Monday, 30 May 2011

Week 22 - Fashion of the past - "Tailoring"

We are shaped and fashioned by what we love
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

 Portrait of a Lady ('La Dama in Rosso'), about 1556-60
by Giovanni Battista Moroni
National Gallery, London

 Giovanni Battista Moroni, c.1525, Albino - 1778, Bergamo,
was a North Italian painter of the Late Renaissance period.
He is also called Giambattista Moroni.
Best known for his elegantly realistic portraits of the local nobility and clergy,
he is considered one of the great portrait painters of sixteenth century Italy.

 The Gentleman in Pink, 1560
Palazzo Moroni, Bergamo

 Woman in a Red Dress, c. 1560
Gemaeldegalerie Dresden, Germany

Portrait of a Soldier, 1555-59
Museo del Prado, Madrid

The Tailor, 1570-1575
Giovanni Battista Moroni's The Tailor - a portrait of a man in cream doublet and red hose,
looking steadily and sensitively out of the picture as he poses, scissors in hand,
to cut a piece of black cloth - is one of the greatest paintings in the National Gallery, London.


by Irene Musillo Mitchell
Written in honor of her father, Michael Angelo Musillo,
who was born in 1899 in Motescaglioso (Basilicata), Italy.
He emigrated to America in 1920; he lived in the Bronx,
and died on August 13, 1956.

Here two stanzas from the poem:

I am a tailor from the old world.
My craft is dying.  Each tailor who goes is an end - let it be.
The old world is crumbling; there is no place in the new,
For the honored work, of an old humanity:

For the slow, patient labor of a simpler day;
For the personal, the fine work, detail - feeling becomes form;
And what is a man but his touch, his expressiveness through his metier.

The old customer who understood quality, goods, design,
Who was pleased with fastidious workmanship is passing away.
The new, accustomed to facsimile, duplicate, the ready-made,
Dulled by the prevalence of mediocrity is unable to evaluate.

He wears my coat but he is wanting in stature; his measure is small:
The new world extolling mechanical power has minimized him.
But my work is rooted in traditions affirming his unlimited potential.

My coat is cut to the man, his tone, his stance, his gesture -
The man at his best.  Stitches, darts, facing develop a theme.
Seams join, hems turn, the iron defines - a world is configurated:
I shape my life into design, the tailor and the boy who dreamed....

Brioni School still life

I am a tailor from the old world.
My craft is dying.  Each tailor who goes is an end - let it be.

Declining, caught between modernity and its won flickering light;
Understanding progress, non-comprehending its willingness to subdue humanity;
Man, individual endeavor, its measure of the significance of life:

An opus mastered, a flawless coat - man bringing into form:
The children hand in hand on Easter morning,
In suits that poured from me like a fevered song:

Non-comprehending its willingness to efface diversity,
To integrate cultures into wholes without quality,
without color, without scope:
I am the cobblestone street in the ancient world,
The boy intoning Latin absorbing the old church modes.

(I find this very true and touching)


  A documantery on Italian Master Tailors


The Old Tailor
Photo by Mehmet Akim


The "new" Old Tailor
..."Mark Hutter works by the light of the window"...

The Colonial Williamsburg Official History Site

  The art of cutting
The word "tailoring" means "the art of cutting" in many languages, and indeed,
it is the cut of the fabric that makes...... read more  here


Ready for "tailoring"

Old French Farmers Linen from the 19th Century

Chanvre - pure hemp - dyed in a kind of dark grey, coarse weave

suitable for pillows, upholstery, table runners, other small projects, or...and...

Chanvre - pure hemp - here in a kind of medium grey

 left hand side: pure linen with hemp in a kind of light grey (not blueish, fine to medium weave)
on the right: Chanvre - pure hemp in a earth color - beige, see photo below


 Top: Linen with hemp in light grey (not blueish)
middle and bottom: pure hemp

 this photo shows nearly the right color of the linen with hemp(bottom piece)
The mesurement of this sheet: about 100" long by circa 75" wide, with center seem, all hand stitched
Weight: 1,8 Kg  -  suitable for all kind of projects...pillows, curtains, napkins, table cloth......

and cloths like blouses, trousers......

 here again nearly the right color - its so difficult to photograph natural linen!
(the photo is a close-up, the weave is fine to medium!)
To give an idea about the quality: The weight of a sheet this size in pure hemp will be around 2 to 2,3 Kg

to be continued.....slowly but surely!

From the catalogue of  the Mutual Tailor Company of Chicago, 1916
(source: internet)


Bonne Semaine!


  1. Hello,

    This is again a perfect blogspot! what do you do with all this lovely linens, selling them or is it just as decoration in your home?

    Have a nice week to

  2. Hello again,

    I want just say thet i love the paintings.


  3. Jerôme, the linen is for sale!
    Merci beaucoup pour - toujours - les commentaires!

  4. How funny Karin, no not your post but the book, I have that book for my business since it illustrates a lot of textiles. I love the clothing from back then but I could never wear it myself, to many layers and looks hot! I see you’re torturing me again with grey linens and here I haven’t had the time to try my hand at dyeing the linen you sent me. A beautiful post Karin and I hope you’re enjoying your day!

  5. Oh, Karin! What a lovely post! Dying arts, indeed. I have sewn from early childhood, a gift from my grandmother, great aunt and my mother. And now, as a painter, I love to imagine old world dressing, daily life in those times and those who could afford to engage a portrait painter. Yesterday's photos...Fabulous post!
    Thank you, Chris

  6. Eine Ode an die Schneiderkunst!

    Lieber Gruß!

  7. karin HOW WONDERFUL my kind of post loved all of it and all the details its a pity the London tailor which i know well didnt materialise ! blogger again ! your gray linens aredelicious wish i had somewhere to use them the slevves etc on those dresses mmmmm
    Love fay xxx grazie tanti

  8. I think what I love about your photos is the various textures that you combine. The linens and fabrics against the stone walls and weathered wood and flowers and foliage. And their colors.


  9. Wow, Karin - this is such an interesting post, with so many layers. I so enjoyed the poem and watching clips from the film you linked to. And your photos of linens are just so beautiful - I can't think of words to do them justice! I agree with Ann that it's the combination of different textures, but it's also your styling that makes these photos stunning. Thank you!

  10. Thanks for another beautiful post. my Sister sews a lot, so I will make sure she sees this. Have a great day. Richard at My Old Historic House

  11. Dear Karin, You are an artist in the way you style your photographs. I agree with Ann, she said it best.

  12. Dearest Karin, the linens are simply perfect! The colors are beautiful. Can't wait to see more! Angela

  13. So exciting to see the beautiful pieces of your dyed linen up close...can almost feel it! You tell a wonderful story, can't wait 'till the next chapter! XO Trish