Baby's carrying cape of cream-coloured wool trimmed with fringing and with braid in fern-like patterns; UK, ca. 1908
Length: 87 cm centre back below collar, without fringing
From the family of the donor Miss E. Harris (RF 87/2082) : Elizabeth Simons (b.1885) married (1) James Henry Harris (b. circa 1878) and (2) William James Brown. The children of the first marriage were Elizabeth Mary Ann (b.06/06/1908) and Alice Louisa (b. 30/12/1912), who wore the cape; John Rowland and Beatrice Nellie (the children of the second marriage) born in January 1922 and December 1922, did not wear it.
Baby's carrying cape of fine twilled cream coloured wool lined with white cotton. The yoked cape has a turn-down collar of self fabric trimmed with a looped line of ivory braid, and is finished at the hem with ivory braid and fringing. The short cape has a white cotton lining with ivory silk facings, and is edged with ivory braid and fringing with a tassel at each corner; both the long and short capes are decorated with laid and couched ivory braid arranged in fern-like patterns. The garment fastens at the front with two pairs of ivory silk ribbons.
The major change in baby clothes during the 19th century was the development of an increasingly large and complex layette of 'long clothes' needed in place of swaddling to keep the baby as warm. The form of this layette was to last for almost a hundred and fifty years, and the long gown, having been previously associated with rituals such as Christening or Circumcision, became daily wear. The baby was freed from swaddling, but enveloped in more and heavier garments than previously: binder, nappy, pilch or nappy cover, shirt or vest, two caps, bodice, barracoat (flannel wrapper), petticoats, gown, cape or shawl, bib or pinafore, socks and shoes. Mass production techniques introduced during the 19th century created increasing consumer choice, and led to the abandoning of much of the exquisite but labour-intensive embroidery and finishing of the garments which had previously characterised infants' clothing.