In the 18th century, women wore mitts with open fingers to allow them to utilize their hands. In the 21st century, the need to use our hands hasn’t changed. But the “work” we need to complete has—all thanks to the digital age and touch screens. What if you could have the best of both worlds?
If you’re like me, you’re constantly checking your phone. And sadly, there aren’t too many options to keep your hands warm while freeing up your fingers to text, check Facebook and Twitter, or make calls. Your basic options are to wear traditional gloves and remove them, buy the specialty gloves specifically designed to work with smart phones, or get creative! That’s right. I’m going to show you how to make your very own set of colonial mitts.
In the 18th century, mitts were common accessories most women could afford. They served a dual purpose. Not only did they allow your fingers to be free which made work easier, but they also filled the gap from your wrist to elbow. At the time, it was fashionable for sleeves to end at the elbow, and the mitts were worn to keep the rest of a lady’s arm covered to protect her against the elements. To keep her actual fingers warm, she would usually wear a matching muff.
But women wore mitts during all seasons. In the winter, they were made of thicker, warmer material such as wool and in the summer they were made of a much lighter, cooler linen. The purpose in the winter was to protect against the cold air and in the summer, to protect against the sun.
About 1/4 Yard of fabric (I used white fleece, but any material and color will work)
About 1/8 Yard of accent fabric
Thread (I used embroidery thread because it is thicker)
- Cut the pattern out
- Trace or pin the pattern to the fleece
- Cut the pattern out of the fleece
- Fold the mitt over (Make sure the thumb is on the correct side for the hand you are sewing)
- Sew the edges, I used a tight blanket stitch
- Trace the triangle flap onto the accent fabric and cut out
- Sew the triangle accent piece onto the inside of the mitt
- Cut out the thumb piece
- This is the trick part, sew the thumb piece together around your thumb and into the hole
- Wear the finished mitts to keep your arm and hands warm
I tested my homemade colonial mitts on the coldest day yet this winter (20°) and I’d say they worked pretty well!
Want to learn more about 18th-century fashion? Check out this article with a complete glossary of terms for men, women, and children.