Once upon a time fashion gloves were stylish, unspoken symbol of luxury and class, a powerful combination of modesty and glamour. Would recent events make us revisit this obsolete fashion accessory and make gloves come back to our lives?
In these anxious times, gloves may help psychologically by forming a thin barrier between us and the outside world. Although cloth gloves do not provide the same level of protection as plastic gloves, but as with cloth masks, any protection, in my opinion, is better than no protection. They stop us from touching the face and transferring germs from surfaces for once.
A little bit of History
Gloves were first worn by cardinals and kings as ornamental accessories to signify social status, wealth and elegance. (BARGER) In the Middle Ages and during the Renaissance, gloves were often given as gifts and tokens of love and respect. Looking at the vintage painting and photos, it’s interesting to see how gloves evolved. Gloves are often associated with women and strict social rules, but actually up until twentieth century both men and women made considerable investments in their clothing, including gloves. The gloves were adorned with jewelry and elaborate embroideries and, if not worn, they were always carried around as a status symbol. (Smithsonian)
From daily wear to pure luxury
Gloves gradually disappeared from every day wear after the 1970s along with hats, but they continued to be associated with luxury. Looking through the books about Chanel, Dior and Balenciaga, I see how these designers thought about the total ensemble, matching the outfit with the hat, bag and gloves Balenciaga’s simple black wool suit transforms when accompanied by black gloves. The famous ‘Caracas’ Dior silk dress had matching long black gloves, which added the air of unmistakable glamour to the dress. Chanel, Christian Dior, Givenchy and other designers used gloves as a powerful accessory on runways and in catalogues to make their couture garments stand out.
There are many glove patterns available online, and they are actually very similar. The prices vary widely, however. PDF patterns are the cheapest, but keep in mind that they require a certain level of computer skills to make sure your print scale is 100% and you will need A4 paper supply. If you don’t have a printer, call your local office supply store before ordering a PDF pattern to see if they can print it for you and for how much because it will add to the cost of the PDF pattern. For your free options, online Threads magazine offers a free pattern which is great for those who have solid sewing skills.
Start making handgloves!
If you are new to making gloves, however, I suggest getting a pattern with full sewing instructions. Original vintage patterns are the most expensive. Although I was tempted to get a 50s pattern, I opted for the brand new Vogue gloves pattern from mccall.com which also happened to be on sale. (Buyers beware: when shopping for patterns, check official sites like McCalls or Burda first before shopping at other places like Etsy or online vintage pattern shops. Butterick, Vogue and McCall’s reprint some of their vintage patterns and you can get their selection when you go to mccall.com and type “vintage” in the search box. )
Sewingpattern Vogue V8311
This Vogue pattern has large, medium and small glove sizes and varieties of designs. To determine your size, you need to measure the circumference of your palm at the widest part (small is 7”, medium 8” and large 9”). To get a perfect fit, cut the pattern on a bias and use a stretchy material. Perfect fabric for making reusable gloves is cotton, especially stretch cotton, but you can make the gloves from leather, rayon, silk, linen, wool and, of course, jersey. Once you perfect the basic pattern, you can play with the design; include buttons, buckles, elastic panels, lace, embroidery or beads. Be bold and express yourself.
Choose your color
What colour gloves to make is really a matter of your unique taste. If you want to stay traditional, look at your bag or shoes and get the gloves to match. Make a mask in the same fabric and the colour coordination will be perfect. Although white gloves are probably impractical, little black gloves would be the most elegant choice for any outfit. To remember your gloves, keep one pair in your purse and another in your car. Wash the gloves as soon as you come home, just as you do with your cloth face mask.
This is a new reality for most of us, no matter where we are in the world. Cloth gloves, like masks, are another way to adapt and move on. But for all the artists and creators out there, gloves don’t need to be unsightly nuisance contributing to landfills. They can be a way to express our unique style and they need not disappear again.
About the Author:
Elena Tran is a Canadian dressmaker and an entrepreneur passionate about haute couture sewing using
beautiful fabrics and notions. After her career as a college administrator and mathematics professor, she
pursued her interest in sewing and opened an online luxury fabric store baudekinstudio.ca. She is
constantly learning and improving her craft. Her training includes lessons with the legendary couture
instructor Angelina di Bello (Montreal, Canada), dressmaking program at Mohawk College (Hamilton,
Canada) and online needlework courses at the Royal School of Needlework (London, UK).