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A Sheer Black Mantle

With the mad summer rush of the Jane Austen Festival and Costume College over, I finally have time to share some of the projects I’ve been working on this year. The first, however, is a project I started in 2015 but for various reasons didn’t actually wear until last month!

Sheer (and opaque) black cloaks or mantles show up quite frequently in mid to late 18th century images, but they seemed to be particularly popular in the late 1780s. I based the shape of mine specifically on this fashion plate from Journal des Luxus und der Moden from May 1789, but many other fashion plates, engravings, and portraits have similar mantles.

Like the satin mantle I made earlier this year, I used the Diderot diagram, as well as the scaled pattern from the 1780-1800 satin cloak in Fitting and Proper to make the pattern with a few modifications. Because I was working with a very lightweight and sheer fabric, the back and sides benefited from more volume so the cloak body itself is almost a full half-circle. The extra fabric is then shaped at the back neckline with pleats.

The mantle is made from black silk/cotton voile from Thai Silks, and is entirely hand sewn. To trim it, I copied the sheer black cloak detailed in Costume Close Up. The edge of the body of mantle was turned up ¼” and then the hemmed ruffle was pleated to the cloak just above that and attached with a combination running and back stitch. This technique saves quite a bit of time as you hem and trim in one.

Basically the only progress pictures I took.

With its extra large hood and long back, this mantle is better suited to the fuller silhouette of the mid to late 1780s, but it still didn’t look too bad with the later 1790s dress I wore on Sunday of Costume College. There are several images of sheer black mantles/wraps being worn well into the late 1790s, and I’d love to make another one with a higher back and no hood to wear with later dresses. Someday!

Posted: 8/14/2018 10:06:40 AM by Aubry | with comments
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