Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Blue & Purple Mitts

I finished my mitts!
The colours are washed out in this picture. The purple is actually much darker.
I started these mitts for the outerwear challenge. I know they aren't super warm and snuggly, but they are good for chilly weather, so I think they still qualify. Anyhow, I didn't finish them in time. I packed them away in a drawer after that because I really, really didn't want to work on them. But now they are done.

I drew a pattern based on some arm measurements, and after a couple of mockups it looked pretty good.
The final mockup. It might have been the second or third, I don't remember.
The pattern, after the thumb alteration mentioned below.
Since a lot of 18th century mitts have bright, contrasting colours, I used dark purple silk for the outside, and bright blue for the lining and decorative stitching.
This is what the colours actually look like.
The lighter blue fabric at the top is the linen I used for the lining, the purple is the outside fabric, and the blue fabric on the left is the silk I lined the triangle flaps with. The thread is one of the few spools of silk thread I have (Well, technically it's Mama's, but she never sews).

I guessed at the proper construction as well as I could based on close-ups from the numerous extant examples. All the pieces are cut on the bias.
I used a backstitch to sew the triangle of silk to the lining on one side.
Then ironed it forward and secured the other two sides with a running stitch.
Since flat lining worked so well with my jacket sleeves, I did the same with these mitts. I left the wide ends open so that I could hem them later.
The two layers sewn together with a running stitch.
I lined the thumb that way as well.
I also waxed every single bit of thread I used, which is something I usually forget  to do. I got a new beeswax cake and it's much better than the old one, which I suspect wasn't entirely beeswax.
Old wax on the left, new wax on the right. You can see part of the thumb at the bottom of this picture.
I tucked the seam allowances in on the end of the thumb and whip stitched them.
The thumb edge being finished.

 I drew three lines on the backs of the hands, then whip-stitched along them to make little ridges, just like this pair from the Met.
Little ridges. The stitching catches the lining too, so they stand up quite well.
I whip stitched the sides of the thumbs together.
Then whip stitched the outside fabric of the thumb to the outside fabric of the mitt, being careful not to snag the lining.
The line of chalk marks where the thumb seam lines up.
I did the same to the lining.
All the the seam allowances being tucked neatly away.
The thumb sat very smoothly on the mitt.
Using the bright blue thread, I went around those three little ridges with a herringbone stitch.
Chalk lines kept the stitches from varying too much in width.
I love the way the blue looks against the purple.
I whip stitched the main body of the mitt closed in the same manner as the thumb. I then tried it on and discovered a small problem with the fit. The thumb did not have an adequate range of motion. I picked out the seam on the top side of the thumb attachment.
It needed this much extra room.
The trouble was that the corners of the thumb piece curved up too much towards the thumb seam. It was fine in the mockup, so I think the corners may have been blunted by the flat lining.
I inserted a tiny scrap of fabric, both on the outside and on the lining, to correct the fit. I added this change to the pattern.
Extra piece of fabric, whipstitched in.
For the wide end of the gloves, I trimmed back the lining a bit, to reduce bulk, went along the very edge with a running stitch to keep it from shifting, and, after the rest of the mitt was finished, turned it twice and hemmed it with a whipstitch. I forgot to take a picture of this.
The lining after being trimmed. That way, when I folded it over twice, the hem only had two thicknesses of linen in it.
After adding more herringbone stitches to the thumb and hand opening they were finished!
Dear me, I wonder why the right one looks shorter than the left. They measure exactly the same length.
This style of mitt can be worn with the flap folded back too, to show off the contrasting lining, but the flap on my right glove doesn't want to fold back all the way. Probably because the linen is so thick and soft.
I think I may have made a mistake in choosing the blue linen just because it was blue. A thinner, stiffer linen would have worked better, even though my linens of that description are brown. The blue stuff stretches and wrinkles more than it should.
I keep meaning to post the Historical Sew Fortnightly button on my blog, but keep forgetting, so here it is.
These mitts qualify for several previous challenges:

# 2- UFO

# 4- Embellish

# 7- Accessorize

# 16- Separates

# 20- Outerwear 

The Challenge: # 24: Re-do
Fabric: Dark purple silk that was labeled as dupioni but is really more like taffeta with a few little slubs, thick light blue linen, bright blue silk that is similar in texture to the purple, but slightly thinner.
Pattern: Drafted by me.
Year: I'm not exactly sure, 1750's to 90's maybe.
Notions: Blue silk thread, purple cotton thread.
How historically accurate is it? Pretty good. The materials aren't perfectly accurate, but the look is very close, and the construction and pattern are accurate to the best of my knowledge.
Hours to complete: 22 hours, 17 minutes
First worn: November 24th, 2013
Total cost: I don't remember how much I paid for the metre of purple silk, but it was years ago and I had no plan for it, so I think it counts as $0.


  1. Great sewing skills to even the tiniest details. I love the colors.

  2. Would you ever consider throwing that pattern online somehow? I'd pay ya. :)

    1. I did post a photo of the pattern. Do you mean on a grid? I have been planning to scale some of my patterns down and put them on grids so that they can be printed off and scaled up, like the ones in Patterns Of Fashion, but I have been busy with many other things. I'll see if I can find time to do that this Christmas break.

  3. Excellent! Thank you for the detailed description of the construction, too.

  4. Very pretty. Adding the extra piece at the base of the thumb must have been terribly fiddly to do, but it looks so neat.

    1. Thank you. It was quite fiddly. I briefly considered making new thumbs, but attaching them would have been much more work.

  5. Awesome! Thanks for sharing so much detail too. I shall be Pinteresting this