Friday, 18 May 2012

1911 corset - p.s.

I just couldn't leave well alone. When I was editing the photographs of my 1911 corset, I noticed that one of the bones had moved up its boning channel, and was now sticking out at an ungainly angle. I could have just pushed it back into place but no, having noticed it, it had to be fixed properly.

The offending bone

I'm not sure why the sew-along suggested only flossing at the bottom of each bone. Corsets are normally flossed at both the top and bottom, as shown in this example, photographed on the Foundations Revealed visit to the Symington Collection last year.

1900 corset for sports wear, with machine flossing top and bottom, (c) Leicestershire County Council Museums Service; Symington Collection

I felt that flossing the tops of the bones in the same mixture of dark pink threads that I had used at the bottom would look too heavy so close to the trim, so instead I worked with the palest of the pinks, combined with several strands of white floss.

The completed top flossing

I also reversed the direction of the stitches, as I felt that this gave a more balanced effect.

Different directions, top and bottom

Finally, writing a second post about this project allows me to include a couple more photographs of the (now completely) finished item.

Back view
Inside view, showing the boning channels and waist stay

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Reunited, and a museum visit

All in all, March was not a good month for me. Illness meant that I had to pull out of one of the few Ya Raqs events I can actually attend this season. I lost three generations-worth of family jewellery. And I broke my sewing machine.

Unfortunately there's nothing I can do about the first two. And for a while it looked as though there was nothing I could do about the last one, either. Various firms I spoke to told me that my machine was too old to repair, or simply not worth repairing. Several tried to sell me a new machine instead. As I don't need lots of fancy stitches, and my 1986(!) machine actually has a number of features which I use regularly but are now only available on more expensive modern models, I politely declined these offers.

Fortunately someone recommended Bambers, in Eccles, Manchester. Sure enough, they took one look at it, and assured me that they would be able to repair it. I collected it today, repaired and ready to use again, and am quite unreasonably happy.

On the way home, we took a detour through Liverpool to visit Sudley House. Sudley is probably one of the lesser-known Liverpool museums, being tucked away in a leafy suburb in the south of the city. However it is a little gem. Bought by George Holt, owner of a Liverpool shipping line, in 1883, it still contains his art collection, and exudes the air of a happy family home.

Some of the paintings have been removed for restoration, and temporarily replaced by others from the National Museums Liverpool collection. Happily for me, one of the replacements was this painting by Marie Spartali Stillman, which is one of my favourite Pre-Raphaelite paintings, but rarely on display.

Madonna Pietra della Scrovigni

The main reason for the visit however was to see the exhibition, "Costume Drama: Fashion from 1790 to 1850". This exhibition contains mostly women's clothing of the period, but also some items of men's and children's clothing. As well as silk day and evening dresses, the exhibition includes clothing worn by less affluent members of society; a day dress from 1837-39 belonging to a member of a local farming family, and a countryman's fustian and cotton corduroy suit, dated 1830-40.

My favourite part of the exhibition was a set of four, "dresses worn by affluent ladies". After my gripe about the Glamour exhibition in Bath, I was thrilled to see that these were displayed in a way which allowed you to look at them in detail, front and back.

silk dresses; evening dress 1800-1810, day dress 1841-1846, evening dress 1841-1846

To see more images from the exhibition, click here.

Fortunately it was a lovely sunny day (at last), so Mr Tulip was able to stroll round the gardens and go for a walk while I studied the costumes at length!

I had one final reason for visiting Sudley House. When I came to Liverpool as a student, I initially lived in a hall of residence, University Hall. It consisted of three large Victorian houses joined together, and although it was mixed in my day, it had been set up in the late nineteenth century as the first hall of residence for female students. The three houses were called Holt, Melly and Hardman, after the three ladies who founded it, and their portraits hung in the dining room. I lived in Holt, named after Emma Holt, daughter of George. Her portrait now hangs in the library at her family home, so I popped in to say hello.

Emma Holt, by Percy Bigland