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, 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
  • 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
  • Museum Rotterdam 20890-1-2, a pair of mitts of unbleached linen with white embroidery on the back
  • Met C.I.44.8.9a, b, linen
  • DAR 99.72.1, “bias-cut diaper-woven linen mitt with lace trim, 1780-1810”
  • Met 2009.300.1685a, b, linen (American, 1800-1824)
  • 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.”
  • Kerry Taylor Auctions 12 Dec 2016, Lot 37, “A rare pair of ladies’ knitted silk and metal thread mittens, probably Italian, late 17th-early 18th century, of fine rose-pink silk with diapered and spotted patterns in gold and silver thread, the curved finger guard lined in lustrous gold braid, and edged with gold fringes”
  • Colonial Williamsburg 1991-555, knit cotton mitts, England, c. 1700 (also here)
  • 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”
  • Colonial Williamsburg 2018-255,1&2, cream hand-knit linen mitts with blue cross-stitched initials on each (“A S” for Abigaile Steere), Massachusetts, c. 1780-1800; see also Knitted Mitts, and the 18thc Women Who Wore (and Didn’t Wear) Them
  • 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’.”
  • National Trust 657607, c. 1795-1805; “A pair of Regency cream knitted silk elbow-length 'mits' or half gloves covering the palm of the hand, with a short thumb open at the end. The body of the glove has a machine-stitched lace pattern, with three lines of stitching on the back of the hand.”
  • 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

  • National Trust 1362792.1/1362792.2, c. 1760-1810; “elbow length buff coloured leather mittens with 1 in vent at top, open thumbs. Hemmed lower edge with five rows of embroidered silk pointing embroidered around the thumb piece … Slightly later in date than 1760, due to the fact that the backs are not peaked but straight.”
  • 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