Civil War Civilian Living History

Interpreting the American Civil War Home Front

Genteel Arts: Silk Mantle

In October, I attended Carolann Schmitt’s Genteel Arts class, an Elegant Silk Mantle.

“This elegant and graceful mantle is copied from an original garment in the instructor’s collection. It is made of unlined silk taffeta, is shaped over the shoulders with piped seams, falls to the lower hip, and has a curved lower edge. Lace edging accents the center front edges and the neckline. The bottom of the mantle is accented with a wide band made from rows of braid insertion alternating with strips of self-fabric pleated in alternating directions; the outer edge of the band is finished with lace edging. The placement and shaping of the trim creates the illusion of a sleeve.

Oh so much fun!! The class was held, not at the usual Gettysburg location, but in New Oxford in a classroom of Cross Keys Village. This worked out well for me as my mother and son were visiting at this time and we were able to stay in one of the Village’s cottages for less than two rooms in Gettysburg. The room is smaller than the fire station space in Gettysburg, but worked well with no drawbacks that I experienced.

The mantle we were working from is from Carolann’s collection. The pattern was drafted by Maggie Koenig. My mantle is of a yellowish silk taffeta. When I purchased the silk I expected it to be less yellow as the color was called “lamb’s wool”, but the yellow works. The mantle is constructed of three pieces, two front panels and a back panel.

I really wasn’t sure how I wanted to trim the mantle. I had purchased about 15 yards of a short silk trimming from Needle and Thread a few months before. That was my start.

Another student in the class had some black silk organza that she did not plan to use so I used the organza in place of the lace and placed the fringe trimming above that and narrow silk velvet trim above the fringe . This is a front panel.

The yellow piece between the black organza pieces is really a cool treatment. Basically it is a strip of fabric, pin tucked and then the centers tacked down in the opposite direction.

Here is close up of Carolann’s original.

The mantle is not yet finished; however, one front panel is completed with organza and tucked piece. The back will also be trimmed with the organza and tucked strips. Once the organza and tucked pieces are added to the entire garment, my intention is to trim around the front edges and along the top of the last tucked piece with the short silk fringe trimming. I have purchased antique black knotted fringe that I will then apply to the bottom edges all the way around the of the mantle.

I think it will be lovely; check back off and on for my progress.

Categories: Civil War, classes, Living History, sewing