August 3, 2011

1858 Peterson's Mantilla Pattern

In the 1850s, mantillas were lightweight, short capes with hoods. They were outerwear meant for Fall and Spring  and were frequently made out of lace or silk. If plain silk was used, mantillas were typically richly decorated with large pleats, ruffles, lace and ribbons.

This particular mantilla is made of silk, had a ribbon closure, an embroidered muslin collar and is decorated with a goffered flounce that is accented with braiding.

It seems like the perfect, simple project to make considering some of the reenacting and other period events will start getting a little chilly soon.

  This was a strange illustration to have in the magazine as the diagram requires editing to make the mantilla look like the back in this illustration.

The pattern has sharp curves unlike the illustration. The square-cut fronts is what makes it a "Bournous Mantilla."

This is a diagram for an embroidered collar that was featured in the same issue of Peterson's Magazine. These collars were typically embroidered with white thread on a white background but some were done in entirely black. The collar for the mantilla should be equally decorated.

This is an illustration on goffered flounce. The pleats were usually 4 or 5 inches deep.Mantillas were a high-fashion item and were trimmed to excess.

  If you plan to make this mantilla, keep in mind that it should not be lined with a heavy material or quilted. The square cutouts are supposed to land on your bent elbow and the back point should about 5 inches below your waist. Hopefully, I will enlarge the diagram and give everyone an idea on how many inches each part should be. It would be a nice, light covering to wear on your way to a ball.


  1. oooh i've always wanted to make one of these! you don't seem them recreated often enough.

    one thing though: after reading the accompanying description, i think it IS supposed to look like the half-trimmed image. the description indicated that they were not able to give the entire pattern piece because of space restriction, and you as the seamstress are supposed to "finish" the given pattern piece to make it look like the other illustration. so the back still needs to be extended to a sort of pointed half circle shape, and the front "tails" need to be lengthened as well. hope that helps!

  2. Samantha, you should make one!

    I do agree with you, the pattern pieces just really didn't add up. I understood it as they had enough room for the full diagram, but not the full illustration. (I have never had to add anything to a period diagram before.)Usually they work out and look like the picture. :D

    I also had a hard time deciding if it was intended to actually have a hood, being "bournous." The Burnous hoods were worn by Arabs in the French army and were always hooded. I could see where you would use the "hood" piece as the curved back part but the pattern pieces really weren't adding up.

    Either way, I think the mantilla in the illustration is very cute and someone needs to recreate it. :D

  3. I have never had to alter a period diagram either, only enlarge it. I think it should look similar to the picture with extra for the front. This is probably just a really bad diagram.

  4. I've edited the top to reflect both of your inputs. Thanks so much.

  5. I really like mantillas - I think I must try and make one sometime! :) Thanks for sharing.


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