Wednesday, January 20, 2010

spats and gaiters

Spats and gaiters-
Spats being the short version, and in my vocabulary, gaiters being the longer- maybe there is another description for the ladies version.

I found a pair of men's wool spats and just one ladies gaiter while I was going through the boxes of things I keep at the studio. We are often called upon to make these to complement the costumes we are working on so it is nice to have examples to see the shapes and sizes and to note how they were constructed.

These are both made of a dense but not thick wool- it would have been felted for this purpose.
On the men's pair, the seam allowances are covered with a narrow 1/4" strip of leather that is topstitched in place. The same leather strip is used to finish off the inside of the top and bottom edges. The wool itself is cut raw along those edges.
The ladies gaiter has a narrow cotton canvas tape instead of leather to cover the seam allowances, and both have a layer of cotton canvas to reinforce the buttonhole and the button area. The men's spat has a leather strap and a buckle that go under the shoe, while the ladies gaiter has a matching wool strap and buckle.
They aren't in bad shape, all things considered, I think they have to be at least 75 years old, but maybe as old as a hundred.
It sometimes makes me wonder how people went from wearing these to how few dress accessories most people wear now. I don't think my daughter even unties her boots to put them on and off, so it's interesting to imagine the process of getting ready to go out, putting these on, on top of your lace up boots.

Back in the box they go. I should look up some information on how to conserve these things properly so they are here in another 75 years. Just add it to the to do list.


  1. Interesting things you found! If I remember right there excisted a tool helping to close the buttons. Bending was not so easy for a lady in full gear.

  2. Yes, it is a buttonhook- something I may find as I unpack more things.

  3. Is it me or are the way the gaiter buttonholes are made look different from the way others describe to make them?

  4. I'd have to look at them in my hand to really scrutinize them. Do you mean they don't look like hand made, ie silk thread with a buttonhole sticth over gimp? They may be machine made, but again, I'd have to go get them to look at them properly. If I run across a pair at work I'll look at them.