18th Century Women’s Mitts

Cloth mitts

  • Met 2009.300.2673a, b, embroidered silk, Britain, first quarter of the 18th century; “the design on these mitts is worked in a naturalistic style with the use of gradated color that adds depth and richness to the motifs. As an extra luxurious detail, the underside of the V-shaped extension, which would not have been visible, carries its own delicate floral embroidery.”
  • A pattern for embroidering mitts (also here) in Kunst-und Fleiss-übende Nadel-Ergötzungen, c. 1725
  • Met 2009.300.2676, velvet-covered leather with metal-thread embroidery, Britain, c. 1680-1720
  • Met 2009.300.2674a, b, silk with metal-thread embroidery, Britain, c. 1680-1720
  • MFA 38.1329a,b, embroidered velvet, Italy; “Black velvet with crimson velvet turned back cuffs. The mitts and ruffles embroidered with gold thread in rococo floral pattern. Trimmed with gold bobbin lace.”
  • MFA 38.1331a,b, embroidered velvet, Italy; “Black velvet embroidered with silver (conventionalized vine and fruit, border and over hand). Lined with bright salmon pink silk. Open; six small buttons on one mitt, five on other.”
  • MFA 38.1332a,b, embroidered velvet, Italy; “Black velvet embroidered with gold thread, and lined with deep reddish orange silk. Embroidered motif on flap over hand alike on face and reverse. Mitts not fastened, on one three button-holes on each side, on other similar button-holes and six small buttons.”
  • Met 26.56.104 and Met 26.56.105, Italy, c. 1750-1775
  • MFA 38.1355a,b, Italy, “Black velvet embroidered with silver (rococo floral border and floral motif in center). Lined with salmon, green, white, silver and gold brocade. Open, no fastenings.”
  • MFA 43.1972a,b, Italy, “Black silk velvet embroidered with gilt-silver yarns and wires in vining motif on flap and cuff. Gilt-silver galloon at edges and button-holes, gilt-silver buttons. Pink silk lining.”
  • Met C.I.44.8.5a, b
  • Met C.I.44.8.17a, b, silk
  • Met C.I.44.8.7a, b, silk
  • MFA 38.1340a,b, probably Italy; “Pinkish orange silk with cuffs of cream colored silk damask trimmed with gold thread worked in chains and sewed to mitts.”
  • MFA 38.1346a,b, child’s mitts, Italy; “Pair of crimson silk mitts. Design: conventionalized flowers and foliage, embroidered with gold thread and spangles, on back of each hand, and around fingers and thumbs. Lined with linen, point over fingers lined with crimson velvet.”
  • Colonial Williamsburg 1985-216,1-2, England, c. 1760-1780; “Pair of mitts (fingerless gloves) in cream silk taffeta, ribbed tabby weave, lined with white leather. The mitts have a point over the hand that could be folded back to reveal blue silk lining. Set-in thumb cut off at tip, serpentine open work band at underside of arm for expansion. Blue silk needlework herringbone stitch edgings. Cut on bias of silk … The embroidery on these mitts has a useful as well as decorative function. The stretchy fagoting and herringbone stitches hold the pieces together while providing ease for pulling the mitts on and off.”
  • MFA 38.1338a,b, probably Italy; “Blue silk trimmed with bright pink silk and embroidered with flowers worked in long and short stitch with pink, blue, green, and yellow silk and tarnished metal thread.”
  • Met C.I.44.8.8a, b, silk
  • Met C.I.44.8.18a, b, silk
  • GCT 23448 + A, “A ladies’ pair of yellow taffeta silk mittens, cut on the bias to give stretch, circa 1750-70, elbow length with flap over knuckles, with flounced and pinked upper openings, the thumb and shaped hand cover delicately embroidered with leaf bands and cross hatching in silver thread, s-shaped opening to the under-arm and palm with silver thread lattice threads, 32 cm long.”
  • A pair of fine white cotton mitts, c. 1750-1800, in Fitting & Proper
  • Met 2009.300.2130a, b, cotton, Britain, c. 1770
  • MFA 44.367a,b (undated); white cotton
  • Colonial Williamsburg 2009-43, 6 A-B, a pair of white cotton mitts from a family of Philadelphia Quakers, c. 1785-1840
  • LACMA M.80.43.4a-b, linen with silk embroidery, probably made in India for the Western market, c. 1700-1725
  • Met C.I.44.8.9a, b, linen
  • MFA 43.1968a,b (undated); light brown linen
  • Karen Augusta 2433, embroidered mitts, America, c. 1790-1800; “Unbleached cotton muslin, tan embroidery floss, metallic thread, brass spangles, silk ribbons … Trailing floral design is delicately embroidered in a tambour stitch embellished with tiny spangles.”
  • MFA 38.1236, Italy or France, 18th or early 19th century; “Pair of changeable taffeta, with delicate wreath of flowers embroidered around hand, and sprig of flowers on back of hand, worked with green and pink silk and tarnished sequins. Feather stitch in cream colored silk around hand and thumb.”
  • V&A T.30&A-1973, Britain, c. 1780-1800; “A pair of women’s elbow-length mittens in yellow taffeta with gusset thumb and point at back of the hand. The seams are embroidered over in herringbone stitch with white silk. The points are raised with outline stitch in white silk.”
  • MFA 38.1263, yellow taffeta mitt, probably France, late 18th or early 19th century
  • MFA 43.1969a,b (undated); satin embroidered with white silk

Knit mitts

  • Met 2009.300.2675, silk and metal thread, late 17th century; “Knitted in the round with no seams, this mitt is among a finite number of extant 17th century silk and metallic knit objects. Fine workmanship was required to incorporate the rigid metallic yarns into the silk stockinette without distorting the pattern. The brocade lining at top of this piece adds both beauty and stability to the knitted extension.”
  • MFA 38.1335a,b, Italy, 17th century; “probably ecclesiastical. Knitted silk with polychrome design of conventional carnation motif on flap and upper arm, decorative bands along bottom with letters on white ground.”
  • GCT 23416 + A, “A pair of knitted silk/cotton elbow length finger-less ladies mittens, late 17th - early 18th century, with separately worked thumb section, the arm section knitted in the round, worked in pink and green with bold flowering plant sprouting carnations, honeysuckle amid small birds and the initials MX, RS, RM, RI M, the other hand initialled HN, PF, RI, M, blue zig-zag bracelet band and outer cuff band, the plain hand sections with seam at thumb and side, 32 cm long.(although one side of the hand has a fully cast off section, the upper half does not which suggests that they originally had peaked finger covers which were removed, adapted).”
  • Colonial Williamsburg 1991-555, knit cotton mitts, England, c. 1700
  • GCT 23417 + A, “A pair of ladies’ knitted mittens, probably Italian, early 18th century, unlined, knitted in silk/cotton mix in fine stocking stitch, with large carnation and pomegranate repeats in yellow, white and green on a pink lilac/ground, 37 cm long.”
  • GCT 233402 + A, “A pair of knitted silk and gold thread ladies’ fingerless mittens, probably circa 1730-50, with prominently inset thumb sections, the pointed finger guards lined with heavy silk and gold brocade fragments, 17 cm long.”
  • MFA 38.1234, Italy; “Openwork knitting in coral colored silk with flap of plain knitting over hand. Lined with brocade (silver, gold, green and coral). Three lines of gold embroidery on back of hand.”
  • “217. KNITTING MITTS. For the greateſt quantity of Mitts made of thread, in imitation of lace, and made with knitting-needles, fit for womens wear; not leſs than one dozen pair; each pair to be not leſs than fourteen inches in length, made by one perſon; the goodneſs, clearneſs, and fineneſs of the work, and beauty of the pattern, to determine the preference; Twenty Guineas. The whole ſum to be divided in proportion to the merit; to be produced on or before the firſt Tueſsday in January, 1766.” (Museum rusticum et commerciale, Premiums offered by the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce, for Encouraging and Improving Manufactures)
  • A pair of stützl knit of black wool with metallic pattern; see also votive wax effigy from Kaufbeuren, 1776
  • MFA 99.664.18a-b, a pair of mitts, possibly made in England (worn in Lexington, Massachusetts), late 18th century; “Frame-knitted silk lined with silk satin and trimmed with silk cord … Knitted black mitts with vertical openwork bands; black cord trim at finger and thumb openings, fringe at arm opening; flap lined with black silk satin”
  • Karen Augusta 2432, knit mitts of unbleached flax thread, America, 1787; “An intricate repeat of diamonds and interlocking parallel bars makes up the body of the pattern. Each mitt's top border has a knit monogram and date worked into it: ‘R M R 1787’.”
  • DAR 99.72.2, a pair of green silk mitts repurposed from a pair of silk stockings; “The feet have been cut off and some of their fabric has been used to make the thumbs; the openings are bound with matching green silk satin ribbon. The striped tops of the stockings have been retained.”

Lace mitts

Leather mitts

  • GCT 23458 + A, “A pair of ladies’ long, shaped fingerless mittens, circa 1700-1715, of kid leather grain outside, overstitched hand and thumb edges and with decorative silk running stitch, the mittens of extremely long, narrow form widening at the armholes, barely visible rows of pointing stitches and floss silk embroidered birds to the pointed finger guards, lined in green silk, 44 cm long.”
  • GCT 23459 + A, “A ladies’ pair of long white kid leather fingerless mittens, grain side out, circa 1700-1715, of extremely long and narrow shape, of softest white kid, the knuckles adorned with three simple rows of vertical stitching, the pointed flaps worked with silver thread in long and short stitch with flower sprays, edged and lined in pale blue silk, 43 cm long.”
  • MFA C.I.44.8.27a, b, embroidery on lining of flap
  • MFA 43.1966a,b (undated), “Pair of brown leather mitts, bird and flowers embroidered with polychrome silks on back of hand.”
  • MFA 43.1973 (undated); “Single dark brown leather mitt, polychrome silk embroidered flowers on back of hand.”

Depictions of girls and women wearing mitts