Sunday, 26 August 2018

Confession time

Yes, I know that I'm meant to be working hard on my dissertation, and most of the time I am indeed working hard on my dissertation. But I've discovered (no great surprise here) that not doing any sewing at all really doesn't agree with me. So to get my stitching fix as efficiently as possible, I decided to make something using a pattern which I'd already made up: that way it would already be altered to fit, and I could get straight on to the sewing.

I'd come across a lovely, buttersoft and very drapey cotton several weeks ago when I was in my local fabric shop - I got chatting to two of the assistants who were 'dressing' one of the window display mannequins, and somehow ended up helping them with the trim placement. Apparently they were going for 'old lady chic'; a look which I think pretty much describes my entire wardrobe!

Remembering this fabric, I decided to remake Vogue 2787.

Vintage Vogue from 1948

I had all sorts of problems making this originally, not helped by my never-mind-the-drape-feel-the-print approach to fabric selection. Oddly enough, the crisp cotton I chose didn't hang in the same manner as the toile made from an old bedsheet! I managed to fix a lot of the problems, and frequent laundering of what was now a favourite dress eased the crispness.

The first version of 2787, aka 'The Feedsack'

In fact, the problem now is that after several years of said laundering, and despite a few mends to fix wear and tear, it is definitely past its best. So a replacement, in a far more suitable fabric, seems like the way to go.

In a couple of weeks, all I've managed to do is the front. Although to be fair, that is quite a job in itself. I remembered that sewing round the curves was really tricky, so used my 1917 hand-crank Singer for the job - it worked a treat.

Progress so far

Now onto the back.

Sunday, 19 August 2018

People who live in glass houses . . .

As part of my studies I've just finished reading Second-Hand Cultures about, unsurprisingly, how second-hand goods fit into consumer culture. In one section, a woman with a love of the 1960s explained how as well as clothes and homeware she also collected items such as 1960s plasticine and sellotape.

I thought that was a bit extreme, until I spotted some safety pins lying on the table, bought in a collection of dress patterns and related sewing items earlier in the week. I could have just unpinned them from the card and put them with the rest of my safety pins (having once been wardrobe mistress to a dance troupe, I always have a lot of safety pins around - old habits die hard!), but I liked the card itself.

So here, by way of 'fessing up, is some of the vintage haberdashery I've acquired over the years. In my defence, it is there to be used. Old snaps and hooks and eyes come in a variety of sizes which just aren't available now, and are useful for things like dress plackets. Vintage bias binding feels softer and much more pleasant than the modern variety.

Other things are simply more attractive, such as the Dorcas pin tin with its black paper lining. Admittedly it is nigh-on impossible to open, but at least there is no chance of dropping it and all the pins falling out. The other pins are from my grandmother's workbox, so almost 100 years old and still rust-free. Several of the bias binding packets advertise 'boil-proof' dyes, from days when laundry practices didn't involve washing at 30 degrees. Some of the Newey hook and eye packets (but not, oddly, the snaps) advertise their royal appointment - I'm quite taken with the idea of Queen Mary doing a bit of mending in her spare time!

The safety pins which prompted this post

The 'Newey' logo through the ages, and other brands

So many brands and widths of bias binding

More Newey products

Sunday, 12 August 2018

The Pleasure Gardens at the Museum of London

More pictures from my London trip, this time from the Museum of London.

Reproduction hat, part of a 1790 costume

Pleasure gardens were outdoor venues which charged an entrance fee. As well as strolling round the gardens themselves, patrons also enjoyed entertainments such as concerts and firework displays. Once inside the gardens however visitors were literally a captive audience, and Vauxhall Gardens in particular was infamous for selling poor quality food in tiny portions at outrageous prices - a tactic familiar to anyone who has flown on a budget airline!

Fortunately no food is involved here; instead the Pleasure Gardens form the backdrop to a display of eighteenth and nineteenth century costume.

The display has been open for some time, and earlier this year it was refurbished with new exhibits: as the museum has 22,000 pieces in its costume and textile collection, there was plenty to choose from! You can read more about the refurbishment here and here.

There wasn't a lot of information about the costumes (or if there was, I didn't spot it), so this is mainly a post of pictures.

1790 dress with reproduction petticoat and fichu

Showing a blurry back view in the mirror

Close-up showing the pleating detail and fly braid trim

Fabric detail, image © Museum of London

The headress reminded me of this print

Chemise dress

Moving on to the nineteenth century

1830 cotton pelisse

Close-up of cotton dress

Victorian archery outfit belonging to Mrs Fanny Giveen

The skirt and belt are originals

Sunday, 5 August 2018

The demon bunny

I've picked this up at a vintage fair a couple of years ago, but never got round to posting about it. The red eyes are definitely a bit alarming - hence the nickname - but it's still strangely appealing.

It is made from some sort of plastic; the head is opaque, but the bottom part is slightly translucent.

The shape, and the animal head, reminds me of canopic jars; the containers used by the ancient Egyptians in the mummification process.

Canopic jars in the British Museum, image from Wikipedia

Fortunately mine just contains needles!