Sunday, November 7, 2010

The W.H. Wyman 18th C Lawn Shirt

Pinned to this label were 3 children's garments, (you can see the pinholes in the paper), a linen shirt, a lawn shirt and a knitted shirt . The label is hand-drawn and the coloured letters painted by hand. It dates the 3 garments to 1702.

This is the lawn shirt, and it is 41cm from one sleeve end to the other, and 23cm long. It is for a younger child than the linen shirt I have previously blogged about, which measured 49 x 33cm. The lawn fabric is also softer than the linen, with a smooth hand almost like satin. It is a delicate, finely woven plain weave cotton. The shirt would fit a 6 month to one year old child.

The shoulder has a strip of insertion lace, edged with edging lace on each side. The insertion lace is so fine I cannot see how it is made. I was about to take some macro photos so that I could get a closer look at it, and my battery went flat. Damn that battery.

This is the best image I could get, I will have to blog about the lace in another post. This shirt is finer than anything I have ever seen, the skill of the woman who worked it, and the fineness of the tools she must have used, surpasses anything I have encountered in the heritage collections I have worked with. It is a treasure of great importance.

The shirt is completely hand-sewn and is so finely done, it is difficult to make out the individual stitches without the aid of a magnifying glass. The stitches running around the edge of the neckline are less than 1 mm long. I am not sure at this stage, but the lace around the neck edge appears to be hand made bobbin lace.

I love this little gusset under the sleeve, this shirt is made with similar techniques to an 18th century countryman's smock.

This image shows the seams, and hems of the sleeve. The photo does not do this shirt justice as their is no scale rule to show how tiny these stitches are. I will have to do another post with better photos, so enjoy what I have posted and look forward to more to come


  1. I'm confused... Do you mean to say all that detail in the 5th image is 1mm long?!

  2. No the stitches around the neckline, the little topstitching stitches you can see are 1mm long.

  3. OOoh! More pictures please!

    What an amazing, amazing garment to get to work with. The techniques look period to the 18th century, but its really hard to date undergarments between 1650 and 1790 as they did the same thing for a century and a half, and children's clothes are especially hard - the same sort of stuff was done until the 1850s.

  4. Oh wow! I can't stop reading and just keep staring at the pictures and feel like indeed getting out a magnifying glass.

  5. Its amazing what a photograph can help you to see. Thanks for your encouragement.

  6. Good one, thank you.
    Regards, Keith.

  7. I have just discovered your lovely bog. The underarm gusset is very interesting to me: the French were still using that well into the 20th century on their peasant's linen shirts, and into the 1950s/60s on nightshrts.

  8. The insertion lace looks like Filet Crochet. Very fine, very nice.