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Wednesday, 6 January 2021

Some extant men's sleepwear from the King's Landing collection

In the autumn of 2019 I participated in an artist's residency at King's Landing, a historical site here in New Brunswick. During this time I was able to visit the building in which they store their collections, which include a quantity of 19th and early 20th century clothing! 
Not an era I'm usually inclined to sew things from, but it was fascinating to examine things up close, and I took a lot of pictures. (And then forgot about them for a year, even though I meant to blog about them. oops.)
Among the garments I got pictures of are these two nightgowns and one set of pyjamas. I think the nightgowns are either late 19th or early 20th century, and I don't know about the pyjamas but I'm guessing early 20th century?

Photos used with permission of King's Landing Corporation.

The first nightgown is a nice soft cotton twill, and has an interesting facing/placket thing down the front.
All 3 of these pieces are factory made, and sewn entirely by machine (with the exception of buttons). This one has a tag that says "London Town, Brand Size, Material of English make"
It has tapered sleeves.
With plain little sewn on cuffs on the ends, topstitched to the outside.
They don't have any closures, and were sewn on before the sleeve seam was closed.
The sleeve seam is sewn in one with the side seam, and felled. 
There's a diagonal bit of piecing on the sleeves, the same on both sides, which I'm assuming has to do with the cutting layout they used in the factory. 
(The cutter at my previous workplace had to add a bit of piecing in the crotches of trousers sometimes because it was just more economical that way.)
There's a patch pocket on the left side of the chest.
Here's the inside of the placket thing. 

It has two mother of pearl buttons and two vertical machine sewn buttonholes.
There's a pleat at the bottom of it, and the other nightgown doesn't have it, so I think it might be because of thee way this placket/facing thing is sewn. I'm not entirely sure though because I haven't tried to sew this one.
There's a yoke, which was sewn on after the front facings.
It's got a little pointy dip in the back.
The bottom is cut  relatively square, with rounded corners.
It's got a tiny little machine hem.
And gussets at the sides.
They're little diamond shapes folded in half and machine sewn in.
Some of the topstitching and such is done with a lockstitch, but these felled construction seams are chain stitch! (note the thicker line of stitching on the inside and the little tail of chained thread) This is something you still see in factory made garments today! The same is true of the pyjamas. And I think the second nightgown too, though I didn't get as many pictures of the inside of that one.
The bottom of the placket as seen from the inside.


The yoke.
The second nightgown is also made of a nice soft cotton twill, and is extremely similar in construction, with the main difference being that it has a 2 piece collar and a normal placket down the front.
It's nearly identical to the nightgowns in this 1897 Sears Roebuck catalogue.
And this 1901 Eaton's catalogue. (These are re-prints that my uncle gave me, thank you Uncle Sandy!)
One interesting detail is both of these mention them being cut 54 inches long, and this nightgown measured exactly 54 inches long.
This nightgown has a yoke too, but with a box pleat in the back and no pointy dip.
Here's the collar and collar stand.
The hem is the same sort of square shape with rounded corners, but this one's a bit longer in the back while the other one isn't.
It has two vertical machine sewn buttonholes on the placket and one horizontal one on the collar stand, all with mother of pearl buttons.

There are two rows of topstitching on the collar, and the placket. 
And the same on the top edge of the cuffs, which are sewed on and turned to the outside the same way the cuffs on the first nightgown are.

The sleeves on this one are also sewn closed in one with the side seams, and felled.
As you can see here, the cuffs were understitched before 
being sewn down to the outside.

No piecing on the sleeves this time.
It has a breast pocket on the left side, very similar to the first one, but the corners at the top are angled inwards.
The inside of the pocket.

The last of the 3 items is this lovely set of blue and white striped pyjamas, and I haven't done any research to find pictures of similar pyjamas so can't date them with any certainty. I'm just going to make a vague, general guess of "early 20th century". 
Like the other two, they're a nice soft cotton, but this time it's a plain weave with woven stripes in two different shades of blue.
The bottoms are very simple and have a drawstring waistband and a fly overlap without any buttons. 
There's no separate waistband, the top is simply folded and stitched down to form a channel for the drawstring.

As with the nightgowns, it's all machine sewn.
The seams are machine felled and the hems done by machine too. 
There are only inseams and a crotch seam, nothing at the sides. 
Looks like the hems were sewn before the leg seams!

The top has a facing along the front edges, and a triangular facing at the back of the neck, both topstitched down by machine.
The sleeves are the same sort of simple tapered ones, and have cuffs much like the first nightgown, but sewn down to the inside like a facing. I'm guessing this is to avoid the extra trouble of matching up the stripes.
There's an asymmetrical front overlap and it closes with 4 (plastic?) buttons. (The top button is missing but there were 4 originally.)
The front facing has some interesting piecing!

Here we can see that the front facing was topstitched down
and then the top was hemmed.

And here it looks like the shoulder seam was sewn & felled
before the triangular back facing was sewn down.

Same all in one side & sleeve seam construction!

The overlap has 4 horizontal machine sewn buttonholes.


And they have little decorative loops of braid sewn around them, also by machine.

And there's a breast pocket, very similar to the other two.
I wish I'd gotten more photos of a few bits, but I think I've covered the construction well enough to replicate! I hope this is helpful for anyone looking to sew early 20th century men's sleepwear.

I didn't actually take patterns off these garments because I didn't have all the proper supplies with me, but I did take a lot of measurements of the nightgowns, and have drafted a pattern fairly close to the collared one. I've sewn it up up once in blue flannel, and have two more cut out, so I will blog about it once all 3 are sewn up. I'm behind on blogging but I'll try to get caught up and do my year in review post quickly!

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