I’m closing out my series of posts about my recent visit to Colonial Williamsburg with pictures from my visit to the Weaver’s Shop and the Tailor.
If you’re familiar with eighteenth and nineteenth century English history, you know that some of the political unrest of the time stemmed from the industrialization of the weaving trade. In earlier times, skilled weavers worked out of homes or small shops. Seeing a Colonial Williamsburg weaver hard at work on one of the shop’s two looms gave me a good picture of what life might have been like for the weavers who populate historical novels.
On the day we visited, the weaver was making diaper cloth. This is a sturdy diamond patterned twill weave, not the kind of weave used for cloth baby diapers. Weaving such a complicated pattern requires attention to detail and a great deal of physicality and coordination. The weaver slid the shuttle rapidly back and forth meanwhile controlling the pattern with the foot peddles visible in the picture.
If you follow my blog, you know that one of my hobbies is sewing, so I loved the Tailor. Here he is in this picture hard at work making buttons.
I asked about his distinctive head wear, and he explained the Asian influences on seventeenth and eighteenth century men’s fashions (including his turban). The three-piece suit, for example, came from Turkey, and the banyan is a Persian-influenced man’s dressing gown.
He also explained the difference between a tailor and a modiste or mantua-maker. The tailor worked from patterns, while the modiste created designs by draping fabric. I’ve never heard this distinction before.
What I missed: The Milliner and Mantua Maker
I was SO disappointed that this shop was closed on the day we visited Colonial Williamsburg. The Two Nerdy History Girls (Loretta Chase and Susan Holloway Scott) often blog about visits to this Colonial Williamsburg shop and it was my one must-see shop. Alas, I’ll have to go back!
If you want to know more about the Millinery Shop and the history of this field of business, here’s a fascinating article from about twenty years ago. Enjoy!
All images are the author’s.