A child's shirt
Firstly I would like to apologise for this photo. It has no scale or visual reference to its size. So let me explain, this shirt would have been for a very small child, perhaps the size of a one or two year old today. It is 33cm from the top of the shoulder to the bottom of the hem, and 49 cm form one end of the sleeve to the other. When I first received this shirt, from the descendant of Mrs. W.H. Wyman, it was sewn together with 2 other garments, to a paper label which read: "Hand-made lawn shirts, and knitted shirt - 1702. Exhibited by Mrs. W.H. Wyman. Olvondale or Orondale S.." I could not quite make out the spelling, does any of the family know which it is? Unfortunately the label does not state when or where the items were exhibited, but the family may know when Mrs. Wyman lived at Olvondale.
The shirt had been stored for many years sewn to the label, and has some heavy creases in it, and this would be the first time for many a time, that it would have been seen lying flat like this.
The label states that the two shirts are lawn, but I have my doubts about that. The fabric this shirt is made from has a rough hand, that feels more like linen than cotton. It may be a very worn, fine linen, that has the weight of a cotton lawn.
The shirt is very finely sewn, completely by hand. The shirt pattern pieces are rectangles, cut like an English countryman's smock, or a Japanese kimono, from a length of fabric without any waste. This was a time when fabric was valuable, and often still woven on hand looms.
Both sleeves are delicately pleated, with the pleats sewn in place on both the armhole and the narrow cuff. I want to make a shirt for myself with sleeves like this, I think it would be wonderful. The cuff has two buttonholes, rather than a button and buttonhole. Do any of my academic darlings know how this cuff would have been fastened?
The shirt is skillfully made, there are no raw edges, all the seams are finished beautifully. The collar is a single layer of fabric, illustrating to us again, that his shirt was made in a time when fabric was extremely valuable and expensive.
Did you notice the leaf green top stitching around the neckline and cuffs? At first I thought it was a simple row of running stitches. However as I looked more closely, I saw it was a couched thread. This garment is sewn differently to anything I have seen before, it is an absolute delight, and I think it is possible that it could be dated to the early 1700's.