Mend It, Patch It, Make It Do©

While we strive for historical accuracy to the strictest degree in everything we make, it is important to realize the common person was not error-proof in making clothing and accessories. In the following photos the reader will see what might today be viewed as shoddy workmanship, however, for several reasons these garments are not extraordinary.

Pieced linings were common in eras when every scrap of fabric was used, and nothing was wasted. Then as now, some seamstresses and tailors were more meticulous with their stitches and buttonhole binding than others and there was quite a variance in skill level for those making clothing at home.

Below are just a few examples of pieced linings then the subject of patched clothing is another topic to be explored.


Jacket, late 18th century, reportedly French made. Note how many different fabrics are used to make the lining and the different sizes and shapes of the pieces. Collection of The Met.
A pieced lining found in a Spencer ca. 1815.
This coat belonged to Thomas Jefferson, ca. 1800, housed in the Monticello Collections. The article and photograph were found in the Colonial Williamsburg web archives. Light spots are seen in the middle photo, and period repairs on the elbows are seen in the photo on the right. They date this to being worn ca. 1800 and think it may have been worn during Jefferson’s term as President. The garment clearly demonstrates that even well-to-do people wore patched and repaired clothing and would not have hesitated to piece a lining.
Pieced coat lining, ca. 1745, collection of the Manchester Gallery of Costume.
Look closely at the area by the fourth buttonhole from the bottom on the stomacher part of the gown. The bottom (right) front of this part of the garment has been carefully pieced together and the horizontal seam can be clearly seen between the button/buttonhole and the ruched trim.
The website dates this waistcoat to ca. 1780s-90s, Nordiska Museet. Count the number of pieces sewn together to make the outer front of this waistcoat, and also note that no particular effort was made to align the stripes where the pieces are sewn together. This was almost certainly done to stretch a small piece of fabric enough to cut out the outer garment. The lining is also pieced using at least two different fabrics.
The lining on these stays is heavily patched.
Stays with patched lining and rather crude stitching. These were sold on ebay. Ca. 1780s-90s.

Published by thehistoricfoodie

I write articles for various magazines and books about foods and cooking techniques. My work centers primarily around historic foods and I travel throughout the country doing cooking demonstrations at various local, state, and national venues and teaching an occasional period cooking class. I've done cooking demonstrations on national and local television, including Chicago's WGN.

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