When I first laid eyes on the silk stockings in Linda Baumgarten’s book, Costume Close-Up, I knew I wanted a pair. But I just learned to knit and hadn’t yet finished my pair of 16th century Irish wool stockings. And frankly, the thought of knitting 27 stitches to the inch terrified me! At the time, I was playing with a militia group and what would a female cannoneer being doing with silk stockings anyway…
Then the Bachman House, that haven of civility, saved me again. At Tavern Nights there, I portray a customer at the Inn. Silk stockings would not be out of place on a merchant’s wife. So I steeled myself to buy #00000 needles and go blind trying.
Thankfully, I read Baumgarten’s book more carefully before I began. The stockings in her book were made from frame-knitted silk and seamed together. And I had an idea… I dug out my swatches from my favourite silk supplier, Rupert Gibbon and Spider, and found exactly what I was looking for — a swatch of silk knit fabric. I counted the stitches just to be sure. Twenty-eight to the inch. Close enough!
The stockings in Baumgarten’s book are English and date to about 1750. They are coral in colour and are 25″ long with the foot extended. The foot length is 8½-9″. The top of the stocking, which is 246 stitches around, is finished with a 7/8″ welt. The preshaped stocking was sewn up the back by whipstitching the butted edges together with a matching coral silk thread. The separate sole of the foot was then attached.
The stockings are decorated with clocks worked in blue silk thread. I intend to add this embellishment to my replicas as well.
- Linda Baumgarten. Eighteenth Century Clothing at Williamsburg. 1986: The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Williamsburg, Virginia.
- Linda Baumgarten and John Watson with Florine Carr. Costume Close Up: Clothing Construction and Pattern, 1750-1790. 1999: The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Williamsburg, VA.
- Nancy Bradfield. Costume in Detail 1730-1930. 1997: Costume and Fashion Press, New York.
- Ellen J. Gehret. Rural Pennsylvania Clothing. 1976: George Shumway Publisher, York, Pennsylvania.
- Tandy and Charles Hersh. Cloth and Costume 1750-1800. 1995: Cumberland County Historical Society, Camp Hill, PA.
© 2002, 2003 Kass McGann. All Rights Reserved. The Author of this work retains full copyright for this material. Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of this document for non-commercial private research or educational purposes provided the copyright notice and this permission notice are preserved on all copies.