I have found your white mittens; they were folded up within my clean nightcap, and send their duty to you.
Jane Austen to Cassandra
August 24, 1805
Among the fashion items in Kensington Palace are a pair of hand-embroidered mittens owned by Princess Charlotte, daughter of George 1V and Caroline of Brunswick (the Princess Diana of her day) who died tragically young in 1817 while in childbirth. Read more: Mail Online
Your average 18th century mitt would have a thumb (or rather half a thumb), but not have any other fingers. It would sometimes extend not just over the hand but over part of the fingers as well. This meant that it would keep you warm (or protected from the sun in the summer) but not hinder your movements at all. You could do things like write, draw or do needlework with mitts on. And combined with a muff, they were quite enough even for venturing outside in the winter.”
– Mitts & Fingerless Gloves
Several websites offer instructions for making your own mitts, including a crocheted pattern in our crafts section:Lacy Mitt Gloves. A firsthand look at mitt construction can be found here: Making 18th Century Mitts, while a pattern for sew mitts can be purchased from Kannick’s Korner. Velvet and lace Mitts can be purchased from our Jane Austen Centre shop in a variety of colors.
Vic Sanborn oversees two blogs: Jane Austen’s World and Jane Austen Today. Before 2006 she merely adored Jane Austen and read Pride and Prejudice faithfully every year. These days, she is immersed in reading and writing about the author’s life and the Regency era. Co-founder of her local (and very small) book group, Janeites on the James, she began her blogs as a way to share her research on the Regency era for her novel, which sits unpublished on a dusty shelf. In her working life, Vic provides resources and professional development for teachers and administrators of Virginia’s adult education and literacy programs.
This article was written for Jane Austen’s World and is used here with permission.