Mid 19th c Tambour Embroidered Undersleeves 62.1999.14
The first Museum Monday of 2017 is lucky number 62! A fine early pair of embroidered lady's undersleeves. I love undersleeves~any lady could own a pair, and a lady of fashion would have several, even dozens of pairs. Undersleeves were worn, you guessed it, under the sleeve~ but not just the big bell sleeves folks usually think of. Undersleeves were a wardrobe necessity, and were worn as a barrier between ones skin and dress sleeve on both short and long sleeves and everywhere inbetween. Of coarse undersleeves provide the perfect canvas for a Lady of means to showcase her own hand embroidery, or super fine handwork hired out, if she was not so skilled, but heavy in the pocketbook!
This pair of sleeves measure 18" long and are hand embroidered with narrow casing at the top edge for drawstring. Some sleeves were tack stitched into the gowns they were worn with, but most were just tied high up on the arm with a drawstring.
I left the pictures large so you can click on them and enlarge to see details. Many fashion periodicals of the time included embroidery patterns for undersleeves in their publications. This set is unique from all the other sets I have~ at its cuff end is an embroidered frill gathered into a fixed embroidered band. By fixed, I mean, there is no button or hook/loupe adjustment~ it is a solid, 9" embroidered band.
The embroidery is wonderful and petite~ a tambour hook has been used to work the vines and flowers, and to outline all the circles one can see. The circles are filled with satin stitch, with flower centers being made into eyelets giving the whole flounce a light, airy feel.
Open centers of the flowers let a bit of skin show thru~
These sleeves are made of muslin~ muslin in the 19th c was very light and sheer~ not like the heavy coarse muslin we buy at the fabric store today.
Looking to the back of the undersleeve, we can appreciate the whole design of the embroidery~ these sleeves were not a cheap machine embroidered flounce hastily set into an insertion of the same....these sleeves were designed as sleeves~ with the fancy embroidery to the front, and to the back, the design tapers to a narrow edging to save precious time and thread for the worker.
Not only is the flounce its own shaped design, but so it the band~ looking at the center back seam we can see the embroidery was worked as a 9" band and then stitched together~ not cut down from a larger strip of embroidery.
A simple turned casing at the top ready for a drawstring ~