Ühe sitsijaki lugu: koopia õmblemine umbsest Kihnu jakist / The story of a chintz jacket: making a copy of a Kihnu pullover (umbne) jacket


  • Aivi Tamm




The article is an extension of the author’s MA thesis, “Cotton jackets in the tradition of wearing folk costumes in the mainland and islands of West Estonia at the end of the 19th century and the in the first half of the 20th century” (2022). The process of making a replica of a special umbne chintz jacket found in Kihnu was initiated during the author’s field work on the island. The owner of the jacket donated it to Kihnu Museum. As the original item was in a wretched condition, having been stuck between the logs of a wall as insulation material, the Kihnu Museum ordered a copy of it from the author of the present article. This process was supported by carrying out an inventory of the rest of the Kihnu chintz jackets, 14 items, from the same time period. The article addresses the problems that occurred over the course of making the patterns, choosing the material, and sewing the jacket. Alternatives are discussed and choices are explained.

Typical Kihnu chintz jackets are simple in cut. Side and shoulder seams are shifted towards the back. Sleeve cuts consist of two details: sleeves are slightly bow-shaped and shortened in order to allow hassle-free performance of physical work. The lower-back edge of the jacket is elongated and arched, creating a tail (händ) that covers the back when the wearer bends over. As a rule, Kihnu chintz jackets have a buttoned front placket. The jacket under discussion is different as it has no buttoned opening in the front and the placket is located on a shoulder. No other similar jackets have been preserved, but there are oral recounts of making such items during the period of 1935–1945.

Patterns were taken from the original jacket, but as its sleeves were heavily damaged, their patterns had to be re-created and modified according to the measures of the original jacket. In order to test out the feasibility of the pattern, two test jackets were sewn.

As paisley-patterned fabric similar to the original was not available commercially, the author created a digital fabric pattern herself and ordered it to be printed on a suitable material. The original fabric was photographed and its pattern was digitally re-created. Cleaning and combining the elements of the pattern into a seamless surface was time-consuming work, but the final result was worth it.

The experience in sewing the test jackets provided the author with the necessary confidence to cut up the valuable specially-produced fabric. The length of the machine stitches and the original black colour of the thread closely follow the original, as does the sequence of joining and finishing the details. A major difference from the original lies in the finishing of the hems and decorative collar folds, as the wide, white selvedge of the printed fabric could not be used in the same way Kihnu women would have used their fabrics when finishing the edges of the garment. The author also made the textile covered buttons herself.

The replica of the jacket turned out well and it can be seen in the Kihnu Museum now.

Keywords: chintz jacket, Kihnu, traditional costume, replica, reconstruction


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