Friday, April 12, 2013

Friday Video: An 18th C. Dress in a Day, Part II

Friday, April 12, 2013
Isabella reporting,

Last month I shared part one of a video of the mantua-makers of the Margaret Hunter shop, Colonial Williamsburg creating this 18th c. silk gown, left, in a single day. The second part of the video is now online to watch here. Through cutting, fitting, pinning, stitching, and even decorative pinking, the video demonstrates how these skilled tradeswomen replicated a gown that would have made their Georgian counterparts proud.

The emphasis on the women's hands as they work is especially beautiful. Today so few things are made by hand - any hands - that we often forget the magic rhythm of creation, and the now-rare satisfaction that can come from it as well. Watch, and enjoy.


Unknown said...

Thank you for this amazing video! It is wonderful to watch! I was surprised by the tight fit of the silk; was the movement of the upper body really very restricted? I guess that I always assumed that present-day representations of the past fashions exaggerated their 'form-fittedness'. I really appreciate these history lessons!

Isabella Bradford/Susan Holloway Scott said...

Many thanks for the kind words! Yes, this dress is close-fitting by modern standards. Eighteenth century clothing WAS close-fitting through the shoulders, both for women and for men, and the fact that nearly all clothing was made specifically for the wearer permitted garments to be precisely tailored and fitted.

A wide range of motion wasn't particularly necessary for a lady who wore a silk gown like this one. For working women, clothes were cut with more ease in the arms and shoulders. Check out our posts about how a woman blacksmith dressed for examples:

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