Reconstructing Eighteenth-Century Tailoring: A Qualitative Study of Craft Knowledge
This thesis researches the craft knowledge in eighteenth-century sewing through case studies and reconstructions. With the theoretical framework of experimental archaeology, craft science and object-based research, it was found that reconstructions can be a suitable method to research and document craft knowledge and skills of hand sewing. Two dresses from a museum collection were studied in detail and then reconstructed. They represent both folk dress and fashionable dress, showcasing different materials and construction techniques. Fabrics and materials were chosen to match the originals as close as possible and a pattern was taken from the original for the reconstructions. To explore the tailors craft knowledge and skill, the patterns were changed to fit a specific body. The sewing process was done with the same techniques used on the originals with only hand sewing. The reconstructions were documented in writing of each step of the process, as well as photography and video to capture the embodied skill of the maker. It is important to document the process with the hands visible to show how to hold the needle and fabric to perform the specific stitch. Only documenting the result of the sewing loses the documentation of the embodied skill. To be able to use reconstruction as a research method the craft skill of making is needed, which can be limiting the extent of its use. It is also important to clearly document each step in the research process to make it replicable. Then the reconstructions are set against previous research and literature to research them in a wider a context. The reconstructions in this thesis show a shift in construction techniques, with the traditional techniques in the folk dress and the new techniques used for the new fashion of the turn of the century, in the fashionable dress. The thesis presents a method for using reconstructions within academia and craft science with a critical discussion of the method.
Degree project for Master of Science with a major in Conservation 2022, 30 HEC Second Cycle 2022:16