The Art of the Lingère - Chapter VII: Second Part of the Works of the Lingère

The Layette

In an earlier chapter, marriage gave the lingère the work of making and furnishing a convenient trousseau. Once the wife is pregnant, she must still resort to the lingère: she contemplates the fact that she is going to become a mother, and therefore it is time to prepare the layette for her and the infant that she will bring into the world.

"Layette", which etymologically means a "little box", refers today to an assemblage of all the clothes and necessary items for the infant born by its mother during the time of her confinement. With regard to the newborn, whether a boy or a girl: the sexes are not distinguished by different clothing until the age where the infant is no longer an infant. The layette can be magnificent like the trousseau, and for the same reasons a magnificent one will be described: it will contain every possible item. How and when it is put on the infant will also be indicated, and what is called the "suit": this item is too close to the subject of the chapter not to accompany it.

For the Mother.

Six chest linens.

Twelve gussets for milk.

Two lying-in shifts.

Six pairs of amadis sleeves [sleeves going to the wrist], four in muslin, and two in lace.

Twelve flat alaises [a type of bedsheets].

Twelve pleated alaises.

Six stomach bands.

Two muslin déshabillés.

Seventy-two chauffoirs [probably post-birth sanitary napkins].

* Six amadis camisoles, with or without hood.

* A large foot-cover for the bed.

* A smaller one for the chaise longue.

For the Infant.


Forty-eight béguins.

Two cauls.

Twenty-four wraps for wool caps, in three lengths.

Twenty-four cornet caps for night, for three ages.

Twenty-four round caps, for three ages, in muslin or lace.

Twenty-four collar handkerchiefs in batiste, trimmed with muslin.

Six collar napkins trimmed with muslin.

* Six wool caps.

Seventy-two diapers.

Twelve suit or sleep bands.

Eighteen fustian blankets.

Six plain napkins to place at night around the wool blankets.

Two quilted blankets of muslin.

Two blanket edge-covers, for the quilted muslin blankets.

A good blanket edge-cover, for the quilted white satin blanket below.

Twenty-four brassiere shirts, for three ages.

Twelve bibs for two ages, trimmed or in muslin or lace.

Thirty-six handkerchiefs for wiping the infant.

* Six blankets of cloth-of-Dreux; (coarse white wool cloth made for straining ratafia).

* Four blankets of espagnolette [a type of shalloon, a twill-woven worsted wool].

* A quilted blanket in white satin.

* Six brassiere shirts of espagnolette.

Two full outfits, consisting of: 

Two diapers

Two round caps

Four bibs

Two full headdresses

Two bias bands

* Six pairs of linen mittens.

For the Bassinet.

* A bassinet.

* An over-bassinet of stuff.

An in-bassinet, also called over-bow, of fabric.

* A mattress.

* Two bassinet pads

* Six mats, full of oat straw.

Six pairs of bassinet cloths.

* Two wool covers.

* Two feather pillows; namely, a square one for the bassinet, and a long one that the nurse puts on her knees when she dresses the infant.

Twelve pillowcases; namely, six for the square pillow, and six for the long pillow.

The Suit, or The Allotment of the Layette on the Infant.

The term "suit" means the pieces of the layette which were given in the list, and the way they are put on the infant until the age of three years, when girls are put into a shift and jacquette, and the boys into a fourreau until four or five years, when they are given their first breeches. Girls remain in the jacquette until five years old.

The principal use of the description of the suit will be to serve as a guide to mothers who nurse their own infants.

Items put on on the day of Birth (When taken off)

The diaper (three years old)

The wool cap with its brim-cover (three years old)

The round cap for day (three years old; for girls, six months for boys, who then wear a toquet)

The cornet cap for night (three years old)

The têtiere cap (five days old)

The couche (three years old)

The quilted or fustian blanket (three years old)

The cloth-of-Dreux blanket (called the entre-deux blanket) with its fabric wrap trimmed with muslin (three years old)

The suit band (six months old)

A second suit band (six months old)

The espagnolette overblanket (three years old)

Quilted satin blanket, for day (six months old)

Blanket wrap, or tavaïolle, for day (six months old)

Wool cover, for night (six months old)

Collar napkins trimmed with muslin, for night (three years old)

After fifteen days.

Brassiere shirt (six months old)

Wool brassiere shirt (six months old)

Neck handkerchiefs in batiste (three years old for boys; girls always wear them)

After six weeks.

Parure sleeves, or "little arms" (six months old)

After three months.

Bib (two years old)

After six months.
The pieces below are not considered to be part of the layette.

The jacquette.

The shirt of the first age (two years old)

The first stockings (three years old)

After a year.

Pudding cap (three years old)

Stockings of the second age (three years old)

Remarks on the Têtiere.

The têtiere is intended to hold the head of the infant firm and straight in its time of weakness from the day of birth, until it has acquired enough strength to hold its head straight, which is after fifteen days. To this end, after putting on the têtiere, the ends of the lappets are fastened with two pins at each side of the shoulders, one in front and one behind.

On Handkerchiefs and the Suit.

The nurse carries little handkerchiefs which she uses to blow the infant's nose until it is six months old, when it is put into a shift and jacquette, but only during the day. At night it is put back into the suit, and that continues until it is three years old, when it is completely free of the suit. At the end of six months, one attaches other handkerchiefs to the jacquette that are a quarter-ell long and a third-ell wide, fringed and with drawstrings, that it can use to blow its own nose.

Yardage, Cut, and Fashioning of the Pieces of the Layette.

Chest linens.

A Courtray linen, three-quarters of an ell wide, is used; four and a half ells are required for six linens. Long bands are made in a cutout three-sixteenths of an ell wide. That done, fold the cloth into sixths on the width, and cut it to shape as in Figure I, Plate 1, all six together. Sew one of four bands (aaaa) at each end in the direction shown in the same Figure.

This linen is placed on the chest, with the cutouts at the two sides passing under the arms. The upper bands are made to form a St. Andrew's cross down the back, crossing to tie with the lower bands.

The chest linens are intended to support the chest during the milk time.

Gussets for milk.

These are made of a batiste, two-thirds of an ell wide. They are cut at right angles, two from each width: these are sewn shut on three sides, leaving the fourth open so cotton can be put in, after which it is basted shut. (See the section on pillows.)

They are used by the mother to stanch the milk as it comes forth.

Lying-in shift.

A fabric three-quarters of an ell wide is used, with an ell and a quarter required for one body, which is folded in half on the length. A pair of amadis sleeves are taken from the width, and a quarter ell for all of the furnitures which will be added, like a man's shirt, see after. In all, three and five-eighths ells are needed for two full shifts.

This type of shift is open in front like a peignoir, and gathered at the top like a man's shirt. It is trimmed with lace. (See Peignoir, page 14.)

These shifts are used by mothers for about nine days.

Amadis sleeves for a Woman, and their Ruffles.

Amadis sleeves for a woman are made of Courtray linen, three-quarters of an ell wide and a third of an ell long per pair. They are cut as shown in Plate 3, Figure CCb, where they are shown inside the pattern for a man's. Those for women are shorter and less full; the cutout one makes in cutting these serves to line inside from the cuffs to about six inches deep: this lining is sewn to the sleeve with whipstitch.

Each pair of two-layer ruffles, which are added to the bottom of the amadis sleeves from the outside, requires a quarter ell of seven-eighths ell wide muslin. The first row takes a little less than an eighth of an ell, which is cut in two on its width, which makes a very accurate sixteenth. A good eighth is required for the top of the arm, which is divided in two on the width; the sides are scalloped to form the second rows.

If these ruffles are made in entoilage with a little lace, one and a half ells of inch-wide entoilage are required; and if the top of the bottom of the sleeve is trimmed, three-quarters of an ell of entoilage is required per pair, four good fingers wide, and three ells of lace for the top and the bottom.

Flat alaises.

Ell-wide fabric is used. Each one takes three ells, which makes a squared piece. The edges are hemmed. These are used to decorate the lying-in bed.

Pleated alaises.

Cretonne three-quarters of an ell wide is used. Two pieces are required, each an ell and a quarter in height. These are sewn together and mounted by gathering to a belt a twelfth of an ell high and three-quarters of an ell wide. These alaises are left open in front, and ribbons are sewn to it at intervals.

These are used to wrap the mother over the belt.

Stomach bands.

Cretonne of seven-eighths of an ell wide is used. Two bands are made from one ell-length, with the selvage at the bottom. The stomach bands are long rectangles, with several pleats at the top.

Muslin déshabillé.

The déshabille consists of a bedgown, hood, petticoat, amadis, and ruffles. Only the amadis sleeves and ruffles described above are made by the lingère; the rest is the area of the seamstress.


These are made of royale, three-quarters of an ell long. Nine ells are required for a dozen chauffoirs. The manner in which they are used will be explained at the end under the heading of reference.


As the béguin cap is the first headdress of the infant, and it is not gotten rid of until it is three years old, they must be made very full, since the head grows. The proportions are given here for four ages.

For béguins in general, half-holland or royale is used, three-quarters of an ell wide.

Béguins for the first age.

Five can be made from the width, and ten from a length nine-sixteenths of an ell. Each is trimmed with a band of muslin nine-sixteenths of an ell long and an inch wide. All ten are cut together, one after the other: to do this, the width is folded in five and the length in four; a circle is cut which must be the height of the back of the head, so that the selvage is always found on the front of the béguin. See Figure II, Plate 1 where the béguin is unfolded to show the double shaping cut at the top of the head.

To put it together, a fold or false hem is made around the front to the inside. A single fold is made on each side towards the cheeks, and the whole front is trimmed with muslin (see Fig. III, which shows the completed béguin). At the bottom on one side, a little band of fabric is attached that passes under the infant's chin, and is held on the other side with a pin, which is called a bar (b), made to keep the béguin in its place.

Second age.

Four can be made from the width, and twelve in a length of thirty-one-thirty-seconds of an ell; there is still a cut-out which can make little brim-covers for the wool caps, later: the bands will be five-eighths long, and still an inch wide.

Third age.

Four can be made from the width; twelve can be made from a length of one and a thirty-second ell; there is still a little cutout for the bars: the bands are two-thirds of an ell long, and an inch wide.

Fourth age.

Four can only just be made from the width, and twelve in a one and one-eighth ell length: the bands are three-quarters of an ell long, and an inch wide like the previous ones.

Wool Cap Covers.

Batiste is used; three-eighths of an ell long for the first age, seven-sixteenths for the second, two-thirds for the third; the whole on a twelfth in height. These are used to border the fronts of wool caps, so that the wool doesn't rub against the face, and they are trimmed with a plain lace. Figure IV.


The fabric for the têtieres is taken from a piece of three-sixteenths of an ell or thereabouts, which was taken from the blanket edge-cover (later). Figure V shows the cut.

Cornette caps for night.

A fabric matching that of the béguins earlier is used, a muslin that is three-quarters of an ell wide. Four crowns can be made from the width: the crowns are three-sixteenths of an ell high and wide. Three lappets or one and a half cornettes can be made from the same width. The cornette must be three inches wide at the top of the head; said top and the two lappets, which only make one cap, are a half-ell long. In all one ell and five-sixths are needed for twelve cornettes, Figure VI.

If the trimming is muslin, three-quarters of an ell are required for each cornette. The front and back of the two lappets are a third of an ell long and an inch wide, the scalloping counting towards the width. If the trimming is lace, it must be an inch wide and the same yardage.

It is not necessary to make these cornettes for all age levels, as it does not remain in use; but as there are people who need it very large, the same yardage fifteen-sixteenths of an ell wide can be used to make twelve cornettes. They can also be made in half-Holland.

In all, one ell and five-sixths of fabric is needed for twelve cornettes.

Round caps or those with two rows of ruffles.

In a linen or double muslin just about fifteen-sixteenths of an ell wide, a length of five-sixths of an ell is cut for twelve caps. Four crowns are made from the width, in the same proportion of those of the cornette above; and for the crowns and brims of said twelve caps, a length of an ell and a twelfth. The brims will be two and a quarter inches wide, and five-eighths of an ell long. A band and a half are made in the same width of a clear muslin: the under-bands will be three inches wide and five-sixths of an ell long; the over-bands are two inches wide and a foot and a half-inch long.

If round caps that are larger than the previous ones are wanted, the same four crowns can be made from the width of a double muslin matching the previous one: for the crowns and brims of two caps, one and an eighth ells, and for the bands, one and a quarter ells in a clear muslin three-quarters of an ell wide. (See the shape in Figure VII.)

Note. With regard to béguins, têtieres, cornettes, round caps, see for the seams, etc. the heading for lace caps and around-the-throat, page 15.

Collar handkerchiefs, & Infant Neck Handkerchiefs.

These are made of royale or half-holland, or else of batiste.

In royale, for twelve, two and a quarter ells are required, and for the trimming of the twelve each will need two bands. In muslin three-quarters of an ell wide, an ell is required; or if the muslin is fifteen-sixteenths of an ell wide, only eleven-twelfths would be required.

If they are made of batiste, two can be made from the width of the batiste, that is to say, each is a third of an ell square, and the trimming in proportion.

When infants are larger, and one wants them to wear muslin neck handkerchiefs, which are hardly ever made, two can be taken from the width of a muslin in fifteen-sixteenths of an ell width. For twelve, two and five-sixths ells are required. No trimming is added.

Infant Neck Napkins.

Royale three-quarters of an ell wide is used. Each napkin will be an ell long. They are trimmed in muslin that is three-quarters of an ell wide; the trim is a sixth of an ell wide and two and a quarter ells long. The whole bottom is trimmed: the two bottom corners and the sides are pleated to within a quarter ell of the top.

These napkins are put at the infant's throat when they wake up.



A fabric that is three-quarters of an ell wide is required; each diaper is three-quarters of an ell long, and in a perfect square. Nine ells are required for twelve diapers.

Suit Bands.

Cretonne is required. They are three ells long and an eighth of an ell wide; they are made to go around the suit several times to hold it. It would be better not to use these.

Quilted muslin blankets.

A muslin fifteen-sixteenths of an ell wide and an ell long is required for each. It is lined with a good garas of the same width, or with a coarse muslin: cotton is put between the two, and it is quilted. (See Figure VIII for the shape.)

Fustian blankets.

These are not quilted. Take an ell and a half of fustian a half-ell wide; cut it in two down the length. Put each piece one on the other, keeping the nap on the outside; leave a sixteenth ell unlined on each side of the blanket, to allow for attaching the pins.

It takes eighteen ells in all for twelve blankets.

Plain napkins.

A Laval linen or a half-holland three-quarters of an ell wide is required; each napkin is an ell long. These napkins are put on at night under the wool blankets, so that the wool does not touch the infant.

Handkerchiefs for wiping the Infant.

Two can be made from a third of an ell of batiste. They are used to clean the infant's face. They are square.

Bias, a type of Kerchief.

A band of fabric two and eight-twelfths inches wide and five-twelfths of an ell long is cut. It is folded in two, and cut on the width. The bands are sewn half-open in the compass directions to a square gusset, a sixteenth of an ell on each side. These two portions of the bands and the gusset are trimmed and covered with three-quarters of an ell of muslin or fancy lace, and an ell and a third of muslin or small-finger-wide plain lace: this is used to trim around the edges. The muslin or fancy lace is pleated only around the neckline. This type of neck handkerchief is used to dress the infant.

Full Coiffe.

When dressing the infant, it suffices to put on an ordinary woman's muslin coiffe, for it is not particular to them.

Little Arms.

The "little arms" are part of the infant's dress: they are cut when the fabric for the blanket wrap is cut out. (See below.) They are put over the sleeves of the brassiere. They are trimmed fully with gathered and scalloped muslin, attached at the top with pins, and held in the middle of their length with a pink or other-colored ribbon that goes around the arm. (See Figure 12.)

Brassiere Shirts.

These are made of royale or half-holland. The body is a good quarter-ell long; only a body and a sleeve are taken in the width, with the selvage in the back: three and seven-eighths ells are used for twelve. The trimming for twelve is made of two-thirds of muslin three-quarters of an ell wide.

If these shirts are wanted two fingers bigger, and as much wider, a Courtray linen three-quarters of an ell wide is used; it takes four and a half ells per dozen, and the same quantity of muslin as above for trimming, in a muslin that is five-sixths of an ell wide.

Figure X shows a brassiere shirt. a, the neck cutout, the bottom of which is left partly attached: the sleeves are folded up. Figure XI shows the cut of the shirt seen from the side. a, the slit for sewing the sleeve; b, the slit on the bias for the front of the neckline. This type of shirt must be entirely open in the back, as shown at c, Figure X. It closes over the infant, one side held over the other with pins.

Blanket Wrap, or Tavaïolle.

A Courtray linen is used; an ell-length is needed. For the trimming, a muslin three-quarters, seven-eighths, or fifteen-sixteenths of an ell wide is needed, which is an ell and a third long; a third of an ell is cut off to make the upper volant flounce.

A cutout of about three sixteenths of an ell will be made from the width of the fabric, from which the têtiere is made and the "little arms" from before.

Figure XII shows the way the trimming aaa is disposed on the blanket wrap.


These are made in half-holland a half-ell wide; three can be made from the width. Those for the first age should be three-sixteenths of an ell long; the others, from age to age, would be an inch longer. They are folded one on the other, and are all cut together, giving them the shape shown in Figure XIII. The trim will be an inch wide, the scalloping counting in the width; if using three-quarters of an ell wide muslin, a third of an ell is necessary for a dozen, and with fifteen-sixteenths of an ell wide muslin, no more than a quarter ell.

Inside the Bassinet, called Over the Bow.

What is called the bassinet bow consists of three wooden half-circles which raise the head of the bassinet and serve as a canopy. This bow is covered with linen.

A fabric three-quarters of an ell wide and one and a half ells long is used for the above-mentioned circles; this length is folded in two. And for the base which closes the bow in the back, and is sewn to the half on top, a piece of cloth a half-ell wide and a third of an ell high is necessary.

To fit this in the bassinet on the bow, round the top of the base, then sew it to the top, which must exceed said base by a quarter ell at the bottom on each side. Cut the fold twice up to where the base ends, which will create two parts: the interior goes inside the bassinet, and the exterior attaches outside.

Sew several ribbons along the base at intervals, and the same number to the part of the top that attaches to it, and tie these ribbons to the wood of the bassinet. 

Figure AA, Plate 3 represents an assembled over-the-bow.

Bassinet Cloths.

These requires a piece of Cretonne an ell wide. Each cloth is two ells long.


See the same section in the trousseau chapter.

Note. That all the pieces which are of wool or stuff in the layette, like wool caps, cloth-of-Dreux blankets, blankets of espagnolette, espagnolette brassiere shirts, thread mittens, white satin quilted blankets, foot-covers, bassinet canopies, mattresses, pads, mats, wool covers, pillows, are not part of the Art of the Lingère, which is why they are not named and described here. They are marked with an asterisk in the list above.


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