Sunday, October 20, 2013

Kristen: Civil War Spectacle Case

Oh dear reader! I have found myself in another pocket of research from which I fear I won't recover. It all started with a leftover piece of red linen from my travel bag. I just could not part with it!

I wanted to do something memorable with it, and not just a reticule! Finally, I came across a "spectacle case" pattern in Godey's Lady's book. While it called for velvet or canvas work, I improvised with my red linen and black cotton soutache. Here is a basic rundown of the process. It only took a few hours in front of the television!

My only question now: What is the level of accuracy? I know they existed on a *basic* level, so I can't be convinced that a lady wouldn't have one if she needed it. So far, here is my research (which spans over 20 years). It includes The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Godey's Lady's Book, and a basic google search.

The Work Table Scagliola Work: Spectacle Case August 1849
Take a piece of card board, of the desired size and shape; cover this with a good cream-colored drawing paper. Upon this draw the design with a pencil; trace over the pencil marks with Indian ink and a fine quill; then fill in the ground with Indian ink and a camel’s hair brush. After two or three days, varnish with the best picture varnish. If preferred, this design may be worked in embroidery stitch, either with silk or gold thread-the material leather or green velvet. Stiffen the cardboard, and line with white velvet.

Godey's Ladies Book: Spectacle Case March 1861

This little article is to be worked on fine silk canvas with floss silks in tent-stitch. This will prevent the necessity of filling in the ground, and it also leaves the design more distinct when it is worked. The centre cross is in three colors, the little star in the middle is four white stitches with one gray in the centre. Round it there are eight stitches in rich dark crimson; round these four lines the cross is enlarged by two rows of bright blue stitches, in two shades. The six little stars around are in two shades of crimson. The remainder of the scroll pattern round the cross is in grays, shaded with black, the lightest parts being worked in white. The little pattern, which it carried round the edge, is in alternate blue and scarlet, with the rows nearest the edge in black. This will be found, when worked, a pretty effective arrangement of colors. When the two sides are completed, they must be lined with crimson silk, and joined together afterwards. The stitches are to be hid with a row of small beads,  either white, steel, or gold. The case is closed at the bottom and left open at the top.

Godey's Ladies Book Braided Spectacle Case December 1862 (No description)

Godey's Ladies Book: Spectacle case on Fine Canvas in Berlin Wool June 1862
A little article suitable for a token of friendship from the young to the old, easily worked, find pretty when completed. A fine canvas is required, and the light shades used in the pattern should be in floss silk. The ground is in crimson, and the pattern is worked in black, blues, and grays. The little border round has a black ground, the pattern being in alternate reds, blues, and whites. The colors should not be chosen for the gaiety of their contrasts, as it is the neatness of the work, and the suitability of style in the pattern, which render the article, when completed, appropriate for the purpose for which it is intended. The two sides must be lined with silk, an inner lining of flannel being first inserted; they must then be sewed together, leaving one end open to admit the spectacles, after which the stitches must be hid by a very small black silk cord sewed on all around, and at the opening on both sides of each half.

(This one is made from linen!)

I have also found examples of these cases in Godey's Lady's Book, 1868 and 1869.

Also, I have already scoured The Sewing Academy's site.

So my final question is this: can MY spectacle case be used for Civil War reenacting? Also, if you have any tidbits of research, could you please post below?


***Note the irony: I don't wear glasses.

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