Tag Archives: regency era

Collected Resources: Underclothing Cartoons

Over the course of my Div III research — and especially while preparing the lecture on corset history that I gave in the Hampshire course Sex, Science, and the Victorian Body — I have found a variety of cartoons, from various periods, that mock (and exaggerate!) prevailing fashions of underclothing. Since I’ve found them in so many places, and since such images might be of interest to others, I’m collecting what I’ve found here, and will continue to add to this post as time goes on.

  • Black, J. Anderson, and Madge Garland. A History of Fashion. New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1980.

Images: 1819 cartoon of dandies and “dandizettes” in the early stages of dressing, complete with very exaggerated hair and male corsets, page 176; a mid-19th century cartoon depicting a group of women surrounding a man trapped in a cage crinoline, with the caption “The punishment awarded by the ladies, to the artist who made those impertinent drawings about crinoline!” page 199.

Image: “A Bustling Woman — 1829 — after Cruikshank” of a woman with an extremely puffed out skirt apparently selling a padded bustle to a woman with a far less impressive skirt, with other bustle hanging behind the proprietress, page 134; “From ‘Cupid and Crinolines,’ 1858,” a cartoon of a maid lifting an absolutely enormous crinoline over the head of a woman who is quite dwarfed by the exaggerated garment, page 166.

Image: “The new machine for Winding up the Ladies Caricature of tightlacing by ‘Paul Pry’ c. 1828″ on page 69.

Collected Resources: Cloth Fingerless Mitts

Even though I have no immediate plans to make cloth fingerless mitts, I’m very interested in exploring the possibility of making them, especially since the basic skill, and base pattern, would translate into various periods easily. Over the course of my research for other projects, I’ve found some good images of mitts of this type, and even found some construction information, both in print and online. So I’m using this post to collect that information, and keep track of it as I find it. Hopefully I’ll eventually translate my collected research into making a reproduction pair of mitts!

Print Resources:

  • Black, J. Anderson, and Madge Garland. A History of Fashion. New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1980.

Image: Regency era, early 19th century painting by Ingres of a young woman in a short-sleeved gown worn with very long fingerless mitts, cut with a fairly straight curve across the knuckles, on page 9.

Online Resources:

1830s stays of white cotton sateen with white embroidery

These stays actually made it all the way through second mock-up and massive quantities of research and planning before I ran out of time during my Div III, and sadly, I haven’t gotten back to them yet. But soon, I’ll post my research.

In the meantime, here’s a link to my Pinterest board for 1830s Stays.

1830s rectangle-cut shift of white cotton

Inspiration: The basic shift in The Workwoman’s Guide and an early 19th century shift at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, accession number 99.664.51
Pattern: Drafted almost verbatim from the directions in the WWG in the largest size, but with slight alterations, to give it the right fit and proportions on my frame and to get it closer to the sleeve style of the MFA shift, which seems common, based on my research.
Fabric: 36″ wide white cotton utility muslin from JoAnn’s, cut narrower in order to follow the WWG drafting instructions as closely as possible
Thread: Plain cotton thread in white
Construction: Entirely hand-sewn
Seam finishes: Most seams have the seam allowances folded in against one another and overcast, but the two long side seams are finished with a run-and-fell seam.
Fun fact: When I finished sewing this, it was late at night…and I proceeded to put on my very comfy-looking shift and give it a test drive: I slept in it. It was indeed very comfy! And none of the seams bothered me at all.
Current Status: Finished! At some point, I may choose to add narrow sleeve ruffles like on the MFA inspiration shift and some others, but that’s just a possibility for the future. For the moment, it is DONE! Pictures soon.

I drafted this using the instructions in The Workwoman’s Guide, published 1838, for the “largest size” (of four), but I changed a couple of dimensions slightly in order to get the right fit and proportions on my frame, and to make it look like the inspiration shift in the MFA collection. As an exercise in taking the period approach, I kept all the measurements in nails rather than converting to similar measurements in inches. A nail is 2 ¼ inches; it’s also 1/16th of a yard.

I lengthened the front and back each 2 nails, or 4 ½ inches, (ergo, I lengthened the entire body piece by four nails), because the extant shifts I could find images of, and period illustrations of women with shifts on seemed to imply that shifts were quite long – at least mid-calf – in this period, and I’m quite tall for any time period, at 5’9″, and curvy, so that leads to additional take-up of length, especially under stays. Plus, I figured I could always cut off excess length or do a larger hem if needed, but it would be very unfortunate if my shift ended up too short.

I also changed the sleeve and sleeve gusset proportions slightly. I lengthened and widened the sleeve itself, to make it hit just above my elbow, and to make sure that there was some ease around my both-muscular-and-plump upper arms. I also made the gusset smaller, because none of the originals I could find images of seemed to have such large gussets and I didn’t need all that space. And, again, to make it look more like my inspiration image from the MFA, and other similar shifts that seem to represent common styles.

I’ll add more detail about the drafting and construction of this shift later, as well as images. For the moment, here are some resources…

A resource available both online and in print:

Also available, digitally and free of cost, via Google Books. The section on drafting this style of shift is on pages 46-47, with images on plate 6. Note that in the print version, that plate falls between the two text pages.

Print resources:

This book includes a slightly earlier shift, circa 1780-1810, that is quite similar in construction to many 1830s period shifts. The book includes written details about the shift as well as photographs, schematic drawings, and a pattern diagram. It was a helpful reference for figuring out what the WWG was referring to, and guessing how to go about construction.

There is a photograph of an extant chemise, circa 1825, with a ruffled neck edge, on page 129. This may be the same chemise shown on a model in Fabric of Society, because the same bodiced petticoat is in the photograph with this shift.

Extant garments on mannequins: a “chemise” dated 1820s can be seen on a mannequin who is also wearing stays and drawers, with puffed sleeves and ruffles around the neckline and sleeve bands, which reaches just below the knee on the mannequin, on page 200; on another mannequin, peeking out from under a “corset,” sleeve puffs, and corded petticoat, all dated 1830s, another “chemise” can be just seen, with a ruffle at the neckline and straight, slim sleeves that probably reach to just above the elbow and are finished with ruffles, on page 201.

There is some information about shifts of a similar but different style on pages 369 and 370. Additionally, the information on different “Common Stitches and Seams” was quite helpful, see pages 305-314.

An 1835 shift with a different type of construction is depicted on pages 12-13, with text, line drawings, and a detail photograph. The same shift is depicted, on a mannequin with other garments, in Four Hundred Years of Fashion, and can also be viewed on the V&A website.

Image 75, a photograph of a mannequin in 1830s underclothing, on page 35, with further information on page 143 about each individual garment: shift, circa 1835 (T.386-1960); drawers, circa 1834 (T.102-1931); corset, circa 1835 (T.3-1929). The same shift is pictured on page 12 of Underwear: Fashion in Detail, and can be viewed on the V&A website.

There is some discussion of the surviving collection of 1820s underclothing marked “Fanny Jarvis” on page 67, and a photograph of a model actually wearing a full complement of these antique undergarments, on page 68. Additionally, there is a full-color image of the four-part lithograph The Stages of the Toilette, circa 1830, on page 68. From the photograph of extant garments, the length of the shift cannot be determined, because the model is wearing other garments, including a bodiced petticoat, over the shift, but the sleeves reach to just above the elbow, and are relatively slim, cut straight. The shift in the lithograph is very long, reaching to at least mid-calf, and has full, puffed sleeves.

Online resources:

  • My inspiration shift at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, accession number 99.664.51. It has the basic cutting pattern, with straight sleeves and small-to-medium sleeve gussets, and no neckline ruffle, though it does have small sleeve ruffles, which I may add to my shift at some point.
  • A post on the mid-19th century authentic sewing forum, The Sewing Academy, in which user Beth Chamberlain posted an image of the above shift, on which she had helpfully drawn in the construction lines of the long triangles of fabric which are essentially swung from the sides at the top to the sides at the bottom in construction.
  • Another early 19th century shift at the MFA (accession number 52.1777), this one with a neckline ruffle and sleeve ruffles of a finer fabric than the body of the shift. It has straight sleeves, but they are gathered somewhat at the top of the shoulder.
  • The 1835 shift in the V&A Collection (accession number T.386-1960) that is constructed along different lines, with puffed sleeves and shoulder straps. This is the same shift that was mentioned above, as it was depicted in both Four Hundred Years of Fashion and Underwear: Fashion in Detail.

Intro: Mid 18th to early 19th century red wool cloak

Inspiration: The general fabulousness of red wool cloaks (also, piles of snow!)
Pattern: Drafted from Costume Close-Up, #10, Cloak, c. 1750-1810, in the Colonial Williamsburg collection (#1953-968), p 54-56 and color plate 2, with a slight alteration and additional piecing due to yardage constraints
Fabric: Just over two yards of 60-odd-inch-wide coating-weight wool flannel in vivid scarlet red, pieced within an inch of its life
Lining: Front edge facings and hood lining of black silk habotai
Thread: Plain cotton thread in matching red and in black (I couldn’t afford silk)
Closure: Two inch wide black silk satin ribbons which tie at the neck, purchased from Timely Tresses
Construction: Entirely hand-sewn
Fun fact: I had to do quite a bit of piecing in order to get away with using the fabric I had, but it’s really quite difficult to see, because the pieces of fulled wool are butted up against one another and overcast. The original had one bit of piecing, making an ostensibly 4-piece pattern actually five pieces. Mine was nine pieces. When I finished cutting out the fabric, I had literally only a handful of amassed scrap material leftover – of heavy coating-weight wool. Seriously.
Current Status: Finished! (Update! Now with photos to prove it! 3/25/12)

My Reproduction Red Wool Cloak

(Never mind the later period reproduction quilted petticoat under the cloak. My mannequin looked creepy and naked with only the cloak on,  so it is wearing my c. mid 18th century to early 19th century repro cloak with my 1830s-1850s repro quilted petticoat. Which also clashes slightly. Shh, moving on.)

Current Status, in more detail: (Update May 1, 2011) The cloak is now entirely finished! After the ribbon arrived from Timely Tresses, I cut lengths of it and stitched it to the front edges of the cloak. I then proceeded to run around the house in the cloak, in spite of the fact that it’s now full spring and quite warm out. Despite how very unseasonable it now is, I’m very fond of the cloak. Although I must admit that the shaping, which is the same as the shaping of the original in Costume Close-Up, drapes more nicely on people with a slighter build, and narrower shoulders, than I have. Nevertheless, I can and will wear it.

(Status update from April 24, 2011) Happily, the cloak is essentially finished. Unhappily, it has been essentially finished for months. It came together quite quickly initially, due to a confluence of events involving winter inspiration, falling in love with the extant cloak depicted in Costume Close-Up, discovering that I had the perfect wool already, fiendish determination to find a way to cut the pattern out of not-nearly-enough fabric, an epic patterning and cutting effort, and conveniently timed illness that gave me four days of complete uselessness during which I was somehow still capable of executing tiny, perfect hand-stitches. (I don’t believe in feigning modesty about my hand-sewing skills. I am, in fact, quite vain about my hand-sewing.) I was able to construct the cloak, which is made of a coating-weight red wool flannel, with a lining for the hood and facings for the front edges, out of black silk habotai. Both of these things I had on hand, and I was able to buy matching red cotton thread.

But could I get my hands on black silk ribbon? No, I could not. Silk ribbons are notoriously difficult to find, and I was quite unwilling to use synthetic substitutes on a garment that I had spent an astonishing number of hours painstakingly constructing, entirely by hand (including nearly-invisible piecing to get the most out of my scant yardage), of high-quality natural fibers. For such a heavy garment, I didn’t want to try faking ribbons using my habotai. I didn’t have any black silk taffeta on hand, or I might have considered using that. The poor cloak has had to wait until I got around to ordering my millinery supplies – because I was able to buy black silk satin ribbon from Timely Tresses, along with everything needful for my charmingly enormous 1830s bonnet. The order has finally been placed, and with luck, the ribbon will arrive soon, and I will attach it to the cloak in short order. Then it will have ties! Once it has ties, I’ll be able to put it on, and will cut the arm slits. I marked them already, but I want to make certain they’re in the right place.

My Cloak, Side View

Further information online:

Print resources:

It was surprisingly easy to figure out how to put this cloak together – a great deal of information gets packed into the entries in this book! I really can’t recommend it highly enough. I wish there were more resources like this for the 19th century! See the annotated bibliography entry for more information. The cloak is on pages 54-56 and color plate 2.

There is an example of a similar cloak pictured on page 53, with substantial accompanying information on that cloak, a particularly fine example, and red cloaks in general, on page 54. It is noted (without citation) that “It would be typical Sunday best for an English village woman from the mid-eighteenth to the early nineteenth century. After that date. the younger element were more likely to wear mantles, pelisses and shawls, and the scarlet cloak became an old woman’s garment by the 1830’s” (page 54).


Last updated March 25, 2012, to add pictures.

Intro: 19th Century Sewing

Fashions, ideas about clothes, and approaches to sewing changed a great deal over the course of the 19th century. This makes it difficult to make accurate generalizations – at some later date I shall return to this post and go into more detail, but in the meantime, if you’re looking for research resources…

Specific eras of fashion in the 19th century get their own tags:

These books are all helpful for studying 19th century clothing:

Arnold, Janet. Patterns of Fashion 1: Englishwomen’s dresses and their construction c. 1660-1860. New York: Drama Book Specialists/Publishers, 1978.

Arnold, Janet. Patterns of Fashion 2: Englishwomen’s dresses and their construction c. 1860-1940. New York: Drama Book Specialists/Publishers, 1993.

Bassett, Lynne Zacek. Textiles for Regency Clothing 1800-1850: A Workbook of Swatches and Information. Formerly titled Textiles for Clothing of the Early Republic. Arlington, Virginia: Q Graphics Production Company, Product division of Sally Queen & Associates, 2001.

Beaudoin-Ross, Jacqueline. Form and Fashion: Nineteenth Century Montreal Dress (Formes et modes: Le costume à Montréal au XIXͤ siècle). Montreal: McCord Museum of Canadian History, 1992.

Blum, Stella, Edited and with an Introduction by. Fashions and Costumes from Godey’s Lady’s Book; Including 8 Plates in Full Color. New York: Dover Publications, Inc.,  1985.

*Bradfield, Nancy. Costume in Detail: Women’s Dress 1730-1930. Hollywood: Costume & Fashion Press, 2009.

Clark, Elizabeth Stewart. The Dressmaker’s Guide; 1840-1860. 2nd edition, Revised & Expanded. Idaho Falls, Idaho: Elizabeth Stewart Clark & Company, 2009.

Cunnington, C. Willett. English Women’s Clothing in the Nineteenth Century.London: Faber and Faber Ltd., 1937.

Dalrymple, Priscilla Harris. American Victorian Costume in Early Photographs. New York: Dover, 1991.

Ewing, Elizabeth. Everyday Dress 1650-1900. London: B. T. Batsford Ltd., 1984.

Fukai, Akiko, Ed. Fashion: A History from the 18th to the 20th Century (The Collection of the Kyoto Costume Institute)2006 edition published by Barnes & Noble by arrangement. Köln: Taschen, 2006.

Ginsburg, Madeleine. Victorian Dress in Photographs. New York: Holmes & Meier Publishers, Inc., 1983.

Grimble, Frances. After a Fashion: How to Reproduce, Restore, And Wear Vintage Styles: Middle Ages to Art Deco, For Men and Women, Updated and Expanded. 2nd edition. Illustrated by Deborah Kuhn. San Francisco: Lavolta Press, 1998.

Grimble, Frances, Edited, Translated, and with Additional Material by. The Lady’s Stratagem: A Repository of 1820s Directions for the Toilet, Mantua-Making, Stay-Making, Millinery & Etiquette. San Francisco: Lavolta Press, 2009.

Grimble, Frances, Edited and with Additional Information by. Reconstruction Era Fashions: 350 Sewing, Needlework, and Millinery Patterns 1867-1868San Francisco: Lavolta Press, 2001.

Johnston, Lucy. Nineteenth Century Fashion in Detail. London: V&A Publishing, 2009.

Lady, A (Anonymous). The Workwoman’s Guide: A Guide to 19th Century Decorative Arts, Fashion and Practical Crafts (A Facsimile Reproduction of the Original 1838 Edition). Guilford, Connecticut: Opus Publications with Old Sturbridge Village, 1986.

Leisch, Juanita. Who Wore What: Women’s Wear 1861-1865. Gettysburg, Pennsylvania: Thomas Publications, 1995.

Lynn, Eleri. Underwear: Fashion in Detail. London: V&A Publishing, 2010.

Mackenzie, Althea. Hats and Bonnets, from Snowshill, one of the world’s leading collections of costume and accessories of the 18th and 19th centuries.London: The National Trust, 2004.

Mackenzie, Althea. Shoes and Slippers, from Snowshill, one of the world’s leading collections of costume and accessories of the 18th and 19th centuries.London: The National Trust, 2004.

Miller, Marla R. The Needle’s Eye: Women and Work in the Age of Revolution.Amherst, Massachusetts: University of Massachusetts Press, 2006.

Montgomery, Florence. Textiles in America 1650-1870: A Dictionary based on original documents, prints and paintings, commercial records, American merchants’ papers, shopkeepers’ advertisements, and pattern books with original swatches of clothNew York: W. W. Norton and Company, 2007.

Olian, JoAnne, Ed. 80 Godey’s Full-Color Fashion Plates: 1838-1880Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1998.

Rexford, Nancy E. Women’s Shoes in America, 1795-1930Kent, Ohio: The Kent State University Press, 2000.

Ribeiro, Aileen. The Art of Dress: Fashion in England and France 1750-1820. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995.

Salen, Jill. Corsets: Historic Patterns and TechniquesHollywood: Costume & Fashion Press, 2008.

Severa, Joan L. Dressed for the Photographer: Ordinary Americans and Fashion, 1840-1900Kent, Ohio: The Kent State University Press, 1995.

Severa, Joan L. My Likeness Taken: Daguerreian Portraits in America. Kent, Ohio: The Kent State University Press, 2005.

*Shep, R. L. Civil War Ladies: Fashions and Needle-Arts of the Early 1860′s; Primary Source Material from Peterson’s Magazine 1861 and 1864; Additional Hair Styles and Hair Jewelry from Campbell’s “Self-Instructor in the Art of Hair Work.” Mendocino, California: R. L. Shep, 1987.

Staniland, Kay. In Royal Fashion: The Clothes of Princess Charlotte of Wales & Queen Victoria 1796-1901London: Museum of London, 1997.

Steele, Valerie. The Corset: A Cultural History. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 2001.

Takeda, Sharon Sadako, and Kaye Durland Spilker. Fashioning Fashion: European Dress in Detail 1700-1915. Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2010.

Tozer, Jane, and Sarah Levitt. Fabric of Society: A Century of People and their Clothes 1770-1870: Essays inspired by the collections at Platt Hall, The Gallery of English Costume, ManchesterCarno, Powys, Wales: Laura Ashley Limited, 1983.

Trestain, Eileen Jahnke. Dating Fabrics: A Color Guide 1800-1960Paducah, Kentucky: American Quilter’s Society, 1998.

Waugh, Norah. Corsets and CrinolinesNew York: Theatre Arts Books, 1970.

Waugh, Norah. The Cut of Men’s Clothes 1600-1900. London: Faber and Faber Limited, 1964.

Waugh, Norah. The Cut of Women’s Clothes 1600-1930New York: Theatre Arts Books, 1968.

Whitaker-Augusta Auction Company. Tasha Tudor Historic Costume Collection.Philadelphia: Whitaker-Augusta Auction Company, 2007.

Updated August 7, 2012.