Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Coming attractions & a note from the archives

Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Loretta reports:

This week will bring a new set of posts from one of our favorite historical sites, Colonial Williamsburg, in Williamsburg, VA.

As a sample of the kinds of things we see & learn there, and the up-close-and-personal photos we bring you, here's my very first 2NHG post, from 2009:

Breeches buttoned Finally, I got to unbutton a pair of breeches.
Susan and I entered the milliner’s shop in Colonial Williamsburg,
and there they were, spread out on the counter.

Breeches up close We were told we were welcome to touch, so I did.
In case you were wondering, that “stockinette” you may have read about is definitely stretchy--and thinner than you’d guess. These breeches are 18th century, a little before my writing time.

Breeches-fall It was very interesting to learn that men of the Regency wore their clothes much tighter. Tailors, we were told, were advised to cut the material three inches narrower than the man’s measurements. So now I’m picturing men in tights. (???)


Anonymous said...

The one time I went to Williamsburg was in 1976 and it rather bit. This appears to not bite, however and a -1 easment on the pants makes me want to see that fabric!

Donna Hatch, Romance Author said...

So is the fabric a bit stretchy at all, or did they just wear them skin tight and try not to sit or bendover?

Charles Bazalgette said...

"The Taylor's Complete Guide, or A Comprehensive Analysis of Beauty and Elegance in Dress, 1796” was the seminal English publication on tailoring, and here describes how to make a pair of breeches:

'Cutting and making Worsted Stocking-breeches, ribbed or plain.
'When at your cutting-board and having your stocking-piece before you, observe the following maxim, which entirely results from the stretch or elasticity that there is in all framework of this nature, and requires that the breeches must be three inches longer than the measure.
'Lay your measure upon the piece within one inch and a half at the top, then extend it to the intended place for the knee, and mark it and cut it longer an inch and a half below at the knee; then for the width, lay on the measure at the bottom of the knee, and mark for cutting one inch narrower than the measure upon the stuff in the double, and one inch less in gradation all the way up the thigh, and be sure to abide by the following example for the stride:-- First make a deep fall down, and having laid your finger upon the measure at the bottom of the knee, with the other hand extend the measure to the fork, and make the stride within three inches of the length of the measure, this will give proper room for the elasticity of the materials, and ease and freedom to the wearer.
'Next cut your leg seam very straight, and not hollow as is the common practice, and let your side seams be likewise straight from the knee up to within four inches of the hip; and observe that you put in a gusset piece from that place on the outside of the hip, two inches and a half wide at the top, and cut taper or bevelled to a point five inches long both of the outside and the inside. When this done and your beeches are put on, you will find that the ribs go straight doen the thighs, which will avoid and provide against an abominable error in the trade, of twisting the ribs across the thighs, making them appear crooked, inwardly inclining, which seems to the spectator (according to the old vulgar adage) as if people were ill shap’d or knap knee’d. When you have got so far, cut your seat at the joining of the waistband, less by two inches double; and in making, let your knee-band be cut one inch longer than your measure, and back it on lining, and set it with the knee-band to the breeches; this will keep them to the full size at the bottom, and make them lie agreeably, and rise to the springing of the calf of the leg if required. Let both the knee-band and the waist-band be beared on according to your length of them (both) and not the breeches, which though diametrically opposite to the common practice in use, we do affirm is positively right, and the true justified by and proved by long experience, and which will convince every practitioner on his first essay, if he does but adhere to the rule.'

QNPoohBear said...

My American Girl Felicity has a pair of breeches. They look tiny but when they "unbutton" they get much larger. They definitely fit snugly though. (Felicity is rather plump).

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