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A vintage outfit is not complete without a pair of seamed stockings, but what is the point of a seam, and where did it come from?

A mini history of nylon stockings

Stockings have been around for a while but were made of wool, cotton or silk until the invention of nylon. Nylon stockings were first created in the 1940s by a company called Du Pont. It is reported that when nylon stockings were first introduced into the market, 4 million pairs were sold in one day! The demand for these new stockings even caused riots.

During the war, Du Pont switched from making stockings to making war equipment such as parachutes, which meant that there was a shortage of nylon hosiery; stockings were sold on the black market and women resorted to drawing seams up the back of their legs with eyebrow pencils to emulate the look of a fully-fashioned (seamed) stocking.

OK but why do they have a seam up the back?

Fully-fashioned stockings were knitted into flat sheets of nylon called ‘tissues’. These tissues were knitted into the shape of a leg and foot (profile view), then folded in half and sewn up to create a tube. The seam actually holds the stocking together, it is a straight line of stitching from the toe to the top of the welt. The seam was therefore a very practical aspect of the stocking!
 
Fully-fashioned stocking being made on traditional machine
 
Nylon stocking being seamed using traditional seaming machine
 
As time went on and as technology advanced, nylon stockings were made in circular knitting barrels which meant that there was no need for a seam to keep the stocking together. Many women preferred this modern seamless look and the popularity of seamless stockings overtook that of the fully-fashioned stocking in the 1960s.

Although there is no longer a need to ‘seam’ stockings, there are many people who still love the look of seamed hosiery. There are still specialists who make stockings in the traditional way but this is a very time-consuming and expensive technique. Nowadays it is a lot faster and cheaper to simply stitch a decorative seam up the back of a stocking. Many hosiery brands are doing this and in a variety of colours too.

If you’d like to try out seamed stockings for yourself, make sure you check out our Maria stockings and add a bit of history to your legs!

 

 

Elinor xxx

November 05, 2019 by Elinor Lloyd-Philipps

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