heraldic embroideries were worked on black or dark backgrounds in a lozenge arrangements.
Patten School works were done on white silk in rectangle arrangements, raised work, used metallic threads, and incorporated the display of an eagle where the helm and mantling was traditionally put on heraldic crests.
John Coles made drawings of armorial designs c. 1790-1810, eventually arms were replaced with oval pictures featuring virtues or religious scenes, similar to raised 17th century panels and caskets, even using similar

Design sources used: printed sources, teachers or immigrant practitioners, other media and we should further consider heritage needleworks and family networks.

A spot sampler preserved in Connecticut Historical Society looks to be 17th century spot sampler. Evidence of water color paints show that it may have been attempted to be refreshed with paints.
The Lora Standish sampler was passed through descendants and tracked in 1770.
“Molly Stark” bed rug should be attributed to a Lebanon CT Family.

At the time, CT had a relatively insular population which helped with tracking, but so far is the only area that has been looked at. Need to look at materials to possibly trace further.


Hallowe'en weekend

Had quite the Halloween weekend. Friday night was dinner at Sabatino's and then dancing out at Club Orpheus with attack_laurel and lisettelaroux. The plan was to go Steam Punk, but my skirt plan fell flat so I improvised.

We had a blast and danced our feet sore. Hooray!

Then Saturday night we went to the Limerick Pub in Wheaton for dinner, drinks, music and a costume contest. Brendan, Rico & Neil were playing a combination of guitar, bass guitar, mandolin, fiddle and a variety of penny whistles and much of the Clancy Brothers soundtrack. There were even some little Irish dancing girls in pumpkin t-shirts that got up to dance. All and all an entertaining evening.
attack_laurel and her angelic cleavage did her steam punk thing again.

Alan wore his Al's Grave Digging Service shirt and then was attacked by glow sticks.

Considering we went to an Irish pub I decided to dress as a (silent) banshee.

Sunday was mostly shooting in the morning at the range, lunch at DuClaw, and looking at silly hats in the mall with Jimmy, Katie, us and the Morgensterns. Using a fun zombie target for practice also means door decoration to greet Trick-or-Treaters on Halloween.

Today was decorating the front stoop and carving pumpkins. I like using the little pumpkins for jack-o-lanterns as they are neater and cute. So, this year I carved a pup-o-lantern and a skully-o-lantern.

Which I think turned out rather adorably.

Posted via LiveJournal.app.

horror, elizabethan

It's All About the Clothes

Here are my scribbled notes from the lecture by Jill M. Hall, Co-Manager of the Jacket Project and Scholar of Historical Costume on It’s All About the Clothes

Trying to place the jacket in context. Susan Vincent in her Dressing the Elite says that looking for evidence of embroidered jackets is like “looking for salt in the sea” in that it is everywhere and yet nowhere.

The tradition of embroidery was well established in England. The Ditchley portrait of Elizabeth I shows a different style and type of embroidery all over her garment. She wears long hanging sleeves, the sleeve was placed at the
natural shoulder, and the waist was elongated. Other portraits show embroidery on the body of the doublet, on the panes of the trunkhose and sleeves, and even gold lace on shoes.

Clothing is personal and symbolic. Since there wasn’t a pattern of depicting everyday life in English painting, we turn to Dutch paintings of everyday life.
The Lawyer’s Office by De Bloot in 1628 shows a variety of classes.
The Courtier, 1561
Clothes signaled change in status. A couple may have been married in private, and waited until wearing new clothes to church to announce the marriage.

Specifically with the embroidered jackets and ensembles, there appear to be around 100 portraits showing them between 1590 - 1630, in two different themes, the Matron goes to the Masques.
Lady Scudamere, Mary Throckmorten’s portrait from 1615 shows her more as the matron, the jacket is not the main
piece as it is mostly covered up by her robe, and her skin is covered by ruff, and gloves.

Portrait of a Young Woman of the Hampden Family from 1610 has the lady dressed for a masque. The
jacket has a lower neckline, hair is loose, her petticoat is embroidered, and she wears a Roman style mantle draped around her.

William Larkin’s 1614-18 portrait of Dorothy Cary, Vicountess Rochford, show the matron wearing a slightly yellowed linen, which could be from starching the linen with saffron.
Margret Layton’s famous 1620 portrait and jacket depicts her covered up. She was married to the Keeper of the Jewels, so had some wealth and status. She wears a robe over her jacket, but it isn’t as ornate as Mary Throckmorten’s, she wore her petticoat over her jacket to imitate the higher waistline that was more fashionable at the time.

The view at the time was that the body was vulnerable to disease, so clothing was like an armour. The English Housewife published by Markham in 1625 was a man’s advice to women managing a household, including bleaching recipes.
Adriaen van de Venne, 1628, Albumn #6 Bleaching shows care of linens.
Miniature showing an Unidentified Man in his shift by Isaac Oliver in 1620.
“He shifts after he’s exercised or hot tempered.” Uses ‘shifts’ as a verb to change linen, changing the name of the item from smock to shift.
Linen absorbed sweat, dirt, and body oils and the linen was regularly changed and cleaned instead of regular bathing.

The Sick Child, 1663-4 by Gabriel Metsen hanging in the Rijksmuseum
Portrait of the Artist’s (3rd) Wife, Elizabeth Harding in 1615 by Isaac Oliver
Domestic Interior, c.1659 by Pieter de Hooch
Elizabeth Vernon, Countess of Southhampton, c. 1620 shows front closing stays/bodies and a hanging petticoat.
A Maid Asleep c. 1657 by Vermeer and the Sleeping Kitchenmaid c. 1655 by Maes shows that even relaxed, not able to slump due to bodies.
By 1633 the waistline has risen higher, neckline is wider, an overall broader look to the body.
A 1633 painting of a family on a terrace shows an Allegory of Marital Fidelity by Jan Miense Molenaer, and in the background left shows a maid wearing an embroidered jacket.

Children wore feminine gowns until around age 8. Styles utilized leading strings Women’s fashions retained vestiges of childhood styles. (hanging sleeves as leading strings) Pink and blue were not used as a gender signifier. Lady Anne Clifford documented that her daughter, referred to as child, wore her first pair of stays at around 2 years old.

Robert Peake’s 1608 portrait of Henry, Prince of Wales, on the Hunting Field shows different dress and status between the prince, his servant without hat, and the groom. A story of an Englishman who was also an Ambassador to the English court mentions the custom of remaining hatted, or not. In a public appearance with the King he was allowed to wear hishat, but did not (and would not) wear his hat in private with the King and Queen.

1618 painting of the Regents of the Old Bank by van der Voort, shows a lot of black due to luxury and expense.
1651 portrait of Edward Winslow is the only surviving portrait contemporary to the pilgrims of the Mayflower and Plimoth.
Black was worn with stark white linens as a show of solidity and respectability and wealth. Thus it was worn and utilized in portraiture. But there were other colors in use. 1620, A View of Richmond Palace from the Thames - detail shows a brown jacket with a dark petticoat, ruffled collar, broad brim hat.
Van der Venne, 1628, Album #58 Woman Selling Peat
Colors of ordinary clothes were violet, red, green, blues, yellows, as well as natural colors like brown, and faded tones.
Adriaen van der Venne’s drawings in the British Museum

Professional embroiderers were men, but household embroiderers were female. Apprenticeships required some means to procure them, so not a profession for the poor.

The legacy of the project is that it is possible.

Listening to the Makers

Here are my scribbled notes from the lecture given by Dr. Tricia Wilson Nguyan, Owner of Thistle Threads
The Plimoth Jacket: Listening to the Makers

Started looking at the master pattern used on the jacket. A panel in the Royal School of Needlework collection, the 1359-1900 embroidered jacket at the V&A, and possibly a nightcap in Nottingham. When compared with a master coil drawn and published by Trevelyon in his 1616 Great Book of Thomas Trevilian in section 12 of 'Drawen Workes':
pen-and-ink designs for black-work embroidery (an earlier work, The Trevelyon Miscellany of 1608 is at the Folger,
available in facsimile from UofW Press) currently in the Wormsley Library, barely available in facsimilie form. The master coil seems the same with various elements substituted in or out as desired, such as a columbine side view
or a bunch of grapes. There is also a coif and matching forehead cloth in a private collection from the same pattern. Analysis showed that some insects on the jacket, the panel and the nightcap all have blue satin stitched heads- much like the ones recreated on one sleeve of the Plimoth jacket. There is also a portrait of a lady at Kenwood House that
shows the wearer in a jacket of the same pattern.

Showing another link, two other jackets also use a pattern identical to each other, only with different borage flowers, one in the Bath Musuem of Costume and one in the Burrell Collection.

Many of the embroideries have, what we call, heathered silks in use. These are a combination of two colors, and sometimes two colors and a metal wire, customized to a particular area and embroidery shop. Leads us to think that the embroiderers were custom twisting silks at the frame as needed.

A Triptych of the life of Lady Anne Clifford shows needlework supplies on a table including snips, thread on cards, and ‘twisted sisters’ or thick packs of reel silks that the embroiderer would split and then use. The Metropolitan Museum of Art also has a box of threads in a similar style. A box of embroidery bits including twisted sisters is in the Connecticut Heritage Museum. Some samplers show variance in thickness of the silks used, perhaps showing that the sampler worker was practicing splitting and twisting their own reeled silks and not always being completely even.

“Being challenged makes you think.”

Crunching numbers, it is possible that an experienced team could accomplish a jacket in 1-3 months with 6-8 working on each frame.

Where did the plaited braid stitch come from? Why these stitches? On the continent, and in other non-English embroideries of the time primarily couched metal threads down and covered ground using long and short satin stitch, in both religious and secular works.

Dr. Wilson looked into Parliamentary records. In those economic times, banks were not common and the gold and silver standard was in use. Records showed that the state was involved in thread production and standardization. There were also records of melting embroidery back down- returning to the melting pot.

Wealth was stored in objects at the time, and used to pawn for coin at the time, primarily plate/metal dishes and clothing. James I was notorious for pawning. Pawn brokers, or frippers, would have had a second hand market for turning around abandoned goods. 800 women and 250 men were selling second hand clothes in 1677. One jacket in the Museum of London may have been made from second hand embroidery, since there was embroidery in the seams and no attempt to line up design in pieces.

Metal lace was essentially coinage. It was loosely stitched on to jackets, coifs, etc. and care was not taken to tuck in loose ends or finish off nicely. The lace was also often not a technically complicated pattern, having more metal value than labor value in each piece.

It seems that embroidery and lace were a part of the economy, and thus a possible explanation as to why they appear and then disappear from fashion and history. The surviving jackets do show some wear, and they were a relatively comfortable style. They were recut and remade either within a family or a century later for fancy dress.

Winterthur in Fall

So much to see, and so much to do, but I did manage to squeeze in 45 minutes to run around the Enchanted Woods, and poke around a lovely glade/grotto with a series of koi ponds and waterfalls. So lovely in the Fall colors. You can see that set of pictures on Flickr.

But here are some of my favorites:

Peeking at the Faerie Cottage across the Gathering Green
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The Green Man peeking out of his Lair
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The Tulip Tree House
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A Squirrel's Eye View from inside the Tulip Treehouse
winterthur 141

A Secret Grotto
winterthur 164

And a fitting portion of the Fairy Flower Labyrinth
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With Cunning Needle

I uploaded and annotated my pictures from the With Cunning Needle exhibit currently on display at Winterthur. I wish I had gotten better ones of the sweet bag and knife sheath, but I also wish they didn't have the tag for the bag hanging down over the embroidery. You can see the entire set of pictures on Flickr, but here are some of my favorites:

The Coif from the Plimoth project
winterthur 004

Box and tools for transferring designs for embroidery from the 1890s
winterthur 007

American Silks
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1600-1630 Sweet bag and knife sheath
winterthur 062 winterthur 029

Early 18th Cent Darning sampler
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Mid 18th cent embroidered garters
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Definitely worth a visit if you can manage it.

Needlework Conference

Oh. Hai there. Sorri it haz been so long...

Took a couple of days to go to the Needlework Conference at Winterthur this Friday and Saturday. My sweetie agreed to it as an early birthday present. He's awesome. I also got to see the With Cunning Needle exhibit of four centuries of needlework in conjunction with the conference. Particularly interesting, in addition to the jacket, coif and forehead cloth, were the design transfer kit, the early 17th cent sweet bag and knife sheath, the early 18th cent darning stitch sampler, and the mid to late 18th cent Queen's Stitch purse and garters. You can see them in the Gallery Guide which is available online. (BTW if you see my name on the second to last page as a supporter, that is thanks to everyone who purchased a pewter bird and/or butterfly that I forwarded the funds onto either Plimoth Plantation or Winterthur depending on which state the jacket was in. Thanks Y'all! If I had thought that they'd publish it in the guide, I'd have been clearer on the source of the donations.)

winterthur 076

Hi to grnvixen and snailstichr who were also there!

The lectures were really wonderful. It doesn't matter how often I hear Tricia speak on the jacket project and research, I always learn something new. I took notes on each one that I'll see if I can later type in and make sense of for those interested. I almost filled up my neat little blank book from the Costume Gallery at Platt Hall with the grapevine child sized jacket on the cover. I also made it into two workshops. One was in the Conservation department on Up Close and Personal: Conservation and Historic Needlework where we saw some of the textiles behind the scenes and listened to the conservator talk about techniques used on and plans to work on certain pieces either on the table or currently on display. The other was the Tiny Turtle Thimble Pouch of amazing cuteness! That was fun, and should be fun to finish.

And now it has gotten very late, so I need to head to bed. I'll try to be better at updating, especially since I have pictures to share, notes to type up, etc.

It was a great time and hopefully has re-kindled my fire and motivation to stitch. As well as another new project I have to pursue and finish before Twelfth Night.