I went out into the garden today, and who did I find there but Pipi.
She was relaxing in the sun, happy that she was finally finished, and quite keen to get to work selling socks for Margaret at the Cargo Shed.
Pippi called me over because she had a secret to tell me. She was very excited and happy because she had been told that Princess Isabella was coming to New Zealand in January. She was hoping that the Princess might come to the Cargo Shed and visit her there, or maybe she might get a day off to go and see the Princess.
As I walked towards her
She jumped up with excitement saying, I just can't wait.
So there she is all finished and wearing her crochet top and skirt specially designed for her by Margaret. Now all she needs is a pair of little woolen socks and she will be hard at work.
A kind friend who knew I was interested in the history of fashion and costume, gave me a collection of Seventeen magazines from the 1950's, that she had kept since her teenage years. Thank you Briar, they are real treasures and I would like to feature some images from them here. What a wonderful era of fashion the 50's were. Dior's New Look, and the end of WWII, drew women back to domesticity, femininity, and sexuality. The look drew its inspiration in many ways from the 1850-60's in the Victorian era, and women were encouraged to look demure and passive.
And those tiny waists, what was going on under there?
This Featherlight-4-in-1 Flex-o-lette has boning inserted in the seams, making it quite similar in construction to the corsets of the Victorian era.
You could even purchase crinoline type petticoats, made modern and young with a new name - Hoop-la.
And massive frilled petticoats to hold the skirt out further, to make the waist look even smaller.
New fabrics were being developed, and women were no longer prepared to suffer discomfort and lack of movement to fetish their waistline.
Rubber was first transformed into a textile fabric in the 1930's and the first fabrics were known as Lastex.
Don't you love this image, we always want to have it all don't we. So my precious darlings now you have a little insight into how the 1950's women achieved those tiny waists and pencil slim figures. Come back soon and I will show more of the wonderful dresses from the little collection of Seventeen magazines that I have. There are a couple I would love to sew for myself, I might put those up soon and you could tell me what you think. Kiss kiss my darlings until next time.
Hallo my hat loving darlings, here are some more wonderful hats from the Brain-Watkins House. This dreamy little blue felt hat is a Tam-o-Shanter, a Scottish hat originally only worn by men, that was adopted by women and became a popular fashion accessory.
Here is a tartan version in the Scottish style, this one comes with hair.
The name of the hat was inspired by a Scottish legend that was written as a poem by Robert Burns, the most famous of Scottish poets. Tam o Shanter was chased by witches on his way home from the pub, and only saved because his mare's tail came off in the hand of the young witch chasing him.
Here is another version in quilted cotton, with a jaunty little bow on the side.
Hallo my historical darlings, let me show you another room in the wonderful little house known as, The Brain-Watkins'House. The Victorian Villa built in 1881, that still sits on Cameron Road in Tauranga. Come and see the bedroom, known as Elva's bedroom, because it is set up with many of her personal belongings. However it is believed that the room now known as the pink bedroom, was actually the room Elva slept in.
This wiew shows the remains of the fireplace, which has been boarded up, and now functions as a display area for some of the dresses in the collection.
It is also where a part of the hat collection is displayed.
The top of the dressing table houses a collection of personal artifacts. Look closely at this display, it has been set up as a display of the objects, it doesn't feel natural. No woman would lay her shoe horn, tablecloth duster, clothe's brush, and hand mirror in a line like that. My feeling is that this makes this dressing table look more like a museum display, rather than a group of personal objects in a private setting. Displays in historic houses look great when they give the impression the owner of the house has just walked away and left an area as she or he was using it. This can take a lot of careful research, to gain an understanding of the life, personal habits, and taste of a person, so that you start to unravel and understand their personalities. For me, as a social historian, this is when historic houses become really interesting.
This beautiful stand-alone wardrobe, with its elegant oval beveled mirror, has a small group of hat cases stored on it. These metal cases were popular when train travel was the way of travelling from one end of the country to the other, and woman wore hats. The strong metal cases protected the hats when they were stowed in storage, when one went on a journey.
False sleeves, like the one below were worn in the nineteenth century, and were either pinned or sewn into the sleeves of bodices, so that they could be removed from the dress and washed, to protect the bodice or gown, which was more difficult to launder. Known as engageantes, they were the height of fashion in the mid 19th century.
Here is a false sleeve from the textile collection of The Elms Mission House and Library. It is made from a fine cotton lawn, and is completely hand sewn.
The pleats of the pleated frill of the sleeve have been basted to hold them in place.
This sleeve is also from the collection at The Elms. It has been edged with a delicate lace.
Here is the dress I am making for a display in the washroom of the servant's building at The Elms. I wanted to make false sleeves and a chemisette, so that visitors could see how these were worn and how they detached from the garment. Here is an image of the sleeve pinned in place.
What do you think?
I found a tiny little button from my collection for the cuff. I haven't quite finished them yet, but when I have, I will do a post about the making of these sleeves, I have patterns if anyone is interested.
Pinned to this label were 3 children's garments, (you can see the pinholes in the paper), a linen shirt, a lawn shirt and a knitted shirt . The label is hand-drawn and the coloured letters painted by hand. It dates the 3 garments to 1702.
This is the lawn shirt, and it is 41cm from one sleeve end to the other, and 23cm long. It is for a younger child than the linen shirt I have previously blogged about, which measured 49 x 33cm. The lawn fabric is also softer than the linen, with a smooth hand almost like satin. It is a delicate, finely woven plain weave cotton. The shirt would fit a 6 month to one year old child.
The shoulder has a strip of insertion lace, edged with edging lace on each side. The insertion lace is so fine I cannot see how it is made. I was about to take some macro photos so that I could get a closer look at it, and my battery went flat. Damn that battery.
This is the best image I could get, I will have to blog about the lace in another post. This shirt is finer than anything I have ever seen, the skill of the woman who worked it, and the fineness of the tools she must have used, surpasses anything I have encountered in the heritage collections I have worked with. It is a treasure of great importance.
The shirt is completely hand-sewn and is so finely done, it is difficult to make out the individual stitches without the aid of a magnifying glass. The stitches running around the edge of the neckline are less than 1 mm long. I am not sure at this stage, but the lace around the neck edge appears to be hand made bobbin lace.
I love this little gusset under the sleeve, this shirt is made with similar techniques to an 18th century countryman's smock.
This image shows the seams, and hems of the sleeve. The photo does not do this shirt justice as their is no scale rule to show how tiny these stitches are. I will have to do another post with better photos, so enjoy what I have posted and look forward to more to come