As it happens when researching these things, one ah-ha leads to many questions. I am blogging all this so I don’t forget anything and so please forgive my rambling from one subject to another. So after I went “oh crud” and joked about a lot of stitching in front of American
football to make those covered seams, I started to think about the order of
things. This was great as I verbalized it to Susan and she went and got a
colleague of hers who is working on the pattern book and had been thinking
about exactly these questions about the Laton jacket.
So the back
seam on the arm would have to be joined and then embroidered upon. Also
the godets or gussets would have to be installed on the fronts and backs
and then embroidered. Also the fronts would need to be joined to the back
along the side seams and then embroidered. Then the rest of the seams could be made along with the cuffs, collar and wings being installed.
Again the vertical integration idea came up. Well, I asked, then who sewed
the initial seams? A tailor on-site with the embroiderers or the
embroiderers themselves? Or could the tailor embroider plaited braid. Susan and her colleague felt that the well known tailors guild and
embroiderers guild meant that the people were separate and the pieces would
have been turned over. The implication was that the initial seams were done by the embroiderers and then the partially completed jacket was turned over to a tailor’s shop who finished it.
They brought up that
the bespoke (English for Custom-Made) nature of the jackets meant that the
tailor had made a muslin for the person or had modified a general pattern
they had using measurements they had made of the person. They mentioned
that measurements weren’t like we make them, in inches, but more like
positions on a tape. The order would then have been to draw the outline of
the pattern pieces on pieces of linen to then send to the embroiderer’s
workshop for design application and embroidery. They mentioned evidence
from inventory books that the commissioner may have supplied the linen
themselves to the tailor. (This brought up the question about suppling
embroidery threads too). Certainly we can see on many jackets that the embroidery was worked to the pattern outline and stopped and that on many jackets the outline is visible and so hasn’t been altered. I had asked if they thought that there could have been an industry supplying partially completed jackets for final construction after purchase. I mentioned this in light of the comment in ‘The French Garden’ about embroidered jackets for sale in the Royal Exchange, implying ‘Ready-Made’. Susan and her colleague really felt that the jackets were commissioned bespoke. And certainly there is plenty of evidence from the garments themselves to support that along with the great cost we now know in making them on risk of having a buyer.
about the linen and pattern making.
Here’s a good idea, thanks Carol and Kimberly. This is the left upper sleeve as of today, April 9th. Each sleeve is composed of two parts, the upper and the under. The top of the upper sleeve has a convex curve to go over the top of the shoulder; the under has a concave curve to go under the underarm. Otherwise they’re the same shape. To me it looks about half done; about as many spaces as colored-in bits. But then when you consider all the gold work that has to be done, plus the sequins to be sewn on in every blank space, plus the detached bits to stitch and then sew on (the top layer of the pea pods and the butterfly wings), well, there’s plenty left to do.
Here is a cluster of motifs from the back of the jacket. At about seven o’clock is one of the dreaded trefoils; about ten there’s a sweet pea flower and pea pod; at twelve a honeysuckle with the pink & red buds; one o’clock a spiky-winged butterfly; at two most of a thistle; at about four o’clock is part of a foxglove. You can see an unstitched rose on the left, various buds, rose hips and leaves here & there; and the blank (for now) vine twining around all. Notice the little curlicues that spring from the vine; I was mentioning those yesterday. In the extreme lower right corner you can see part of another trefoil, with the vein of the leaf marked. All the trefoils and most of the other leaves have those veins. They’ll later be stitched in gold.
I’ll intersperse these posts with others, but I’ll get pictures up of all the pieces so you can see where we are. And after this coming weekend, when we have a work session, I’ll post another picture of this sleeve so you can see what was done on it. Overall, I think this piece is more done than some (the jacket fronts, for instance, are less densely covered than this) and less done than others (the jacket back, perhaps, the wings, the gussets for sure). So, pretty representative. The reason I picked it, though, is less well-thought-out than it might seem – this frame was at the front of the cupboard.
AUGUST DATES: There’s been a little confusion about the dates of the August embroidery bee. We’ll be meeting and embroidering for three days, WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 8, THURSDAY, AUGUST 9, AND FRIDAY, AUGUST 10. On the questionnaire that went out with the sample kits there’s a typo which I will not reproduce here lest I cause more confusion. These are the right dates. See you in Plymouth.
Tricia describes the process of adapting the embroidery pattern for the cuffs, collar, and wings, (which are absent from the jacket whose embroidery pattern we’re using):
The jacket pattern that we are working with has a collar, cuffs, and the little wings that come from the shoulders. When it came time to transfer the pattern to these pieces, we had to do a little research. The jacket we are adapting does not have these details, so how do we choose? For the collar, we looked at several examples to see if the collar had a mirrored pattern or was cut out from the repeat. The second question to answer was if the design was right side up or upside down when viewed from the back. [Jill here. The collar is a small semi-circular piece of cloth, on the left in the first picture. It is sewn to the center back neckline. The collar hangs down the back, with the embroidered side up. The side that touches the back of the jacket is unworked.] On the ones we looked at, the collar is cut from the repeat such that the curve of a coil fit in the center rounded part of the collar. This means it is viewed upside down when installed in the jacket. The jackets we viewed also showed that the pattern on the collar matched almost exactly the pattern on the part of the back of the jacket which was covered by the collar. So we followed this guidance.
For the wings (the second picture), the examples showed that the design was just cut in the same orientation as the front of the jacket, and the pattern was right side up when viewed from the front. For the cuffs (the two shapes on the right in the first photo), we had a great picture of a cuff laid out before the MET jacket was mounted years ago. It showed that a modification had been made to the design to put a carnation at the center middle, pointing to the free end of the cuff. Then two coils emanated from the bottom of the carnation, each holding a different motif – but mirrored. We tried to follow this lead the first time we drafted the pattern, but the cuffs for the Laton jacket are not as deep as those on the MET jacket, therefore this scheme didn’t work out. Instead, we put a pink motif in the center and cut the design with the edge of the pattern.
(The third picture is two of the five gussets.)
For the gussets, we followed the V&A jacket and used the area of the design that has thistles on it for each of the five gussets.