Last week we visited Winterthur, a du Pont family mansion (175 rooms, I believe) which is now a museum of American decorative arts. We toured one floor of the house, viewed the Betsy Ross exhibit, and wandered through the museum. One highlight for me was The Plimoth Jacket, which is on loan from Plimoth Plantation.
This jacket is a study in embroidery, based on two examples in the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. One example was chosen for the cut and construction of the jacket, the other for the embroidery design. Both originals date back to the 1620s.
At that time, this kind of jacket would have been made in a professional workshop. By re-creating one, we learn not only about the techniques and materials used but also about the time and number of people it might have taken and the kinds of skills required.
More than 300 people worked some 3,700 hours to create this jacket.
See the tiny “dots” all over the jacket? Those are teeny-tiny sequins which were manufactured as they would have been manufactured in 1620. There is delicate needle lace with oblong metal spangles around the edges and cuffs.
The making of the jacket, nicknamed “Faith,” is well-documented. The speech given at the Jacket Reveal is here, along with names of crafters and project leaders and some great pictures.
A blog was kept for the whole project, and it starts here. I went to the archives listed in the sidebar and began at the beginning in May 2007. If you click on that link, scroll to the bottom of the page for the May 15th post.
What a story! What a project! What an experience for those who participated! And what fun I had just getting to see the jacket.