In considering a new outfit, the modern Mrs. Winthrop realizes that like her sister chick-lets she would love to begin with new undergarments…especially a very fine linen shift.
Of more immediate need, though, was the completion of a pair of pockets - Mrs. Winthrop has made do with a single pocket for far too long.
A bit of research reveals that most eighteenth-century pockets are lavishly embroidered:
Met 1979.346.107, linen pockets, America
Unfortunately, the modern Mrs. Winthrop needs a simple pair, and she finds very, very few, late in the century, which are simple linen:
CW 1964-411, white [cotton/linen] dimity, New York, c. 1785-1810
Met C.I.40.159.4, striped linen pocket, America, 1789
MFA 99.664.22, women’s cotton pocket, Lexington, MA, late 18th to early 19th century
The modern Mrs. Winthrop also wondered if perhaps a block print cotton could be used in place of embroidery. The pocket below seems more utilitarian, although the small print seems early 19th c than late 18th:
PVMA 1915.18.05, cotton calico, America, second half of the 18th century
Finally, voilà – in the MFA, Boston:
MFA 98.1802a, block print cotton pocket “English, used in America, last quarter of the 18th c.”
Coincidentally, Mrs. Winthrop had some block printed cotton scraps of just the right size. After making some adjustments to the pattern, four pocket shapes of the Indian print and two pocket shapes of stiff linen, (which she ordinarily uses for gown lining) were cut.
One each of the cotton print and of the linen were stitched together along the hand slit, right sides together, then turned and pressed. On each one, the wrong side of the back block print cotton print was stitched to the wrong side of the front, (now two ply) linen/cotton piece, then turned and with right sides together, stitched again to make a fully enclosed felled seam (Mrs. Winthrop hates pulling items out of her pocket along with a handful of unraveled fibers!)
Each pocket was turned and pressed. Mrs. Winthrop is constantly bedeviled by her single pocket inching forward during the day from the rear side of her waist to the front - so she measured the distance that she would prefer the pockets to lay, marked on the 3/4" cotton tape to be doubled over the tops of the pockets and stitched the top of each pocket to the waist tie.
But...Mrs. Winthrop was once again bedeviled by fabric (or in this case cotton tape) which stretches as it is worn...although the pockets seemed to be in the correct location when she dressed, (see photo) at the end of the day, both pockets had crept along to the front!
Fortunately, Mrs. Winthrop does not give up quite so easily...she plans to remove the pockets from the flexible cotton tape at the waist and use a linen tape in its place.
Take that, cotton!
Mrs. Winthrop Awakes
The portrait of Mrs. Winthrop by John Singleton Copley was recently analyzed in our sister blog on July 31, 2011. I found myself reading and rereading Hallie's post - as she mentioned, the painter has truly captured Mrs. Winthrop's poise and confidence as a women of means at age 46.
Her silk gown is gorgeous - yet a little understated - I cannot wait to pin down the exact color - in my online search the blue has ranged from deep true blue to greyish blue. Her gauze cap and ribbons, and lace-trimmed handkerchief and sleeve ruffles will require time to replicate, but I believe that I can come close.
The most difficult aspect of Mrs. Winthrop, I believe, will be her calm, secure, *dignified* bearing. She is the daughter of an excellent family, and is the second wife of a member of one of Massachusetts Bay Founding Families. I am intrigued to learn more about her...