Thursday, April 21, 2011


Very useful, elegant, simple to make, and worn by every class.  Mitts can be worn for warmth, to keep off the hot sun, for decoration, or protection.  I wear mine year round when working.  During the summer it helps to keep off mosquitos and keeps my hands clean from the sooty lantern.
Their construction is just a simple, slightly shaped tube with an open thumb attached.  Some cut straight across the knuckles while others have a small point on top, often out of a contrasting fabric which could be folded back.  Many had small amounts of embroidery, most commonly three small lines following the tendons along the back of the hand.  Women old and young, rich and poor wore them.  Since most gowns and jackets had sleeves which ended at the elbow, mitts or gloves covered the rest of the arm.  Since mitts allow use of your fingers they make for a very practical option indoors or out.
I've come across silk taffeta, silk satin, linen, cotton, leather, lace, and knitted examples.

Mrs. Robert Hooper by John Singleton Copley, 1767 

Mrs. James Russell by James Singleton Copley, 1770 

The Lady with the Veil by Alexander Roslin, 1768 

 French Beggar Woman by Paul Sandby, 1770

A Harlot's Progress by Wm Hogarth, 1732

 Sophia Dumergue by Johann Zoffany, 1780

Miss Tipapin going for all Nine by John Collet, 1778

Extant Mitts
Red Satin with small embroidery
Yellow Taffeta with small embroidery
Grey Satin with small embroidery, Straight cut
Linen, Straight cut
Linen with small embroidery
Cotton, Straight cut
2 Taffeta and 2 Leather
Two-tone Taffeta with small embroidery
Cream Silk with small embroidery
Black knitted with fringe (like Mrs. Robert Hoopers portrait above)
Brown Leather with embroidery
Short Brown Leather with floral turn-back


Clara said...

Is there a reason why you would wear only one? In the last painting, she has a cat on that arm, but in the first one, it doesn't seem to have a reason....

ColeV said...

I think it was just artistic purposes. The second mitt is visible when not worn. Men wearing gloves do the same thing in many portraits. Some sort of half-casual look, just a little jaunty. It'd be an interesting study to see if it was more the artists preference of painting an unworn mitt/glove or perhaps it meant something more!

LadyLibrarienne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Annabelle said...

Dear me. That deleted comment was mine as I signed in under the wrong journaling account...

I am so, so happy you chose to do a mitt study at this time. They are probably one of the next things on my to-sew list! You wouldn't have any intention of possibly doing cloaks at some point would you?

Clara said...

Ah. Those artsy people....

Hana - Marmota said...

It fascinates me how all the woven ones are apparently bias-cut, making use ot its relative stretchiness.