Two great events in life exercise the art of the lingère more than any other: marriage and birth, and it is not to be doubted that marriage precedes legitimate birth. When a marriage is decided, fathers and mothers, a relative, etc. ordinarily prepare the trousseau for the wife. "Trousseau" means everything that is necessary to enter into housekeeping, excepting bedclothes and table linen, which the husband must provide. The rich and the great make it of what is most beautiful and most sought-after. We will use this type for an example, because its description will present most of the pieces which are used by women. So we begin with the list for a most opulent trousseau: the yardage of the pieces will be next detailed, then their cut and their fashioning for those who need it. The same will be done for an infant's layette, which will be followed by several pieces of linen which are neither part of the trousseau nor the layette, and we will finish with church linen.
While there are some pieces in these lists which depend on the couturière (seamstress), they will only be named because the lingère usually takes care of furnishing the whole, ordering those pieces from the seamstresses: these are marked with a star.
LIST OF A TROUSSEAU
For the Head
A city Toilette* in muslin or lace.
A country Toilette in muslin.
Six Trousses or Comb cases, of good basin of Troyes.
Six Cushion Covers, of the same.
Forty-eight Toilette Napkins.
Twenty-four Toilette Aprons.
Six Peignoirs, of which four are trimmed in good muslin and two in bobbin lace.
Thirty-six Frottoirs for wiping off rouge, in basin with nap.
Thirty-six Frottoirs for wiping off powder, in doubled muslin.
A Coiffure, the Tour-de-Gorge ("Around-the-Throat", or tucker) and pleated Neck-handkerchief, of point d'Alençon.
A Coiffure, the Tucker and pleated Neck-handkerchief, of point d'Angleterre.
A Coiffure, the Tucker and pleated Neck-handkerchief, of true Valenciennes lace.
A Coiffure called "Batting-the-eye" of embroidered Maline, for undress.
Six simple Neck-handkerchief in mille-fleur muslin trimmed with lace, for undress.
Twelve muslin Neck-handkerchiefs.
Twelve quilted full Caps trimmed with a plain lace, for night.
Twelve full Caps with two rows of ruffles in muslin and lace, for night.
Twelve full Caps with two rows of ruffles, most beautiful, for day, in case of indisposition.
Twelve Head-bands or Bandeaux trimmed with a plain lace, for night.
Twelve full Coiffs in muslin, for night.
Six full Coiffs in entoilage,** for day.
Twelve Pillowcases, of which ten are trimmed with muslin, and two with lace.
Six quilted Caps of a medium size.
* That is, a tablecloth for the dressing table (the toilette).
** Entoilage is interfacing. In this context, it's a relatively narrow fabric that could be used to stiffen lace in order to make it hold a shape.
For the Body
Seventy-two Handkerchiefs in half-holland.
Forty-eight Handkerchiefs in batiste.
Seventy-two pairs of Slippers.
* Six Jumps in a good basin.
Twelve Stomachers trimmed at the top with a plain bobbin lace.
* Six Camisoles trimmed with cordons, in good cotton cloth or a good Indian basin, lined with napped basin, for night.
* Six quilted Petticoats in muslin.
* Six Underpetticoats for the summer of good cotton cloth or Indian basin.
* Six Bedgowns / Six Petticoats in good embroidered muslin, trimmed with the same, for what is called a pretty déshabillé.
Six Jumps Trimmings / Six Tuckers / Twelve pairs of Ruffles in scalloped muslin.
Six Jumps Trimmings / Twelve Tuckers / Twelve pairs of Ruffles in lace backed with embroidered muslin.
Six pairs of fabric Sleeves for washing the hands.
Forty-eight fabric Cloths for washing the arms.
Seventy-two fabric Cloths for the Garderobe.
Yardage, Cut, and Fashioning of the Pieces of a Trousseau.
The toilette cover for the city is composed of two parts, the top and the flounces, which, taken together, make the whole.
The body of the top requires a piece of fabric three-quarters of an ell wide and an ell long. That of the bottom is of the same fabric and yardage, making two ells together. The two flounces are made of muslin or lace; the large flounce which attaches to the body beneath will be two-thirds of an ell high.
If the muslin is only three-quarters of an ell wide, about seven ells will be required for the large flounce, and six for the little one, which makes in all five and three-quarter ells. If it is fifteen-sixteenths wide, only five ells will be required.
The toilette cover for the country is only made of a body and a flounce. The body takes seven-eighths of an ell in a fabric that is three-quarters of an ell wide; the flounce will be half an ell high. If the muslin is only three-quarters of an ell wide, it will take almost six ells; if it is fifteen-sixteenths, about five will suffice.
To assemble this toilette cover, one begins by rounding the four corners of the body. The large flounce is gathered and sewn with running stitches around the body of the bottom: the little flounce is attached in the same way to the body of the top, and a little pleated and flattened head is left on it. See "trim" below.
Bobbin lace toilette covers are bought already put together: they are five ells around.
Trousse, or Comb Case
Two cases are made from the width of a piece of Troyes basin: each must be thirteen-twenty-fourths of an ell long. Each will have two compartments, each three-thirty-seconds of an ell wide, which are sewn to the body of the case in whipstitch or overcasting. When the second one is put in place, the top of the case must be cut in a point, and a hem or a knotted stitch must be used; in the middle of the top of this point, a buttonhole is made, and a button to close it is sewn on the case. It is trimmed all around, adding a generous inch in height, with muslin scalloped on two sides and gathered, which is sewn to it down the middle. A band of an ell and a quarter of this muslin is required.
This is made in toile or basin, an eighth of an ell square. It is trimmed with scalloped muslin half an inch high, or with bobbin lace. As it is folded in half, it is closed with overcast stitches on three sides; the fourth is left open to allow the cushion to enter. This opening is hemmed, and basted shut when the cushion is inside.
They are made in a fabric two-thirds or three-quarters of an ell wide and are an ell long. They are hemmed at both ends.
They are made in linen or muslin.
In ell-wide linen, it must be a piece seven-eighths of an ell long; in embroidered muslin, fifteen-sixteenths of an ell wide and the same length.
As for the width of these aprons: they are usually wider than one piece, but two full pieces will be too wide, so the necessary extra width must be cut out. Since the selvages run down the sides of the first, the cut sides of the second are joined to both selvages: they are sewn first with a backstitch, and then the selvage is folded down on top. The whole lower edge is hemmed. The whole upper edge is done in large pleats about an inch deep, overlapping each other, and held together with slightly separated overcast stitches. A linen tape, about an inch wide, is positioned atop the pleats, where it is sewn from the outside with backstitch; on the inside, it is felled with whipstitch.
Two sorts of peignoirs are made, a peignoir with turned-back sleeves, and a peignoir en pagode.
For the first, take fabric which is three-quarters of an ell wide, and cut three pieces about three-quarters of an ell long; the piece meant for the open front of the peignoir will be cut from the top to the bottom in two. One ell is necessary for the sleeves, from the side of which one cuts out the collar. In all, it takes three and a quarter ells for one peignoir.
To make it up, all the selvages are sewn together by overcasting. The whole bottom and the front of the two half-pieces are hemmed. The top is gathered with running stitch, then mounted on a collar of the same fabric with whipstitch, making a stitch at the outside of each gather; folding the collar in half down the length, it is also whipped down inside, gather by gather, or every two gathers.* (See the article on a man's shirt cuffs, later.) If a drawstring is wanted, the edges of the collar are hemmed and a ribbon passed through (see the mantelet); otherwise, whip them closed and then sew a linen tape to each one.
* This is what's known as stroked or stroke gathers today.
With regard to sleeves: they are attached to the openings at the shoulders left in the body of the peignoir. They are assembled this way: if selvage to selvage, simply with overcasting; if there are no selvages, the edges are hemmed and then whipped together. If there is a selvage on one side and none on the other, a felled seam is used. The sleeve is pleated to the size of the opening, each pleat about a finger wide, overlapping each other a half-finger. (See the man's shirt, later.)
For the peignoir en pagode, the same method and yardage as in the preceding are used, except that the sleeves are not added in the same way. To shape the sleeve on each side, begin assembly from the bottom, sewing the half-pieces of the front to the whole pieces in the back. Stop sewing this seam at about a third of the way up, about elbow-level, and after leaving another third unsewn, continue sewing the seam again. But here, instead of sewing the back to the front at the sides, turn a portion of the top of the back to the side of the front piece and sew them together, except for the opening of the sleeve. So the back and the front are attached to each other at the bottom of the sides, and as part of the back's width is attached to the top of the side of the front, a pocket or a relaxed portion of the back is created in the unsewn third, which forms the "pagoda" (the name of the type of sleeve through which the fully-dressed arm passes). The peignoir is finished by gathering the collar, etc. like the previous. Figure I, Plate 2, will help in understanding this method, which is a little complicated. A: the two pieces of the back. B: the two half-pieces in front. E: opening of the sleeve.
If these Peignoirs are trimmed all the way around the edges, they need a half-ell of three-quarters wide muslin, cut into eight bands, or six ells of lace. If the bottom is untrimmed, only five-sixths of an ell of muslin is required, or lace in proportion.
In trimming, if you want a little head on the frill, begin by whip-gathering in the area between the head and the ruffle.* If only a simple trimming is wanted, it is gathered in the same way at the edge of the muslin. Both types are mounted on the fabric with overcasting; the little head, if there is one, lays on the fabric, and is held near its hem or scalloping with running stitch. If lace is used for trimming, whip-gathers are used at the foot of the lace, and it is attached to the fabric with the same stitch.
* Basically, turn down the top edge of the piece of fabric you're using as a ruffle, and whip-gather that fold. When you flatten it out again, there will be a tiny "head" over the main ruffle.
Frottoirs for taking off rouge.
They are made of napped basin a half-ell wide; two of them can be made from a quarter-ell length in that width. They are hemmed all around, except the selvages, or buttonhole stitch is used.
Frottoirs for taking off powder.
Two can be made from the width of a double muslin, three-quarters of an ell wide and three-eighths long. They are sewn like the previous.
Lace coiffures, and Tuckers.
Coiffures* are generally made in two ways: one with one row of ruffles, one in two rows, so to speak, with a bavolet** on top.
* A coiffure is similar to a cap, but not sewn - it's an assemblage of lace pieces pinned together.
** A bavolet was a headdress worn by rural women in the countryside around Paris; here it seems to be used for a ruffle that went over the top of the head. In the nineteenth century, the bavolet would be the wide ruffle along the back of a bonnet.
If the lace coiffure is made without a bavolet, the maker will need one and a quarter ells of wide entoilage for the crown, a third of an ell of muslin for the papillon (brim ruffle), five-eighths of lace and an ell of medium entoilage to sew to it, and for the lappets, a half-ell of lace: in all, two and five-eighths ells of lace. If a bavolet is used, it will be of the same length as the lace of the lappets, with three-quarters of an ell for the papillon, and three-quarters for the bavolet. One and a half ells of the same entoilage will be needed to sew the lace to the papillon and bavolet, and an ell of engrêlure* to place at the foot: in all three and a half ells of lace.
* A narrow, plain lace that could be sewn to a more delicate and fancy lace to strengthen the edge.
Every coiffure is mounted on a quilted cap, figure F on plate 2 (described below), which is set on a cardboard head and held in place with a ribbon that passes under its chin. This ribbon is pinned to the cap at each end. The pleats of the papillon are held around the front of the cap with several very small pins, and are tightly held in their places to a frame. This frame is made of very fine annealed iron wire, wrapped and covered with flat white silk. Each pleat is held up with a branch of said frame, and to hold the frame closely to the papillon, it is sewn all along the front edge. The bavolet is then positioned and attached above, if it is desired, but without a frame. The crown is pinned to the quilted cap and must cover it completely, as well as the pins that attach the aforementioned two rows of ruffles.
The seams used in coiffures made of lace, muslin, and all the other materials, are: overcasting to mount parts on the crown, hemming to sew the lace to the brims, and the whipstitch for the drawstring at the bottom of the crown, in which two linen tapes are crossed, the right going out to the left, and the left going out to the right.*
* So there are two separate drawstrings, each beginning at one end of the channel and running through the whole thing to exit on the other side. You then tie them together once you put the coiffure or cap on, and it holds the tension beautifully.
Figure D represents a coiffure of fully mounted lace: a, the crown trimmed and ruched with entoilage and lace; b, the papillon; c, ribbons that trim the crown and papillon.
Figure E represents the pieces of a disassembled coiffure: c, the crown; a, the brim; d, the lappet and the lace of the bavolet.
The lace tucker is three-quarters of an ell long, or even roughly an ell, depending on the width of the wearer's back. It is attached to the neckline of the shift all around: to do this, it is overcast to a linen tape, which is also whipped to the neckline or sewn with running stitch.
Coiffure called "Batting-the-eye," in lace.
This coiffure is made in two pieces: for the under-piece with the lappet, an ell and three-quarters of fancy lace are required, and for the over-piece, three-quarters of an ell, which makes two and a half ells for both pieces. An ell of petit pied, a very narrow lace, is added to the backs of the lappets, which must end square at the bottom, and be three inches wide including the petit pied. The crown will be entoilage. Seamed on the outside.
Pleated neck handkerchief in entoilage and lace.
This neck handkerchief is normally made with only one ruffle: an ell of wide entoilage is needed for each, one and a half ells of broad lace, and one and a half ells of narrow lace to make the head of the ruffle. It is pleated and bouillonné* at intervals. The whole is overcast to the kerchief.
* This can mean ruched all over, or pinched tighter at intervals to give a "bubbled" appearance.
Doubled neck handkerchief.
This is made in muslin that is three-quarters of an ell wide, and sewn as a square. It can be trimmed with lace all around, or worn without trimming when it is made in batiste. Four ells are required for six hemmed kerchiefs.
The quilted cap is the base of all the things that are fastened to the head. It is made of three pieces, a middle and two sides. The top layer is linen and the lining is fustian, with cotton between the two; the whole is quilted with running stitches in order to keep the cotton from becoming disarranged. It is edged with a narrow linen tape, sewn with whipstitch. You can find large, medium, or small ones. Figure F, Plate 2, where it is folded in half, shows its structure.
Caps with two rows of ruffles.
For the crown and brim of two caps, a third of an ell of double muslin three-quarters of an ell wide is required; a quarter ell of clear muslin is needed for the two rows of ruffles, and three and a sixth ells of lace. The caps are put together very differently from the previous coiffures: all the pieces are whipped together. The crown is whip-gathered to the brim, and the two ruffles are whipped to the brim in front. The bottom of the crown is tightened with a drawstring (as described in the previous instructions to the lace coiffure).
Head-bands or Bandeaux.
These are usually made in royale or half-holland. They are trimmed with a little lace whipped on: this gives them different shapes and sizes, following the taste and creativity of the seamstress, so the amounts of fabric and lace cannot be determined here. The head-band is put on to contain the hair before dressing it for the night.
Full Coiffe in muslin.
If using muslin that is fifteen-sixteenths of an ell wide, a third of an ell is required for the coiffure; if using three-quarter ell width, three-eighths are needed.
Having folded the muslin in half across the width, cut out the shape indicated by a, Plate 2, Figure G. The cut piece, d, is flipped around and whipped to the end of b, with the point cut off. The back of the coiffe has a drawstring in a channel folded up where d was cut out, which fits it to the back of the head.
Full Coiffe in entoilage and lace.
Three and a half ells of wide entoilage are required, and two and a half ells of plain lace. The same method is used as the preceding one, with whipped seams. The plain lace is used to trim the front and back.
Half-holland nine-sixteenths of an ell wide is used, and an ell and three sixteenths of it is required. For the muslin trimming, you need wide muslin five-sixths of an ell wide, and three-eighths long, cut into four bands: the whole whipped together. If trimmed in lace, it takes three ells of broad lace and three ells of narrow lace: the lace is gathered with running stitch to make a head and is whipped in place on three sides, the fourth staying open to allow the pillow to be put in, and then it is basted shut.
Lady's maid's apron.
It is necessary to use fabric three-quarters of an ell wide, in two pieces, each seven-eighths of an ell long, with another one of a quarter ell for the bib and the pocket. The two pieces are sewn together with whipped or flat-felled seams down their length, and the top edge is pleated to a linen tape long enough to go around the waist and come to tie in front. The bib is whipped to the middle of the top of the apron: it is squared, more high than wide, and it must rise to the chest and fasten to the bodice with pins. The pocket, whose opening must be hemmed, is sewn on the right side of the apron.
They are sewn in three fashions, one called French, the two others called English.
French, Figure B, [Plate 2].
Fabric one ell wide is required.
Two bodies can be made from the width, each two and a sixth ells long, and two gores that are five-sixths of an ell long. Each body is made in one piece to fold at the shoulders, so nine ells are required for six shifts.
The gores must be cut upwards, diagonally, to a quarter of the distance from the top of the body, and sewn with flat-felled seams like those of the body and shoulders. If the sleeves will be pleated, fabric seven-eighths of an ell wide will be used to make them, and each will be a quarter-ell long. They are gathered like those on men's shirts, and a little cuff is added without topstitching or buttonholes. If you want them to be ungathered and long, a fabric two-thirds of an ell wide is used, and cut to five-twelfths long, and they are hemmed at the bottom; if they are ungathered and trimmed, the trimming is whipped on. The same yardage as for the gathered sleeves is used.
Women's shifts all have a deeper or shallower neckline cut from the top of the front of the shift: the usual one is six inches deep, and twelve to thirteen inches wide from shoulder to shoulder, as seen in Plate 2. There are wet nurses who split the shift in the middle of the neckline like men's jabots for about six inches, more or less.
First English shift, Figure A.
This requires a fabric two-thirds or three-quarters of an ell wide.
For the body, two and a sixth ells of fabric are used, folded in two from top to bottom, so that the body of the shift is reduced to a length of one and a twelfth ells. From the top are cut two little gores to put on the bottom, leaving the top of the shift half an ell wide: the surplus from this half-ell will make the width of the gores on each side.
For the sleeves, the same fabric is used. If they are gathered, two ells will be required for six pairs, letting one and half sleeves be taken from the width of the fabric. In all, fifteen ells for six shifts, with thirteen ells of that for the bodies.
Second English Shift, Figure C.
This method is only appropriate for thin people. The same fabrics as in the previous are used, the same length for the body and the same width at the top, but it is only necessary to take out one gore of a sixth of an ell in width. To achieve this, a piece one quarter of the body's length is cut out at the top of one side, which will be for the armscye; then below this, the narrow gore is cut to the bottom, to be put at the same level on the other, uncut side.
As with those above, thirteen ells are required for six bodies. Only an ell more is required for three pairs of sleeves, the three others being made from the cut quarter from the top of the six shifts, before taking the gore from each, as was just described. This method saves an ell from six shifts, since it only requires fourteen ells.
Economical method for lengthening a woman's shift by six inches, without making it visible.
It can happen that the shifts of an adolescent who is mostly grown may not be worn out, and yet cannot be of use to anyone else because they are too short. Here is an economical method of lengthening them by six inches without making the alteration visible, with a little piece of fabric six inches in height and the width of the top of the back of the shift.
Take off the sleeves and cut the shoulders across at the level of the neckline in front, so they are still attached in the back.
Cut a piece of fabric matching that of the shift, six inches high the whole way along its length, and as wide as the top of the front of the shift, where you will sew it from armscye to armscye.
Sew the aforesaid piece or patch in, and make the little indentation for the back neckline between the shoulders.
The result of this operation is that the shift will be lengthened six inches and what was the back will be now the front. There will be a seam at each shoulder and one in the back, and the top of the gores will be found to be six inches lower. Put the sleeves back on.
In royale or half-Holland, four and a half ells are needed for six handkerchiefs, hemmed all around. In courtray, four and three-quarter ells; in batiste, four ells.
Fabric seven-eighths of an ell wide is required, and for twelve pairs a length of nine-sixteenths of an ell. Two pairs are made from the width.
Cut the length of the fabric into six equal pieces, each cut in two across the width. Fold each of these twelve pieces in four, then cut them in two so that the selvage runs down the length of the slipper.
To cut out the slipper, take one of the doubled pieces and cut a half-circle in it for the tip of the foot. Unfold it, and cut one of the halves as you see in a, Plate 3, Figure FF, to make the top of the instep; shape the other half, b, for the heel. Fold the pieces again, and finish the edge of the shaping over the instep. The whole is sewn in buttonhole stitch, each part separately, then it is overcast together, or the two pieces are sewn together with buttonhole stitch, with the two folds on the outside. If assembling with overcasting, each folded edge is held in place with whipstitch. Join the two sides of the heel dart together with a seam, and close the tip of the foot.
They are made of linen and lined with napped basin, or else two layers of muslin with cotton between them, and they are quilted. They are a quarter-ell and an inch high, and the same measurement wide at the top, coming down to a sixteenth of an ell wide at the bottom. Usually they are trimmed at the top with a plain lace.
The stomacher is sewn all around with whipstitch, after the cotton has been quilted in little squares with running stitch, and the lace trimming, whether gathered or not, is sewn on with overcasting.
An ell and a half of muslin is needed for the mantelet, if the muslin is fifteen-sixteenths of an ell wide. If it is only three-quarters of an ell wide, an ell and three-quarters are needed.
Fold the muslin across the width, and cut out the mantelet as you see in Figure L, Plate 2. The hood, M, cut doubled like the mantelet, must be five-sixteenths of an ell deep for the head, and five-eighths high.
The muslin ruffles that trim the edges of the mantelet and the front of the hood are a good sixteenth of an ell wide and six ells long. These gathered bands have a little head, and are sewn with running stitch.
Before joining the hood to the mantelet, it is necessary to begin by cutting down the bottom of the back of the hood very gradually, increasing the cut-out piece to a sixteenth of an ell high at the center back. The little cutout in the hood (a) is sewn with a flat-felled seam on the inside to b; above this seam, it is gauged with running stitch into a circle - all the pleats join at the center. These pleats are even and an inch deep, and are held with several overcast stitches. The neck edge of the hood (cc) is hemmed. The hood being ready, knife pleat the neck edge of the mantelet, leaving two inches unpleated at the back and another two inches at each side of the front, and fix it in place with back or running stitch.
Fold the drawstring casing in half down the length. Sew one half to the right side of the neckline in backstitch, and the other half to the wrong side in whipstitch. Then whip-gather the hood to the drawstring channel, respecting the unpleated spaces of the collar.
A ribbon is passed through the drawstring casing, and fastened in the middle: this is used to tie the mantelet in front.
For each pair one needs three-quarters of an ell of basin de Troyes.
Jumps are in the purview of the seamstress, but it is the lingères who trim them. Trim for the jumps is made of a muslin strip one and three-quarters ells long and a twelfth of an ell wide. This folded band must be cut in two at a quarter of its width: the trim for the bottom of the jumps will be a sixteenth of an ell high, and the collar a twenty-eighth.
Lace trimmings are made in the same length, a sixteenth of an ell high: these are not cut down. The whole is gathered and whipped down.
Tucker in scalloped muslin.
It is an ell long and a sixteenth of an ell wide. For putting it on the garment, see the description under the lace coiffure.
Muslin sleeve ruffles in three rows, scalloped with lace.
An ell of muslin five-eighths of an ell wide is required per pair, and seven ells of lace about a half-inch wide. If the muslin is embroidered, it is necessary to cut out two pairs at a time, and intersect them; by that method there is no loss.* See the following for how to make them.
* So, once you've cut one ruffle out, leaving reverse scallops behind, cut out the next from those reverse scallops.
Lace manchettes in three layers, with an entoilage.
This requires eight ells of wide entoilage, and five and a quarter ells of lace per pair. If the lace is wide, only seven ells of entoilage are required. Each row is whip-gathered, and the single or triple ruffles are mounted on a linen tape: the large row to one edge, the medium one to the middle, and the smallest to the other edge. See Figure K, Plate 2. They rise in tiers, one above the other, and the tape is sewn or basted to the sleeve.
Linen sleeves for washing the hands.
A fabric three-quarters of an ell wide is used; half an ell is needed for two pairs. As they are expandable, they are intercut.* The bottom is gathered like a cuff, and is sometimes trimmed with a narrow lace. The sides are assembled with a whipped seam for three or four inches, or a false hem is made, to which the cords are attached. To use them, the wearer's sleeve ruffles are tucked up, then this sleeve is pulled up the arm, and the cords at the top are tied.
* I don't know.
Linens for washing under the arms.
Half-holland is used and two linens are cut from its width. Each is three-eighths of an ell long, hemmed all around.
Royale is used, and two linens are cut from its width; the length will be as the previous. They are hemmed the same.
* I'm pretty sure these are toilet wipes.
As we were listing the pieces of the trousseau which only concern the lingère, and among these pieces some are in the purview of the seamstress, like jumps, camisoles, petticoats, and bedgowns, we refer the reader to the book of their art, which is printed with that of the tailor.