Monday, May 30, 2011


I know Brown technically isn't part of the "rainbow" of colors (neither is pink), but it's variety of tones were still quite popular in the 18th century.  It also seems a very practical color.  I have a chocolate brown wool gown, and it never shows dust or dirt.  I wore it all winter and it doesn't look dirty (trust me, it is).  And while it may not be exciting, it is flattering.  Again, definitions from Elephant's Breath & London Smoke.

Brown: fun-burnt, of a colour which may be made of a mixture of black with any other colour. Royal English Dictionary, 1775.
Chocolate: Mitella; ...commonly call'd Anotto or Arnotta in America. ... The Seeds of this Plant are ufed for dying a Chocolate Colour. Gardiners Dictionary, 1735.
Chesnut: Chesnut Brown is a deep reddish brown and yellowish brown. Werner's Nomenclature of Colours, 1814.
Cinnamon & Musk: Red and Brown. Dictionarium Polygraphicum, 1735.
Coffee: To give a browning, ftuff which has been juft dyed, is dipped in a folution of fulphat of iron. Elements of the Art of Dyeing, 1791.
Nut Brown: Nutbrown, brown as, or of the colour of a nut kept long. Royal English Dictionary, 1775.
Russet: of a reddifh brown; ufed by Sir Isaac Newton for grey. Coarfe, ruftic, or homefpun. Royal English Dictionary, 1775.
Snuff: a yellow-brown, the color of snuff. Primary Object Lessons, 1871.
Tawny: that is of a tanned, yellowifh, or dusky Colour. Dictionarium Anglo-Britannicum, 1708.
Umber: Umber Brown. Is a light Brown, a mixture of Yellowifh Brown and Grey. Philosophy of Mineralogy, 1798.

A note that while the first reference in the book to Coffee or Cafe au Lait is 1791, there were coffee shops even in the Colonies by the 1750s (broke ground in Wmsburg in 1747 for one).

MFA Cotton Round Gown, late 18th c.

Met Stays, 1780

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Weekly 4/22-28

This week I've started to contemplate what topic of research to post about next.  I though about men's wear and 1800-20 overview of garments.  However, after a few questions about when garments were dated, I though that I might encompass both and expand to doing a large overview of women's and then men's garments from 1760-1820 by five year sections.  It's a big undertaking, but I've wanted to do it for a while. I'm going to stick to fashionable garments, but not to the point of court gowns (those have a tendency to not keep up).  I still have one more color post before this begins, but I would love feedback on it (now would be good, but mainly after the first post so I know if I need to adjust).

On facebook Alexa asked about the back of this jacket from CWF.  Judging from the description it seems to imply that the peplum skirt is separate, similar to a quarter-back gown, rather than extending from the back.  CWF also has another jacket of similar style, which has a back of that type.  I got to see that particular jacket a few years ago, but unfortunately don't have pictures of it (and it's a bit fuzzy on the details now).

I also came across a small bag from the early 19th century, similar to the inked bag that I made through the Burnley & Trowbridge workshop.  It's a little fancier, being painted in color, but is still of home-made quality.  These little bags were probably gifts of friendship, simple to make and a practice of skills.

Finally, I asked what people thought of the construction techniques used in the image below.  Mostly, to do with how the petticoat ruffle was finished and attached (pleats, ruffles, etc).  If you have any ideas on how the rest of the trim is done, that would be good to hear too.  I'm sure the rest is gathered, but I'm having a hard time picturing how the turn occurs at the end of the neckline.  It seems to be two separate pieces, but how to make that not ugly might be a challenge!

Not surprisingly, the complaint about roll-hemming over 1000" of trim does have to do with this image.  So, here's how trimming the petticoat is going.  Not exactly like the portrait, but I wanted to follow the stripe of the cotton.  This puts them a little broader, and the cotton is much less stiff than her taffeta.

Friday, May 27, 2011


Purple was a little bit elusive.  Although, as very obvious by the CWF gown below, it can easily fade to a light pink.  I do really wish we could have seen the constructed gown that goes with the Met petticoat fabric as well, that looks breathtaking.  Notice the terms below, there is a distinct running theme of flowers.  As always, definitions from Elephant's Breath & London Smoke.

Purple: red, tinctured with blue. Royal English Dictionary, 1775.
Violet: Violet is made indifferently with red and black, or red and blue; and to render it more splendid, with red, white and blue. Painter and Varnisher's Guide, 1804.
Lilac: Lilacs, pigeons necks, mauves, &c. are commonly dipped in the boiling which has ferved for violet. Elements of the Art of Dyeing, 1791.
Lavender: Lavender Purple, the lavender blue of Werner, is composed of blue, red, and a little brown and grey. Werner's Nomenclature of Colours, 1814.
Amaranth: Blue and half red cimfon compofe amaranth, tan colour, dry-rofe, a brown panfy and fur-brown. Dictionarium Polygraphicum, 1735.
Columbine: in Dying, a pale violet, or changeable dove-colour. Royal English Dictionary, 1775.
Pansy: Pansy purple, is indigo blue with carmine red, and a slight tinge of raven black. Werner's Nomenclature of Colours, 1814.
Plum: a bright violet or plum colour. Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1801.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Blue was a fairly simple color to find, although many seem to be in the same dusty tone range.  It seems like it could be a fading issue, although some of them have a great deal of gold which looks in good condition.  Again, definitions from Elephant's Breath & London Smoke.

Blue: among dyers for one of the five fimple or mother colours, of which they form others. Royal English Dictionary, 1775.
Indigo: Indigo Blue. Is a dark blackifh Blue. Philosophy of Mineralogy, 1798.
Sky:  Sky-colour. Blue; azure; like the fky. Dictionary of English Language, 1792.
Azure: Is a bright Blue with fcarce a tint of Red. Philosophy of Mineralogy, 1798.
Cerulean: Blue, fky-coloured. Complete Dictionary of the English Language, 1797.
China Blue: is azure blue with a little Prussian blue in it. Werner's Nomenclature of Colours, 1814.
Prussian: is a deep colour, and brighter than indigo. Transactions of the Society, 1825.
Royal Blue: For the Turkey blue, which is the deepeft, a very ftrong archil bath is firft given; and for the royal blue, one of the fame kind, but weaker. Encyclopaedia Perthensis, 1816.
Sapphire: a precious Stone of a blew Colour with golden Sparkles. Dictionarium Anglo-Britannicum, 1708.
Ultramarine: among Painters, the fineft fort of blue colour. Royal English Dictionary, 1775.

Met Silk Stays, Late 18th

MFA Silk Gown, 1745-55

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Expanding 2

Thank you for the wonderful feedback on the last post, it's not only helped me to understand what you want but what I need as well.  What's going to happen is that I'm going to set up a facebook account.  It will connected through twitter for those that prefer that feed (it said all posts, etc would show up like tweets.  We'll see).  What is going to be on this page though?
Well, whenever I put up a post on here, I'll note it there.  I'm hoping there will be more discussion/suggestions/questions put forward about the posts that way.
I'm also going to put quick finds/links up there, but I'll sum all of those up once a week on the blog.
It will also be where I do "fishing" to find out what you'll be interested in seeing next (the polls don't usually work well, and limit options)
And it gives people the opportunity to ask off-topic questions that could potentially lead to posts (ex. I was asked about english vs. quarter backs on deviantart today, which seems like a good post).

I have the facebook page in existence, but there's not much content yet.  I'll add the "like" button to the blog shortly.  Feel free to look me up there, or as MantuaDiary on twitter.  We'll see how this goes and I'll give an update on here in a couple of weeks as to what worked and what didn't.  It's an ongoing test, so please feel free to voice concerns or give ideas!

Monday, May 23, 2011


I've been trying to figure out an easier way for things like quick Q&A and my everyday finds to be posted. I want to keep a steady stream of larger posts on here, but would like to keep from cluttering up the blog with multiple posts every day.  And doing Q&A in the comments isn't very effective, since most people probably don't seek those out.  I posted a poll about this yesterday, but after only getting one response I figured I should explain what I meant a little better.  So, the poll is back up now.  Please PLEASE vote.  There were 32 people that looked at the total, but only one vote!
I'm looking at Twitter, Facebook, and Formspring.  If there's anything that might serve the purpose better, feel free to suggest it.  While a forum would be nice, there's already a number of those around and they aren't terribly active.
And just a hint to the sort of day-to-day thing I'd like to put up, I'm in the process of making a Polonaise Jacket from cotton dimity.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Bonnets 2

I've come across twenty other images of bonnets recently, of three different styles.  There's the pouf top, the poke bonnet I posted about recently, and a conical shape.  I found evidence that the cone shape was in Salzburg, Austria in 1731, so I'm trying to find "missing links" backwards and forwards as it were.  There's also this image of a Salzburg refugee with the poke bonnet style.

May Day, 1780