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18th century "hot kit"

Posted: Thu Jun 08, 2006 3:23 pm
by Tod
This is one for you experts out their. all of my outter wear is wool and linen lined (frock coats, short coats, waistcoats etc). Is their any evidnce of lighter materail being used, for example linen inside and out. I know that in one of my books there is some really nice embroidered examples and I think they are linen (?). But what about the more common sort of clothing worn outside.

I've got an event this w/e where I've got to wear the full gear and its going to be b####y hot, and I just wondered what I could get made for future events.

Posted: Thu Jun 08, 2006 3:26 pm
by John Waller
Yoy could wear one of those jock skirt things for better ventilation!

Posted: Thu Jun 08, 2006 4:07 pm
by Shadowcat
Your waistcoat could be linen, and I know there are coats in America made of linen in this period, but I don't know of English ones - that's not to say there aren't any, just I have not seen them. I'll recheck my sources.


Posted: Thu Jun 08, 2006 4:32 pm
by Tod
John,a damned great plaid is even hotter than my frock coat. :roll:

SC some how I knew that you'd know. :D
Perhaps it was never hot in the mid 18th century.

Posted: Fri Jun 09, 2006 12:24 am
by Tuppence
As SC says, there's evidence (tons, actually) for linen waistcoats.

Am sure there's something for linen coats - am sure I've seen it somewhere. Will check my sources too.
Though if a library book, I may not have noted where it was, if it was while I was working on something else.

That said, even if we can't find any evidence for linens, there were some very thin, and fine wools around.

Posted: Fri Jun 09, 2006 9:51 am
by Tod
Linen waistecoat is a goer as I've got some nice red, brown and blue linen. Most of the wool I have is melton which is looverleeey, now I'll have to look for some fine stuff, does it have a particular name? (Linen still seems like a better idea - if correct).

Posted: Fri Jun 09, 2006 11:41 am
by Sophia
Very fine woolen worsted is probably what you are after. I got some fab stuff from Cloth Hall (Lindy Pickard) which I am using to make Petitcoats (sometimes known as pourpoints) for Peter C-H for the summer.


Posted: Fri Jun 09, 2006 2:03 pm
by steve stanley
Surely,A Gentleman wouldn't be out in the Sun anyway?..He has people to do that for him...looking at the Chappies in Williamsburg(where it was ..warm..),while a full linen suit was OK for "casual" wear,the coat would remain a (lightweight) wool for more formal occasions..fits in with military practice where linen waistcoat/breeches were used in hot climates.

Posted: Fri Jun 09, 2006 3:16 pm
by frances
I've seen pics of velvet,and have seen the sumptuous silk brocades, decorated with sequin thingys and silk embroidery. All very nice and very expensive and probably only worn by the very few who went to Court.

Posted: Fri Jun 09, 2006 6:25 pm
by Drachelis
t -ry suiting fabric - some aqre very fine - look for it on ebay - an ebay shop called British Fabrics - he does the most wonderful stuff 100% wool I have used him a few times now for fine woolen cloth for doublets when they are to be worn under a gown - service is impeccable - next day delivery - obviously hey come in suiting colours and you need to look at the bigger picture or shadow stripes and checks.

Shadowlight Designs

Posted: Sat Jun 10, 2006 8:35 am
by Mark P.
A linen frock might be suitable for the meaner sort, servants, artisans and the like, but surely silk for a Gentleman?


Posted: Mon Jun 12, 2006 9:29 am
by Tod
Silk does sound good, but then I only do really posh once in a blue moon.
I would have thought that modern suiting fabric is completly wrong for the 18th century - yes/no?

Still looking for linen evidence........................although I tend to agree with Mark.

Posted: Mon Jun 12, 2006 10:42 am
by Drachelis
I would have thought that modern suiting fabric is completly wrong for the 18th century - yes/no?
There were some very fine wools around for those who could afford it- and plain weave and twills were around long before. There was also mechanisation which would have been able to produce the fine yarn (fantastic series of programmes on Discovery or something Industrial Rvelations which actually showed mechanisation for silk production in the 13th century).

Those who have done more research may be able to inform you better but there were far more varieties than melton.

Shadowlight Designs

Posted: Mon Jun 12, 2006 12:00 pm
by Tuppence
I would have thought that modern suiting fabric is completly wrong for the 18th century - yes/no?
Unless you're either incredibly lucky, or willing to pay a small fortune, you're pretty much bang on with that.
I'd avoid buying on ebay, as you can't really tell from a photo, no matter how good the description.

Got to say, Hainsworth do some fabulous lighter wools, not just the meltons and overcoatings. (I get to make a gown in some soon - hooray :D .)
There were some very fine wools around for those who could afford it- and plain weave and twills were around long before.
but there were far more varieties than melton.
There were undoubtedly other weaves around - plain weaves have been around for several millenia (it was the first woven cloth, after all), and twill weaves since at least the Egyptian new kingdom.

melton in actual fact has quite a short history - first being used as a hunting cloth (although it can be made as a twill, just to confuse matters).
There was also mechanisation which would have been able to produce the fine yarn (fantastic series of programmes on Discovery or something Industrial Rvelations which actually showed mechanisation for silk production in the 13th century).

From what I remember (and I am going back a few years here), the mechanisation was specific to the silk industry in Italy (Florence / Genoa / Venice - I think). It also wasn't mechanisation in the terms we'd know it today.
I don't think it was used for wool, and certainly not in England, which as we all know was the centre of wool production.
Which is not to say that the machine woven silk wasn't known in Britain, but British silk wasn't terribly good historically - one of the reasons why all those 17th century suits have so much braid on them - it's holding the weak silk together!


Posted: Mon Jun 12, 2006 1:39 pm
by Drachelis
I would agree with Tuppence that it is very risky buying on ebay - I took a risk with this seller the first time And it paid off - exactly what my client had requested - since then I have taken another couple of risks with them with different styles of fabric - worsted and coating fabric and have found that they too have been spot on.

I would also agree that the early silk mechanisation was abroad and that it wasn't used for wool and not used in UK.

The Welsh National wool museum is very near me and I plan to go when time is availabe they apparently also sell some of their wools.

Shadowlight Designs

Posted: Mon Jun 12, 2006 1:45 pm
by steve stanley
Think I've got the answer,Tod...You're just back from service with Clive in India,and,being slightly eccentric,wear your off-duty native kit!!..well,it was an idea....

Posted: Mon Jun 12, 2006 2:28 pm
by Tod
Steve, only a couple of problems, one - skin tone is a bit blue. Two Nick would want to copy me and frankly............................

Posted: Tue Jun 13, 2006 12:35 pm
by Mark P.
For service in hotter regions redcoats can be issued with a leather bladder which can be filled with cold water and worn under the hat.
You know you want one.


Posted: Tue Jun 13, 2006 2:17 pm
by Tod
I don't want one, but I could make one.
Leather bladder, loin clth - nice look. Glad I'm a Jacobite.

Posted: Thu Jun 15, 2006 2:54 am
by mary la reine
Tod, do you remember your trip to colchester to buy my gun - mnay years ago? If you can remember the way back there is a wondeful fabric shop here that does lighter weight wool. Directions can be sent if you need. I seem to remember that you live close

Posted: Thu Jun 15, 2006 7:57 am
by Tod
Mary, I remember hanging around a street corner, outside a gun shop waiting to do an arms deal :lol:
Are you thinking of the Remnant Shop? I haven't been there for ages and have had some really nice stuff form them.
Oh and I live in Bletchley.

Posted: Sun Jun 18, 2006 7:13 pm
by Shadowcat

Sorry for delay in replying, but my computer died for 10 days - that'll teach me to install my own software!

I found a cotton, repeat cotton, suit in the U.S. probably Williamsburg. Am visiting there in a couple of weeks and will find out what I can.


Posted: Mon Jun 19, 2006 2:47 am
by Karen Larsdatter
Shadowcat -- do you have a copy of Linda Baumgarten's What Clothes Reveal? There's some cotton breeches (p. 124; caption mentions that "cotton was increasingly available in a variety of weights for men's suits and breeches"); there's a printed cotton-velvet men's suit (c. 1780) on pp. 98-99 and 183. All of these garments are in the Colonial Williamsburg Collection.

Posted: Mon Jun 19, 2006 7:31 am
by Shadowcat
Yes, I do - just didn't have time to spend looking through it - the suit I found a picture of is probably one of those you mention, but is in a small leaflet/booklet type thing. (I also have "Fitting and Proper" and "Costume Close-up", which I have checked, but not very carefully!


Have pm'd you.

Posted: Mon Jun 19, 2006 1:07 pm
by Karen Larsdatter
The printed cotton velvet suit is actually on the far right-hand side of the cover photo of What Clothes Reveal, in case that's helpful -- the tan zig-zag textile.

Posted: Mon Jun 19, 2006 3:55 pm
by Tod
Shadowcat, any info on those cloths would be great.

We were out this week end at Kedleston Hall, near Derby. It was really hot on Saturday but every one stayed in full kit (as it was meant to be December). We were talking about this discussion and what was worn in summer and winter by the common folk, or even soldiers. Obviously the latter had uniforms.

Going by Mark and others comments above a linen suit may be right. The rest of the time perhaps they just melted. I'm certainly going to get linen breeches and a waistcoat to start with.

More kit more money, ho hum, what we do for our art.

Posted: Sun Dec 03, 2006 11:27 pm
by Foxe
I'm currently making an unlined woollen coat loosely based on one in the Manchester Costume Gallery. Without all that lining and interlining it's very cool, ideal for warm weather events.

(Apologies for coming in to this so late.)

Posted: Sun Dec 03, 2006 11:40 pm
by steve stanley
Better late than never!...It's all Tod's persuaded Herself to get me linen w/coat & breeches for Crimbo..Now that's a Cool outfit....

Linen Frock

Posted: Mon Dec 04, 2006 1:21 am
by Neibelungen
I had a good look at a late 18th linen coat and breeches a few years back in a private collection. Probably dated about 1770-90.

It was still pretty much made as a frock coat of the style, with all the same linings and interlining foundations you would expect to find in a woolen coat of the period. The outer fabric was probaly close to a 9-12 oz canvas from memory with a denser, but much finer linen lining and nothing in the centre back other than an 'internal collar' you find on a few.

Saying that, if you look at a few later officer's napoleonic coats a fair few will have a thin quilted lining, much like you'll find in a victorian evening jacket/tail coat. Substance wise these two are pretty much identical in regards to fabric weights, so perhaps it might be time to think about just how heavy that woolen broadcloth really needs to be.

Part of the trouble with summer woolens is that modern machine loomed wools are heavier than they were previously because of the need for stronger threads to cope with the speeds of commercial looms. A hand woven doeskin or superfine can be done with much denser weaving than is commercially viable today. You see some examples in collections not much heavier than a good worsted in some cases. A lot of re-enactors tend to use a heavier weight of fabric and lining that perhaps they might really need, or use a linen lining courser than might be expected.

Secondly there are some level of climate differences as well. I'm not sure of the exact figures but I'm pretty certain that theirs good evidence for cooler wetter summers and colder winters from the 15thC onwards till perhaps the early 1700's. After all, even allowing for the differences in river bankings, it's still hardly anywhere close to having a major frost fair on the Thames these days (though it might well be trying)

Posted: Mon Jul 16, 2007 8:28 pm
by Mark P.
Thought I'd resurrect this thread as I recently picked up 2nd hand a copy of 'C18th Clothing at Williamsburg' and found the following which would be relevant to colonial impressions.

'In the summertime even the gentry goe Many in White Holland (linen) wast coat and drawers and a thin cap on their heads and Thread stockings (knitted linen)'

Your cloathing in summer must be as thin and light as possible for the heat is beyond your conception ... your Cloth suit unlined may do for the Month of May, but after that time you must wear the thinnest Stuffs that can be made without lining; some people ...wear brown holland (linen) Coats with lining - some Crape - You must carry with you a stock of Linnen Waistcoats made very large and loose, that they mayn't stick to your hide when you perspire.