Saturday, 12 January 2019

Striped Gloves

A Study in Regrettable Material Choice

Here they are, my last project of 2018. Sometime in the year I saw this picture on pinterest and was utterly delighted by the idea of striped gloves.
Pair of man's gloves. French, Printed leather, late 18th century.
Then I noticed two 18th century fashion plates that also had striped gloves.
Journal de la mode et du goût, 15th November 1790.
Both pairs of fashion plate gloves are green & black, but one has an alternately coloured version that appears to be striped in buff & black. (It's hard to tell with such tiny hands, it could possibly be orange or brown?)
Journal de la mode et du goût, 25th October 1790.

 I then decided to make striped gloves for the "Hands and Feet" HSM challenge for September 2018. I made my pattern and did a paint sample but then just didn't make the gloves for some reason.
Since December's theme was "Neglected Challenge" I did the gloves for that challenge instead.

Both of the fashion plate pairs have stripes running across the width of the hand, and the extant gloves have them lengthwise. I decided to make mine lengthwise in black and green. I also considered adding a medallion with a little picture to the back of the hand, like on the extant pair, but decided to save that for a future pair of gloves. I'd do an 18th century dragon on mine instead of a couple of people.
I had a few single leather gloves that I've found on the ground over the years, so I cut one up to get the basic size of my pattern. I cut the fingertips off and taped them further up to get the right length, but other than that the glove mostly fit me.

I traced all the bits, but they were very wonky so I had to straighten them out a lot. They also aren't shaped like 18th century glove pattern pieces, so I changed some things to make them look more like the glove patterns from Diderot's Encyclopédie. Those patterns are from the 1760's, but as far as I can tell the cut of gloves stayed pretty much the same for a very very long time, so they are just fine for 1790.

I did two mockups in leather from an old coat, but I think I still need to adjust the pattern a bit. I tapered the fingertips just a bit too much. I also need to tweak the shape of the thumb slightly.
My final pattern.
And here is where the regrettable material choice comes in! Oh what a fool I was! I should have ordered leather paint, but I did not.
I used my fabric printing ink, and leather is NOT the same as fabric.
I did a couple of samples and discovered that even though it was heat set the ink wore off very easily, but I was somehow not put off by this. I grabbed a bottle of water based varnish off my shelf and painted it over my sample, and it looked okay. I agitated the sample a bit, and ran water over it, and it seemed to hold?
Satisfied with my terrible choice of materials, I foolishly pressed on.
My sample, including a dinosaur to practice for the dragons I didn't add.
I traced my glove pattern out on the back portion of an old leather jacket. I masked the stripes with the narrowest tape I could find in the craft store. (Which happened to be 3mm washi tape that came in packs with several other wider rolls of tape, so I'm going to have to start putting fancy tape in my sketchbooks.)
With all my tape laid down, I painted the green ink over all the pattern areas.
I peeled off the tape, let the ink dry, and heat set it. I put a couple coats of the varnish on.
I cut the pieces out and sewed them all together with a whipstitch, which is left on the outside of the gloves.

Can't pin leather because it leaves permanent holes, so I used paperclips where necessary.
They sewed up pretty quickly, and I thought they looked pretty good, though the varnish made them much too shiny for historical gloves.
When I tried them on I found them stiff and a bit too tight, especially in the fingers. I had cut out my mockup with a couple millimeters of seam allowance, but cut out my gloves with a bit less, and millimeters make a huge difference with gloves.
I figured they'd be fine if I just stretched them out a bit, so I sprayed a tiny bit of water on the inside and wore them for a bit.
They stretched out very well, but the stretching caused the varnish to flake and peel off in a few places. It doesn't really show up in these photos, but there are now quite a few sections where the black stripes look more grey because the varnish has lifted up but not come off entirely. The coat leather is also not as strong as I expected, I've only worn these a few times and there's a bit of splitting happening between two of the fingers, and a small tear happened on the left glove when I pulled it on for these photos.
You can see the tear in the cuff of the glove I'm holding.
So they're pretty bad in terms of materials, and they definitely won't wear well, but at least they look good for a first pair.

What the item is: A pair of man's gloves
What passed challenge are you recreating: September: Hands and Feet
Material: black leather from an old jacket
Pattern: my own, based on the Diderot ones
Year: c. 1790
Notions: Linen thread, fabric ink
How historically accurate is it? Ehh, maybe 60%? The pattern and construction are fine, but the materials were Bad. And they never would have printed green stripes on black leather, it makes so much more sense to print the darker colour on top of the lighter one. (except the linen thread, it's fine)
Hours to complete: 13, not including patterning
First worn: January 1st 2019, but at 2 am so it's only a wee bit late!
Total cost: The only thing I bought was the tape, and I forget how much it was. Not very many dollars. The jacket I got from a clothing swap, and the ink and thread I already had.

Overall I guess... they're not.... too terrible? They're not suited to lots of wear but they'd be fine to use occasionally for photos. And in any case, they were a learning experience.

I want to make more gloves! I have ordered some fine goat skin, but before I cut into that I will make a second pair with suede from an old skirt I have. And from now on I will only paint on leather with products specifically made for leather.
I definitely made the thumb hole too big. Will fix that next time!
There, 2018 projects all blogged! Now I can do my year-in-review post.


  1. The gloves are impressive for your first pair. Wow, Well done.
    Hugs, Mamoo

  2. Oh? Blog posts? I guess I’ll have to ‘like’ you here too. Have you tried chamois? It should be readily available and has lots of ‘give’. Easier to do tests on, I would think Live these. And love the challenge options *winks*

    1. Pft autocorrect ‘I would think. Love these’ also, can you buy ready striped leather??

    2. I haven't tried chamois, but I think my goat skin will make nice gloves when it arrives. I will do one more practice pair with a suede skirt though!

      I have no idea if striped leather is available to buy. It probably is somewhere but a pair of gloves doesn't take a lot so I'm fine with painting it myself. I did find a website that does custom leather printing, but with the shipping to Canada it would be very expensive.

    3. Yeah, Australia, here - pretty much the same problem. Good luck with the new leather

  3. Oh man, now I have an urge to make gloves! I already have goatskin and dye, so all I need is to make a pattern. Hope your next pair turns out better!