For this terminology post, we’re looking at glove terms: fourchettes, quirks, tranks and points.
I loveÂ theseÂ words just because they areÂ so random and specific. Â Other than glove makers and fashion historians, who would know that there are specific words for the different parts of gloves?
The main piece of a glove, with the back and front of the glove and the tops and bottoms of the fingers all cut in one, with only one side seam, is the trank. Â It’s shown in pretty pink in the photo above.
Going between the fingers, and attached to the trank, is the fourchette (in lovely lavenderÂ in the coloured photo above), also called the fork or forgeÂ which is:
A forked strip of material forming the sides of two adjacent fingers of a glove
In other words, this bit:
It is from the French, for forked, because a fourchette is forked, and allows the fingers to fork.
Some fourchettes have an extra little V gusset at the bottom, called a quirkÂ (shown in beautiful blue in the coloured photo)Â or querk (scrabble players take note!)Â to allow more movement and better shape to the fingers.
A late 17th century description of the glove makers art describes quirks as:
Querks, the little square peeces at the bottom of the fingers
Gloves cut of very soft, stretchy leather did not always need a quirk, so their forchettes are a simpler strip, or have the quirk cut in one with the forchette:
When the glove thumb piece and its quirk are cut in one, it isÂ a Bolton thumb glove.
Knit gloves don’t usually have fourchettes, and some modern stretch fabric gloves also forgoe them, but most leather gloves from at least the 17th century to the present have some form of fourchette.
North and Tiramani’s Seventeenth Century Women’s Dress Patterns has twoÂ excellent pattern for early 17th century glove with fourchettes (though sadly, they just call them forks) and quirks.
Usually fourchettes just form the space between two fingers, but there is a type of glove called a continuous fourchette glove, where one strip of fabric starts at the pinkie and runs up the side of the pinkie across the tip, down the side, up the next one, and so on until the end.
This type of glove may date back to at least the 13th century BC Â (although theÂ glove mentioned in that pamphlet does not shows up on a search of the Metropolitan Museum of Arts collection database).
And finally, if you have ever wondered about the seam lines across the back of gloves, they are called pointsÂ and originated as extensions of the finger pieces on gloves, to aid in better shaping.
Now, how many times can you come up with an excuse to useÂ these termsÂ in a week? 😉
If you are interested in glove-making, I highly recommendÂ Eunice Close’s ‘How to Make Gloves’, or the aforementioned pattern in Seventeenth Century Women’s Dress Patterns.
Close, Eunice, How to Make Gloves, 1950
Johnston, Lucy. Â Nineteenth-Century Fashion in Detail. Â London: V&A Publishing, 2005
North, Susan and Tiramani, Jenny. Â Seventeenth Century Women’s Dress Patterns. Â London: V&A Publishing, 2011