The Plimoth Jacket.
Photo linked from the Winterthur Museum.
The "Plimoth Jacket," currently on loan to Winterthur from Plimoth Plantation, forms the inspiration and heart of the new exhibit and the conference. For those of you who have not yet heard about the project, the Plimoth Jacket is a conglomerative reproduction of two 1620s jackets held in the collection of the V&A; one jacket (the "Margaret Laton" jacket, V&A #T.228-1994) served as the pattern base, while the other (V&A #1359-1900) provided the embroidery design that was reproduced in exact detail for the project. This jaw-dropping piece was brought to life by more than 300 hard-working hands that used only early-seventeenth-century tools, materials, and techniques to recreate the sequins, lace, threads, and fabric that make up this jacket. More than 3,700 hours were invested in this exploration of seventeenth-century needlework culture and practice. The product is a triumph of research, art, meticulous skill, and a passionate devotion to the skills of the artisans of the past. Plimoth Plantation's The Embroiderer's Story blog and Tricia Wilson's Thistle Threads blog provide detailed records of the creation of the jacket. Winterthur has also put together a fabulous presentation full of great images and lots of additional information about the production process from inspiration to pattern to progress to product; be sure not to miss it!
If you are interested in attending the October conference, the conference brochure and registration form can be found in .pdf form here. Further information on Winterthur's extensive permanent Textiles and Needlework Collection (including virtual catalogues and past exhibits) can be found here.
For more on the patterning and construction of garments like the Plimoth Jacket, take a look at Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion 4 (which Tricia Wilson discusses in her blog account of the jacket project here and here) and Jenny Tiramani's new book, Seventeenth-Century Women's Dress Patterns (which we heard her speak about at the March CW conference!).