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Dear #HistoricalSewing -verse, have you ever stumbled on late victorian / early 1900s instructions on how to sew knit fabric at home?

I don't think I have, and all of the references to knit garments I can think of are of things that one would buy ready made, and thus sewn in an industrial setting.

Which is not any kind of proof that people weren't sewing their own knit underwear at home, of course.


Like the lack of wires into Roman ruins doesn't mean that Romans used cell phones…
@Rag. Gustavino Bevilacqua I think it's mostly Greek vases rather than Roman, but there is plenty of evidence that the ancients were using laptops rather than cell phones :D
depiction on a greek vase of somebody writing on a big waxed tablet that to modern eyes looks like a laptop
Fender Precision Lyre there
@u0421793 early model Toughbook in the background too.
@Simon Lucy thanks (and I will read those links — or at least the ones I havent' seen yet :) ), but I was thinking knit fabric, the kind that you buy in a flat length, cut, and sew up, rather than garments that are knit from yarn (and shaped with increases, decreases and similar techniques).
I realised that later :-), I'd still start with the V&A it's their thing. They have an API for searching their data the Research Group might respond to email.
@simon_lucy As well as the V&A there's also the Fashion Museum in Bath. Much smaller but you never know...
this post brought to you by me making a combination suit in a cotton knit using fully modern techniques (zig zag and 3-step zig zag) because it's underwear and nobody is going to see it, and my mind starting to wander off :D

@Dr Ms Cat Kat yes, knit fabric, I know of the knitting patterns for making underwear at home.

Or at least, I think that they are knit fabric, later today I'll look for the actual references, but I was thinking of knit underwear mentioned in mail order catalogues and books about healthy clothing.

@Dr Ms Cat Kat the things I was thinking of are like these: which I'm quite sure would have been made in an industrial setting.

Now that I look at them I'm not so sure that they would have been made from flat fabric and not directly on a knitting machine, but I think some sewing would have been involved (the front plackets, and the sleeves also look sewn in the drawings).

Anyway, this wouldn't really be relevant to making these things at home, except possibly for the availability (or not) of flat knit fabric (which may not have been a thing, if these things were knit directly?)

@Dr Ms Cat Kat the internet also provided me with (ad for an union suit, based on patents from 1868 and 1878)

attributed as September 1878 Catalog of Novelties and Specialties in Ladies and Children’s Underwear on (which I didn't read, I only looked at the pictures and captions), which does mention “the vest and drawers are in one, being knitted together in the process of manufacture, forming a continuous garment from the neck to the wrists and ankles”, but also has a cheaper variant that is “cut and seamed”

@David de Groot I have used herringbone stitch on knits (to sew binding) and I can confirm that it works, and @Dr Ms Cat Kat reports that backstitch and overcasting work.

I don't think that sewing with a straight stitch sewing machine would work (or at least it wouldn't be durable), however (I don't know about the earlier chainstitch machines, but afaik they weren't that common late in the 1800s).

@Dr Ms Cat Kat I know what I'm reading after I've finished the current book-on-the-phone :)
I have only come across knit fabrics within lists of materials used in an object. For example I imagine the wonderful dress and textiles people at The Museum of London might have information (in case you haven't already contacted them)
my focus is earlier so I don't have much first hand experience, and I realise my link was not the right one! Still, lots of textiles for personal making in London in the early 1900s so MofL might still be a good place to find stuff out.
This entry was edited (8 months ago)

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