Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Project #9. F.73 - "Mantle of serge"

The next pattern I'm tackling is a simple over garment for women referred to as a "Manto" or mantle, which takes the form of a simple semi-circular to semi-elliptical wrap. It is an extremely simple garment, but I'll also have a look at the pattern layouts for the other variations because the various methods of piecing the mantles is interesting and somewhat confusing at first glance. 

The Manto seems to be a type of external garment that performs a largely functional rather than decorative purpose, and is described elsewhere as "...the upper garment of a woman in Spaine, covering the head and body, much like a Dutch woman's huke.". Similar garments also show up outside of Spain, and generally take the form of a voluminous wrap which protects the wearer from weather, dirt and no doubt the prying eyes of strangers.

There is a wonderful collection of costume images in the volume "Kostüme und Sittenbilder des 16. Jahrhunderts aus West- und Osteuropa, Orient, der Neuen Welt und Afrika" [Trans: Costumes and manners images of the 16th century in Western and Eastern Europe , the Orient, the New World and Africa] in the Bavarian State Library the "Bayerische Staats Bibliothek".

Trachten für Stände und Bräuche in Spanien
[Costumes for objects and customs in Spain]

In the section regarding Spain, a woman is shown (above) travelling on horseback wearing a wrap such as this, with a hat both holding the head covering portion in place and shading her face. These mantles seem to have been reserved for outdoors use, either for travelling (as above) or for being out and about in the city.

Tracht der Frauen verschiedener Stände in Städten und Regionen Italiens, Frankreichs, Englands,
aus Flandern, den Niederlanden und Brabant
[Costume of women of different classes in cities and regions of Italy, France, England, Flanders,
the Netherlands and Brabant]

The image above is not of a Spanish lady and her companions, but is one of the examples that shows a similar wrap in use in the section of the book covering Italy, France, England, Flanders and the Netherlands.

The variations in Alcega's pattern book vary primarily in the fabric types and finished sizes, and the layouts required to fit those various sizes on the diverse fabric widths. Initially I thought these might be transparent veils, but the fabrics specified are serge (a twilled woollen material), kersey (a wool fabric) and silk. Which would seem to reinforce that these are protective garments used as a cover up.

Although there are a number of sizes shown for the various fabric types, there is mention of drafting the pattern to suit the wearer's height in the descriptions. I would assume that the reason there are so many variations of the garment in the book is because the method of folding and cutting the strips, and the lengths of fabric required, gets quite complicated in the larger sizes cut from the narrower fabric. 

I'll be recreating F.73 which is the second of the Manto patterns in the book. I will however have a look at the fabric and cutting method for all of the Mantos because as I mentioned previously I think the layout diagrams are quite confusing at first glance.

F.72a & F.73 - "Mantle of serge". 
Both of these versions use fabric that is "bt" or 1 1/3 ells wide, or 112cm (approx 3' 8 1/8") wide, but vary slightly in length. F.72a uses 7 ells, or 588cm (approx 19' 3 1/2"), and F.73 is a little longer and uses 7 1/3 ells, or 616cm (approx 20' 2 1/2") in length.

In both cases the fabric is laid out unfolded, and then the left is folded cross ways to the length of the front section, so that the left hand pattern piece is cut double along the left side fold, and the back section and any godets are cut as a single thickness. (F.72 requires a godet, but it is not shown in the diagram.)

F.72a. Click to enlarge
F.73. Click to enlarge.

F.73a - "Mantle of kersey for a woman".
This pattern is almost identical to those above, but uses a fabric "bQ" wide, being 1 1/4 ells wide, or 105cm (approx 3' 5 3/8") wide x 7 ells, or 588cm (approx 19' 3 1/2") in length.

The fabric is folded partially over on the left to be cut double in the same manner as above. 

F.73a. Click to enlarge.

F.74, F.74a & F.75 - "Mantle of silk for a woman".
All three of these versions of the Manto are various widths and lengths, and all use silk fabric that is "tt" wide, being 2/3 of an ell or 56cm (approx 22") wide. F.74 is the largest and requires a length of fabric 14 1/2 ells long, or 1218cm (just under 40') long. F.74a is a smaller size and requires a length of fabric 13 ells long, or 1092cm (just under 35' 10") long. F.75 is the smallest of the three and requires a length of fabric 8 2/3 ells long, or 728cm (approx 23' 10 1/2") long.

The manner of cutting these versions is very different for the other Mantos above. The fabric is cut as 4 strips. The fabric is first laid flat, and then the folded over from the left to the size of the longest length and cut. Then the fabric is refolded and cut to the size of the next length, with the curve heading in the opposite direction. This process is repeated until the smallest layer is cut.

(This may make more sense in the diagram below.)

F.74. Note: the diagram is printed upside down. Click to enlarge.

(Note: the diagram in F.74 has been printed upside down. The curving hem should be on the right, and the fold on the left.) 

F.74a. Click to enlarge.
F.75. Click to enlarge.

F.75a - "Mantle of silk for a girl"
This version also uses silk fabric that is 2/3 of an ell, or 56cm (approx 22") wide x 7 2/3 ells, or 644cm (approx 21' 1 1/2") long.

This smallest version is made up of 3 strips instead of 4, cut in the same manner as the 3 versions above.

F.75a. Click to enlarge.

Some mathematics and dimensions
In all versions of the patterns the Manto is assembled in a number of strips, from 2 up to 4 in most of the silk layouts. The width of the straight front edge is achieved by folding the fabric to the required dimension, and the length of the Manto from the front to the back of the curving hem is a combination of the fabric width x the number of strips required. 

In the diagram for F.72a we know the fabric width is "bt" or 1 1/3 ells wide, yet the vertical dimensions on the left are shown as "bbm" or 2 1/2 ells. It then becomes clear that "bbm" refers to the total finished length of the Manto. The curved back section must be a little short of the full width of the fabric and when sewn to the back of the front strip will make the full "bbm" length. (There is also clearly a small godet required for this pattern that has not been detailed in the pattern.) 

The end result is not quite a semi circle as it is "bbbb" or 336cm (approx 11') wide, and the length from the front straight edge to the back of the curving hem is 210cm (approx 6' 10 3/4").

By contrast, the Manto in F.74 uses 4 strips and the end result is 315cm (approx 10' 4") wide, and 224cm (approx 7' 4 1/4") long from front to back, so slightly more elliptical.

F.74 folding and cutting detail.

The cutting diagram is a lot more complex with curves heading off in a number of directions. Each curve read from right to left relates to the subsequent folds and cuts required. Then each layer is opened out and assembled like this:

4 straight seams. Easy peasy.

Developing the pattern
The pattern for F.73 is a fairly simple thing to draft, and the only watch point is to make sure that the curves are continuous and line up nicely. It's a little easier to do that if you are drafting on paper because you can move the pieces around, however if you are drawing directly onto the fabric with soap as Alcega's contemporaries did, then presumably sketching in each curve first would make the process somewhat easier.

F.73 pattern pieces. Click to enlarge.

There is a somewhat cryptic comment in the translation for the first Manto in the book that refers to using the excess to construct ties (or bands?). Presumably this might mean a few ties which could be used to tie closed the front edge of the Manto like a cloak, but really I'm speculating.

Putting it together
This is a very easy sew, completed with just a few seams and some hemming. I first sewed the godet piece to the curving back section, then attached this to the unfolded front piece with a single straight seam. Once this was attached it was a simple process to hem all around the Manto and it was done.

The completed F.73 Manto front. Click to enlarge.

So, not the most complex or photogenic garment. Let's just state that upfront, shall we? 

My mannequin lacks a head, so I folded the front edge under a little and tried draping it on the dummy as if it was being held closed around the shoulders. The length is sufficient however to drape over the head and still just clear the ground.

Completed F.73 Manto side, showing the godet. Click to enlarge.

There you have it. Made up in a dark wool or silk this garment would be useful in keeping the wearer warm, dry and free from dirt. It could also be possible that it had a role in preserving the modesty of the wearer when out of doors, and possibly even acted as a form of security, obscuring the jewels, purse and any sumptuous garments of middle class of high status women when travelling.

Next I'll be tackling a garment from the large fold out section of the book, F1.6 the "Women's silk skirt and bodice with full length pointed sleeves". The pattern as presented in the book is a little degraded and has what appears to be a tear through the middle, but should be clear enough to use. 

With that I'm getting close to the end of the women't patterns in the book, and then it'll be time to start tackling the men's patterns. I was pleasantly surprised at my birthday party last week to find that a bunch of my wonderful friends have collectively ordered a half sized male form from the US for me as a gift. That should arrive sometime in the next few weeks, around about the time I'll be finishing the last of the women's patterns. Perfect timing!

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