tv Colonial Williamsburg Costume Design Center CSPAN January 2, 2016 10:00am-10:26am EST
-- c-span3. announcer: each week, "american artifacts" takes you to museums and historic places. next, we go behind the scenes of colonial williamsburg's costume design center for historical clothing. brenda: my name is brenda russo -- rosseau and i managed the costume design center in colonial williamsburg. we maintain items for the 900 people we have in costume. it is actually about 600 in about 1400 different positions. this is the operations room, and this is the largest section of our facility. in here, the division of labor is one supervisor, two pattern
makers, two first hands, and the rest of the people are tailors. we build, alter, and maintain all the garments for all the historic employees with the exception of those who work in taverns. maintaining includes laundering and dry cleaning for them. this rack right here is for pickup. generally, when you come to work here, you will get an allotment based on what it is you do. and how you do it. it is about 60-65 articles of clothing. we clothe you from head to toe. the average allotment is worth about $4000, so it is quite an investment. here, we have two outfits manufactured in this building.
right here is a fife and drum uniform. we have a large juvenile court -- corps. so the colors are reversed. you have a red regimental with blue facings. these were redesigned in 2008 for the 50th anniversary of the fife and corps in this is based -- and this is based on an antique. here we have a digitally reproduced painted silk, the origin was probably china. the original garment was in our collection and is made into a down. gown.wn -- we headed photographed. the antique photographed in we sent it to new york to be digitally printed onto this silk. this is a garment that we made for special events.
we had somebody portraying lady dunmore for a day and we built this for her. >> can you tell us about how clothing would have been different for the different classes of williamsburg? brenda: business attire in the 18th century wood has been a three-piece suit. that is true from 1660-1960 in -- and the only thing that changes is the length of the various components. the coat got shorter the , waistcoat got shorter and the breaches got longer. these components would have been available to all strata of society in colonial williamsburg but in different qualities and fabrics and finishes. >> how about for women? brenda: the division of labor is interesting. generally, men's garments are flat patterned and manufactured by tailors. women's garments are draped onto
a form. and then sewn to fit the specific body. again, the forms would have been very similar. it would have been probably a constructive or tight upper body garment. she would have been stayed with -- which is the basic undergarment, what we call a corset. there was a petticoat. the ideal women's silhouette was a cone perched on an ellipse. that is the fashionable silhouette. dress is based on a number of things, we do now in -- regionality, occupation, and personal choice. a variety of textiles and fabrics would have been available to the residents of williamsburg, both domestic manufacturing and imported from england. >> how would somebody have gone about getting these clothes?
brenda there are a number of : ways. we know that there is a lot of remaking of items. you can purchase things ready-made, there is a huge ready-to-wear business in the 18th century. generally, things like shirts, things that are multi-side here -- multi-sized. you can have something custom made for you. we know -- and other in southern colonies, in south carolina, there is a huge tradition of used clothing. we assume that takes place in virginia, but the documentation is not as readily available. >> can you show us some of the other parts of the shop? brenda: let's take a look at our warehouse. now we are in our warehouse , which is where all things are initiated. we have three reproduced textiles. this is the painted silk that i
showed you downstairs, which is actually -- the design was from a french fashion plate. but the textile is again one that is in our collection. this is also a digitally reproduced textile, a linen that was photographed onto the textile and then the backing is washed off. and this is actually a reproduction of a garment that survives at the national museum of american history, the smithsonian. it is from a coat that was originally owned by benjamin franklin that he purchased in paris. this is a silk. silk, a silk, and a linen. there are a lot of buttons on men's attire, not so much women's. what you see are a series of reproduction buttons that we have.
this particular button is for military british regimental. and this was actually cast by a company in rhode island. these are livery buttons. livery is the attire of servants. and in the 18th century, you could display your wealth on her -- your back and show how wealthy you were by dressing your servant in matching livery and generally the cover is based on some thing in your armorial crest. these are memorial crest buttons. and for lord dunmore, who was the last world governor of when we did the livery , for this service. these are probably wrong. because there have been no --
after we did this, and we got gift money to do these, i discovered that there are no armorial crest buttons discovered archaeologically in virginia. we know that dunmore ordered blue cloth, brown cloth, and silver tape, silver lace and silver buttons for his livery. we know the materials arrived, but we do not know who made them up or what it looked like after it was made up. these buttonss are interesting. these buttons ago on a general -- buttons go on a general officer's coat. -- it is a cast button, made by a vendor in the united kingdom. it is interesting because it kind of copies with buttons look like in the 18th century. which would have been cast and crimped over bone. this is a polymer.
bear -- they would have been a there.hank in now these buttons are actually perfect for the 18th century in ,- and these, in current times were manufactured for us by a company in colorado, but they are dead on perfect for buttons that we matched up to a garment that we re-created that is currently in the metropolitan museum of art. then for embroidered buttons, and embroidered waistcoat, this is all done by machine, and then they would be covered by -- so this a be the result. -- this would be a result. they would go over a wooden form. all of our stock materials are
in this room. it is very, very, very difficult to find items -- i can tell you -- that are appropriate to the 18th century. this up here we get from a manufacturer in the united kingdom. these are all for fife and drum uniforms, so they have to match. and we ordered quite a few yards so we only have to do a lot every 5-6 years. then we have prints here. ts are very popular in the 18th century. we use natural fibers appropriate for the time, will, linen, some hemp, cotton, and silk. that is what we are limited to. but it issome blends,
a very slight blend, less than 5%. we try not to use any acrylic fibers because they are dangerous. they melt, and that of burn. this is excessive ease. ccessories.ies -- a these are traditional 18th century menswear. all of the little pieces that make up a wardrobe. the majority of things you see on this table are actually built in this room. this is a market bonnet. we call that a market bonnet. here, you can see a depiction. we have one of the few surviving examples of these. they are depicted -- you see lots of depictions of them in the 18th century but very few survive. i think we have the only
surviving example in collection. so what we did was we took a pattern off of it -- i say we -- it was done before i got here -- they took a pattern off of it and then they did a reproduction. now, it is not terribly accessible because it is permanently mounted so we can not check our measurements to make sure it is pretty close. it is pretty close to the depiction. this is based on a pair in the nature. this would have been worn underneath a woman's gown and it is essentially storage. it is a large purse. this is the hat that was made in this room by melissa sitting right over here. it is based on a depiction from an english fashion, this is the one that was worn by the lady that played lady dunmore.
this jewelry was made for us by a jewelry maker who does reproduction jewelry in marblehead, massachusetts, based on a surviving example in massachusetts and was actually owned by the wife of the last royal governor of massachusetts. this is a reproduction worn on the upper body and it would be pinned. a reproduction in our collection . and then, we have shoes. men's shoes. these are made here, not in this building but by colonial , williamsburg shoemakers. women's shoes were made in the united kingdom. these are a new adaptation for a -- us done by a company out of las vegas. they call this the dunmore and they are for sale in our shop.
what it is supposed to do is it is supposed to look like a calomanco shoe. that is a wool product in the 18th century. washington ordered them for martha yearly. at least 5-6 pairs usually. so we know they are being warned by all strata of society. this is a reproduction of a set of epaulets which go on what are now shoulder boards in the modern military. and they are a sign of rank. these are reproductions of ones that are currently held by the yorktown victory center which is right down the road in yorktown, virginia. we have a large portion of our programming has to do with the military and the revolution so
, within the past 20 years, we have really increased our military presence and our knowledge of military history and military dress. hats. we get the is as blanks, so it would just be -- do you have one? not unlike this. this has been -- which has been cut down. it would have had a larger brim. thank you. which would have had a larger brim, and then it is steamed and molded into place just like in the 18th century. here is one. perfect. these are the raw materials in the 18th century. it would have been made from a -- this is a primarily a wall -- -- wool. it could have been made from rabbit and/or beaver fur and a mixture of wool.
project by started a where she had most of thomas jefferson's surviving clothing come to colonial williamsburg where it was studied and reproduced and then sent back to its respective museums. here, we have a bobcat lined hat . it is a reproduction of one owned by thomas jefferson that somehow ended up in a los angeles county museum of natural history. jefferson -- we know from jefferson -- a lot of his clothing survives, which is wonderful because you have the opportunity to study at. jefferson, from what i discovered, was not a natty dresser. there are a couple of things that survived at monticello that were repaired. something that you would not expect on items owned by the president of the united states. he also suffered from cold his
-- and do the fitting that way. this is a depiction of four gentleman in a rhode island regiment in gator trousers or overalls and so what is this garment? fortunately, we were able to find a surviving parent. -- pair at the metropolitan museum and what you see on your , right is a reproduction of that particular pair of gator trousers that are at the metropolitan. we went up there. we studied them. we patterned them. this is all -- and photographed them, copious photographed then -- photographs of them, and this is a schematic of what it is we found and what we saw. how it went together, the stitches, how many stitches per inch, the textile, the constriction, the order of construction. all of that is copied on here. then we came back and did a reproduction of the garment and that is a reproduction using hand techniques.
it is all done by hand in the 18th century manner. then we digitize it on that digitizing board which is our system, and finally, built a prototype by machine. i would love to be able to practice it all by hand but unfortunately, we do need to use modern construction method s because of the volume that we have to create. this is the prototype. we fit into -- fitted it on a number of people and it works really well. it's amazing how it solves in some problems -- originally what we had been doing a shaping it in the back of the ankle with tax. we found that in the 18th century one of the related solutions isenious
at the inseam actually -- all of the shaping is done in the inseam because the out scene is straight and that answered a lot of questions. here we have a british general officer's uniform. this was actually, the buttons on this are the buttons that i showed you upstairs, the ones that are cast very similar to the antique. all of this embroidery is machine embroidered on that machine over there. there are several of these that survived. they are easy to study. but they were constructed in house. and then we have the epaulets which i am not going to be but a get off here. there we go. these were actually embroidered in pakistan but we do have the ability to do this here now and again it was all by machine. this is an adaptation of a court suit we have in the collection. this would have been very formal attire. they are called court suits and would have been worn at court.
this particular one is generally worn by the person who portrays lord dunmore. we know that there are surviving american court suits in south carolina. there was one that was owned by a media that survives -- a native that survives in the charleston museum of art so it is not that they are not being worn, they just don't seem to survive. this is another one of the jefferson project, this is a great coat that is now in the collection of the los angeles county museum of natural history. this was done in 1991, machine embroidered. and it is great because it fits our current thomas jefferson. when people come here for a tour, i think they are really surprised by the complexity of the operation, the fact that we use modern equipment but we are trying to give the impression of the past because clothing is a strong cultural marker, you
know? not only is it regional, it is very personal, as well. and it is an indication of who you are, now and in the 18th century. >> how has the clothing changed during the time that colonial williamsburg has existed? brenda: originally, that is an interesting question. originally, the first costume here was our over 20 of for the , 1934 dedication of the duke of gloucester street. the first people in costume with the six hostesses. whereriod they depicted the 1740's to 1750's. it was so popular that by november 5, james koger and the restoration architects decided that all the hostesses and all
the exhibition buildings should be in period attire and from then to now, 81 years, with the exception of six months during world war ii when rationing prohibited the use of every reproduction of clothing, we have had people in historic dress. the way it has changed is we now view -- view these items as material culture and a something teaches,ething that that tells about the society, rather than just to create on so i think that is a major shift in that happens in the 70's and 80's, long before i got here. that is the major change. now it is a way to teach about the past. announcer: you can watch this and other "american artifacts" programs by visiting our
website. coming up next, seven history professors discuss the state of the field for labor and working class history in the west. they also explore some of the primary labor forces in the western states including agriculture and mining could this panel was a part of the 2015 conference in portland, oregon. it is about one hour 30 minutes. >> good morning, everyone. thank you very much for joining us on a slightly overcast day. it is my great pleasure to welcome you to the 2015 western history association conference roundtable conversation on the state of the field for labor history and western history and working class history. the selection of labor historians, one that we love, betsy prompted the creation of