Sunday, July 24, 2016

The HSM 2016; Challenge No. 8: Patterns

The Historical Sew Monthly challenge for the month of August is Patterns--all the varieties of patterned fabrics, and the garments which feature said patterns.  A vast subject, as I found when I volunteered to write this inspiration post--I mean I knew it was large, but this is almost ridiculous.  I will be doing my best to include things for everyone, and barely touching on the history of individual patterned fabrics.

Late 13th Century Lampa brocade.  Italy.  V and A

The challenge says "Make Something in Pattern, the bolder and wilder, the better."  While bolder is better, you could go for something more subtle, like a nice damask (such as the green banyan further down the page).  This means that plaids and stripes, visibly patterned twills (diamond twill, for instance), paisleys, various brocades and patterned velvets, and the wide variety of forms of printed fabrics are all distinct fabrics which have been embroidered all over, quilted together, or crotchet/knit--so long as it has a visible all over pattern!

 Bear in mind that a lot of the patterns--especially brocades, patterned velvets, and such--are all expensive materials...hence why the majority of the following examples are upper class.  But that doesn't mean those of us who prefer lower class get left out...just may require more searching, is all.

For this post, since I'm not writing a massive article covering the history of all kinds of patterns fabrics (I thought about it...then my mind melted), I will be going chronologically, and trying to cater to everyone.  When I began gathering images for this article, I found (and intended to find) far more than I could possible include--the rest are in a pinterest board, Pattern HSM. (Gentlemen, I'm trying to behave and not fill this article with brightly coloured waistcoats and banyans--select examples are in the board).
Huldremose woman bog find--2nd century BC
And starting with one of the few, decent images I can find of something from the Iron age--the Huldremose bog find, with a peplos (or bog dress) in an obvious, simple plaid.    You continue to see fragments of woven patterned--simple plaids, stripes, and occasionally fancy twills (like the Thorsjberg trousers) in the archaeological record, but they are usually just that--fragmentary pieces with little remaining of the original garment.  A few examples are gathered in this blog post from another re-enactor.

And so, we move forwards to the middle ages:

Pierpont Morgan Library, Lisle hours (MS G.50). MS G.50 fol. 6v 1316-31
 There is this horizontally striped, kirtle patterned with either woven in (maybe...) or block printed patterns.  Now that I look closer, I think that may be a dude...sometimes it's hard to tell in upper class illuminations.  It may also be allegorical, but I'm not going to hold that against him.

Altarpiece from the Castle of Santa Coloma de Queralt, ca. 1365. Museu d'Art de Catalunya, Barcelona.
Plaid cottes appear occasionally--typically from Spain.  Interestingly, they are often mi-parti (split down the center) with a solid on the other side, and with the plaid cut on the bias.
Conveniently, another blogger put together and shared an article giving a number of examples of patterned 14th century garments.

Martyrdom of Saint Agnes. Missale ad usum fratrum minorum, c.1385-1390, Latin 757, f. 298r, Bibliothèque nationale de France.
A cotte of some form of woven patterned fabric.

La Quête du Saint Graal et la Mort d'Arthus, d. 6r.  3rd Quarter of the 1300s.
And both are wearing patterned cottes; his in a brocade, and hers possibly block printed.  There is also this massive board containing hundreds of examples of medieval and renaissance patterned fabrics.

Boar and Bear Hunt (detail), 1425-1430, probably made in Arras, France. Museum no. T.204-1957. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Or a fur lined cloak/gown of red brocade (possibly with bezants or pearls? to boot!) from the The Devonshire Hunting Tapestry (1425-30).

Bianca Maria Sforza, probably 1493 Giovanni Ambrogio de Predis

Portrait of a young Lady from Lübeck (c. 1520)" by Jacob van Utrecht
And as a smaller project, this lady is wearing a gollar--a short capelet like outergarment to cover and warm the shoulders--in a lovely damask.

Portrait of a Young Woman, Netherlandish (ca. 1535).  Accession No. 49.7.32, MET.
Or if you prefer, a full gown in a patterned velvet.  Note the massive repeat, which is normal for women's clothing in this period.

Portret van een ridder in de orde van Calatrava, vermoedelijk van het geslacht Sorias of Sorea. (Knight of Calatrava).  Frans Pourbus the Elder.
And for the guys: A lovely example of a horizontally patterned doublet.'s not a woven in pattern.  Or at least, I didn't think so--I suppose it could be gold (actual cloth of gold...) striped black velvet, with small applied sections of matching velvet around the collar and buttonholes.

I love this one--I wish I had noted the details (the slashed roll at the top of the collar and around the armscye) when I was working on my striped doublet.

Portrait of Constance of Habsburg. 1626.  Pieter Claesz. Soutman

Late 17th Century Mantua.  MET, Accession no. 33.54a, b
 Now this is an interesting piece of court wear; made of wool and embroidered all over in silver thread.

"Recueil des modes de la cour de France, 'Dame de Qualité en Habit d'Esté'" at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angele. 1682-83.
 A fashion plate showing the underskirt(?) in a brocade.  And with fringe, no less--perfect for sweeping the floor.

1725, Britsh.  MET C.I.64.14
 Made of Spitalfields silkSpitalfields (link to a thesis on the London silk trade) was (and still is) a London parish historically known for its silk weavers. 

1740s, French.  MET C.I.62.27a–c
One of the earlier examples of "ditto" suits, consisting of a pair of breeches, waistcoat, and frock coat all of the same material.

Bodice.  1735-50.  National Trust NT 1349938.3
Part of a heavily boned bodice, of French blue silk brocade with a large repeat.

1742-50.  Philadelphia Museum of Art 1995-98-8
A Robe à l'anglaise made of Spitalfields silk, noted as being of Silk Lampasette, and made in the United States.

1740s Banyan.  British.  MET 1981.352.4
 And a lovely, double-breasts banyan in green silk, patterned after the fashion of coats of the time.

2nd half of the 1700s.  Centraal Museum
A printed chintz dressing gown and matching waistcoat from Holland (fwi, the Dutch term appears to be Herenkamerjas).  Note that the printing was done with the pattern in mind, with the pockets, front opening, and hem all decorated in place.  The chintz would be cotton, and it is linen lined.

1765. LACMA  M.2007.211.925a-b
 Robe à la française of plaid silk taffeta.

1770s.  Bunka Fashion College, Japan.
Now here's something interesting.  This water colour painting clearly shows a lady's outfit made of multiple prints.  There are more here, if you scroll down.

1778-85.  MET  C.I.65.13.2a–c
And for a different pattern--a striped silk Robe à la française from...France.  Go figure.

1785 Waistcoat.  Colonial Williamsburg
Because for the better part of a hundred years (but not quite yet), bright colours in men's clothing was the delegated duty of the waistcoat, and I am somewhat spoiled for choices of boldly patterned ones, I included only the most eye-bleeding.

Double breasted waistcoat, made of silk, with silk twill trim on the front, hem, and welts/flaps.

1800 Museo del Traje MT00402-MT00404
 And menswear is moving towards more understated colours and patterns, although this one is toeing the line.  The jacket is silk lined with cotton, and both waistcoat and breeches are also silk.

Evening shoes, English.  1800-10.  Manchester Gallery 
 White leather shoes, printed with a green check--just in case any of you ladies want to try your hand at shoemaking or modifying something you have in this style. 
Along those lines, you also see heavily embroidered and fabric covered shoes from the 1700s and onward, which could be embroidered at home, and sent to the cordwainer to be assembled.

1803 Swedish  museum. 1923-10-09
Wool and linen dress reportedly from Fanbyn, Anundsjö Sweden (or at least woven there).

1810 Gown, French.  MET 11.60.227a–c
 A fine cotton gown from 1810, covered in printed vinework.

1815 Banyan.  The MET  2009.300.999
 One of the few patchworked examples I have, a Regency era banyan or dressing gown made of printed cottons.  I love this garment enough that I wrote an article on it.

1815 Redingote.  Kyoto Costume Institute AC10793 2003-2-1
 A French redingote in striped cotton.  If you look at Regency dresses, they weren't all white--many were boldly coloured, and/or had vertical patterns.

1815 France. LACMA M.2010.33.7
 A silk and wool plaid men's frock coat residing in the LACMA--this is one of the garments they made patterns of.

1838 Philadelphia Museum of Art 1936-23-2
 Day dress of "Warp-printed silk taffeta".

1839 Eglinton Waistcoat. V and A
 A waistcoat of white wool, with a complicated design.  The cloth it is made of was created for the Eglinton tournament of 1839--a Victorian re-enactment of a medieval Joust (which--spoiler--went terribly due to a violent storm) .  Come to think, something based on that tournament would work for the Historicism challenge.

1840s wool and silk Gown.  MET  2009.300.43
1850s Dress. Philadelphia Museum  1949-66-1a--c
  An absolutely stunning silk brocade gown.  I love that shade of blue, with the contrasts.

1855 Waistcoat.  LACMA M.2007.211.821
Another brilliantly contrasting fabric, a waistcoat made in (silk) cut and voided velvet with brocading.  Look at that pattern matching!

Paisleys are under represented in this article, I know--not sure why.  So, if that's your style, I'm going to point you at the Dreamstress's board gathering hundreds of examples of paisley in all kinds of clothing/accessories.

1860-70 Wool suit.  LACMA  M.2010.33.9a-b
And then...there's this unusual plaid ensemble from the 1860s (I think it may be a body-sac, the precursor to the modern suit jacket)

1860s Dress.  Litchfield Historical Society 1973-20-3 A,B
 Striped satin and moire dress with the classic '60s bell.  It's also not uncommon to see '60s dresses in plaid.

1864 Boy's Dress. LACMA AC1997.191.16
 Here's something somewhat interesting--especially since there was recently a discussion on the breeching on the Historical Sew Monthly fb group--a boy's dress.  It's rather adorable, really.

1875 Dressing Gown.  The MET 2009.300.124
 Wool and silk dressing gown with a paisley pattern.  The museum note calls it "a quintessential dressing gown of the period".

1884 Bustle Dress.  MnHS  9975.1.A,B

1910 Dress. Norsk Folkemuseum  NF.1962-0395
 Bold plaid and lace dress from Oslo, Norway.

1916 Silk Dress.  FIDM Museum  L2011.13.975 

1926 Art Deco Dress. The MET  1998.235.5a, b
And for a completely different , a silk dress printed with art deco style patterns.

1929 Dress, LACMA  57.43a-b
Draped afternoon dress made in printed semi-sheer lame.

And now, I'm moving out of chronological, and into the smaller projects and accessories.
1870-80 Bootees. The MET  2009.300.1894a, b
Crotchetted baby boots, with a button closure.

1875 dress-improver V and A  T.69-1980
Multi-tiered dress-improver (vulgarly, bustle pad) made of a paisley scarf.
19th Century Apron. The MET  C.I.69.32.8
American, plaid silk apron from the Mid-1800s. I see no reason it couldn't be made of a plaid cotton or lighter wool as well.
1590-1610 Coifs.  V and A 
Dropping back in period to the late 16th century, we have a pair of lady's coifs, covered in an all over pattern of blackwork embroidery.  This style of coif was often covered in embroidery, both mono-chrome and more coloured.
19th Century Bag.  Smithsonian  1957-180-15
A tiny French bag (11.4 x 7.6 cm), crotchetted in silk.

18th Cen. Garters.  MFA  55.601a
Or for something even quicker, perhaps a pair of garters embroidered in "rococo stitch".  It's not completely covered, but the primary portion is.
You also see heavily embroidered braces (suspenders), often made as a gift.

Mid 18th Cen Gloves.  Nordiska Museet 
A pair of Swedish knit gloves, with "needle-punched" (nålbunden?) cuffs.  What does mönsterbårder mean (in relation to the decoration)?
1790-1800, Manchester Art Gallery (supposedly. I was unable to find the page)
As mentioned before, low shoes or slippers with simple decorations are a possiblity as well,

1750 American Handkerchief.  The MET  2009.300.5290
If you are /really/ running out of time, you could always make a simple kerchief or shawl of patterned linen (silk and cotton are also options), like this 18th century example.

Hussif.  Philadelphia Museum 1909-110
For another small project, there are hussifs, or needle cases; often, they were made of scraps of patterned and fancy fabrics.

17th century Gaming Purse.  The MET  2009.300.2066
And one of my personal favourites--someday I may make one as a dice bag, simply because I'm a geek; an emboidered velvet gaming purse from 17th century France.

This is by no means even close to a complete list of patterned garments--they were far too popular in most eras for that (and show up even more in the record, since patterned fabrics were expensive and more likely to be preserved in portraits or attics).  As always, if you aren't certain whether the idea you have for your entry is suitable, contact myself or one of the other moderators.
SmoothSewing, and I look forwards to seeing what y'all come up with!

© John Frey, 2016. The Author of this work retains full copyright for this material. Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of this document for non-commercial private research or educational purposes provided the copyright notice and this permission notice are preserved on all copies.  


  1. Lovely set of inspiration images!

    The Pierpoint Morgan MS image is, indeed, a man. It's an image of 'the three living and the three dead', a story about three noblemen who encounter three dead men whilst out hunting. The corpses admonish the noblemen, telling them to consider the transience of life and to repent.

    The Swedish gloves, from the image, definitely have naalbound cuffs. Very interesting!

  2. Not sure if we're supposed to post the links here, but I made a pair of pockets. I'm terribly late to the party but hopefully I'll get a few more challenges in before the year ends!

    1. Yup, you are. Glad to see you hopefully getting back into it!

      (p.s. Check your "Other" folder on Facebook)

  3. I made a 1920s blouse:

    1. It's hard, when the challenge doesn't really match up with your style preferences. It should be possible to shorten/narrow the sleeves, if you feel you must.

  4. Yes, I probably will alter the sleeves again, but for now I'm just happy, the thing is done!

  5. I'm afraid I'm quite late, but I did finally finish the project I started in early August for this challenge - a block-print 1790s dress that ended up being entirely hand-sewn: