If you’ve clicked back through my blog, or been following me for a little while, you have probably seen my post on garters. In essence, garters are a great part of 18th century material culture, because they could show off a lot of personality, as well as carrying important messages. Since I do most of my 18th century sewing at work, I like to work on projects that show a side of historical people most visitors wouldn’t have considered otherwise, and garters are a great way to do that.
This month, I’ve taken a saying from an extant pair of garters, halte la, on ne passe pas (stop here, do not go further), and mixed it with a design found on other sets of garters from the period.
It’s a nice way to work on my embroidery skills while also sharing a small peek into the personalities of the past. In 200 years, historians might find a Grumpy Cat t-shirt and wonder if its owner was particularly anti-social, or simply had a sense of humor. This is the same question we get to ask today when we look at garters like these, and it’s exciting for me to be able to connect the past to the present in such a vivid way.
I don't have a lot of information about these individual garters. I know they were used in a museum exhibition showing underclothes and accessories from 1812, but I also know that this style was seen as early as the 1770's. Furthermore, one of my colleagues who speaks French much better than I do pointed out that "la" should have an accent to indicate its use as a place and not an article. I don't know if this was optional in 18th century French, or if these were perhaps made/decorated by a young lady who was just learning French. After all, you can buy lots of shirts that say "amour" and "bonjour" on them today, why wouldn't French, the language of diplomacy, be just as popular for ornamentation in the 18th century?