When you take up glove making as a craft you are joining a company which has a long and honorable history, going back through many centuries. Nobody quite knows when gloves were first worn generally by both men and women, either as a means of keeping warm or as an indispensable part of the costume. We do know that strong leathergloves were worn for hawking as far back as the twelfth century.
As time went on, elaborately decorated gloves were worn on ceremonial occasions by the clergy and nobility alike. The antique gloves which have survived to the present day are naturally those which belonged to the most important people of the time so that we have little or no information as to what ordinary people wore. InElizabethan times gloves were made from the finest leather or from silks and satins, often elaborately embroidered with gold and gems. Many beautiful examples have come down to us from this and later periods and may be seen in museums up and down the country.
In the fifteenth century the glove makers banded together in guilds and these guilds were powerful enough to enforce their own veryhigh standards. Gloves which did not reach this standard were seized and burned. This pride in good workmanship has survived to the present day for the old-established firms are justly proud of their high reputation.
Nowadays gloves are much simpler than those of earlier times, although the elaborate embroidery which once adorned the backs of the hands still survives in the form of the"points" with which even the simplest gloves are decorated. Gloves are, of course, a normal part of our ordinary dress and as such they vary with the changing fashions. One season, wrist length gloves may be fashionable. The next year we may all be wearing gloves halfway to our elbows. Wise glove makers will always be on the alert to detect new trends in fashion. A careful and regular survey of thegoods in the glove department of a high-class store will do more than anything else to keep us up-to-date in all those details which mark off the gloves of one season from those of the next.
Modern glove makers, working in their own homes, will no doubt want to make gloves almost entirely by hand. Gloves made in factories are nearly always sewn on special machines, but the handworker, who usually has only an ordinary sewing machine available, will find it much easier to sew seams by hand, although the points and wrist edges are often better if they are stitched by machine. The great advantage of making gloves by hand is that each pair can be made to fit the wearer for whom it is intended.
Leather gloves are, of course, the most hard-wearing of all. They keep theirshape well and are warm and comfortable. When choosing leather for making gloves, remember that it must be supple, fairly thin and attractive to look at and to feel. Suede, Persian, kid, capeskin, real or imitation pigskin and chamois leather can all be used. Suede can be obtained in a variety of lovely colors, but most of the others come in black, gray, navy and varying shades of brown, rangingfrom deepest brown to light fawn. Chamois is a pale yellow and doeskin is a cream that is almost white. I have lately seen some most attractive dyed chamois skins. I have not had an opportunity of making or wearing gloves made from these skins, so I cannot say whether the dyes are fast or not, but if the skin is of good quality they have almost the appearance of suede and should be worthconsidering. The following skins are suitable for making gloves: buckskin, cabretta, calfskin, capeskin, chamois, deerskin, doeskin, goatskin, mocha, kidskin, pigskin.
The average size of the skin works out at from four to eight square feet. If you are in any doubt as to whether the skin you want will be big enough for the gloves you want to make you can always take the pattern to the leather...