Wednesday, June 29, 2011

May McCutcheon

This is a family photograph of my Great Grandmother, May McCutcheon, with a group of seven girls holding bamboo and paper fans.  Isn't it the most wonderful image?  Written on the backing board of the picture is: "May McCutcheon with class of fan dancers 1905 Hawkes Bay.  The photograph is mounted in the frame so that it is sitting against the glass, which has caused the surface of the photograph to break down and adhere to the glass where the pale blue marks are.   

Written above the photograph on the brown card the photograph is mounted on:

"These gave a fan drill item at the school concert"

and on the lower edge of the photograph: Pukahui.  

I love the dress May is wearing, and would love to recreate it, I know I say that all the time.

The photograph does not show all the detail of the dress, or what colour it is. but I love the gathered sleeves, with their wide lace frills. 

The girls are dressed in full gathered dresses with deep lace on their sleeves, and sashes across their shoulders that tie on the side at their waists.  There is a special name for these, but I just can't remember what it is, points for any clever darling who can though.

Don't you love the gathered sleeve with its little bow and lace frill?

The dresses look like they are made of soft cottons, maybe a muslin or lawn.

May's Vestee

This lace front belonged to May, and was recently given to me by an Aunt.  It inspired me to find out a little more about my Great Grandmother, who died before I was born.  The lace front was pinned on with the same safety pins you can see on the lower edge, and my Aunt remembers watching her pin it on under her jacket.

May's lace front is similar to the "Vestee" in this advertisement from a 1930 Sear's Catalogue,and it is likely to be from this era or a little earlier.  

A detail of the design on the lace.  If you want help identifying lace, the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney has a great reference for lace identification on its website:

A close up of the right side of the embroidered machine made net, or needle run lace.

A close up of the back of the fabric.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Crochet Buttons from the Brain Watkins

Do you remember these buttons from the Brain Watkins House?

Image courtesy Tauranga Historical Society

 With their delightful button moulds or molds.

Image courtesy Tauranga Historical Society

Well I am happy to say that I have found out a little more about these delightful buttons from a book titled: The Collector's Encyclopedia of Buttons, by Sally C. Luscomb.  An American book it does largely focus on American makers and buttons, but still a great source of information on buttons and the different materials they are made of.

The Collector's Encyclopedia of Buttons

 This is an illustration from the book, unfortunately the quality is not very good, but if you look at the white   button in the middle of the top row, it is identical to the image above this one of the button in the 
Brain Watkins House.

The book states: "Crochet: A type of needlework made with a hook, sometimes used to cover buttons.  At first it was made by hand, later by machine.  "Caps" were crocheted, then placed over wooden molds that had first been covered with fine silk threads.  The caps were sewed on the back to hold them in place."  

Black crochet button from: The Collector's Encyclopedia of Buttons

"Black and white crocheted buttons are quite easily found today, but these buttons are also found in pastel and deeper colors.  Crocheted buttons first became fashionable in the 1880's.  Sometimes beads were put on the thread as the cap was being crocheted, the beads being the same color as the thread. 

Crocheted covered buttons again became popular in the early 1900's.  The caps of this period often were patterned and made of cotton and linen threads for women's cotton and linen dresses and suits.  These buttons are found with cardboard molds, or in the case of ball-shaped buttons, stuffed with cotton."

As the buttons in the collection of the Brain Watkins' have wooden moulds, this would suggest that the crochet buttons are from the 1880's.

Image courtesy Tauranga Historical Society
This is a piece of crochet from the Brain Watkins, it measures approximately 50mm across, and the wooden moulds found in the box are 30mm, this would make the crochet circle the right size for the moulds.  The crochet circles were found in a separate box, with a selection of similar crocheted pieces, and threads.

 Crochet buttons were made in Ireland and France, and the crochet pieces found in the house along with thread and fine crochet hooks, suggest that the Brain women may have made some of these buttons. 

Friday, June 24, 2011

A question for my followers

Hallo once again my precious darlings.  I have been looking back over my previous posts and have noticed that whenever I do a formal post on the Brain Watkins House or an item out of the collection in the house, I get very few or no comments.  It seems to me, that the posts I do on things I am making or doing, are more interesting to you.  Is this the case, cos this blog is yours as much as mine.  Please could you let me know what are your favourite posts, and what would you like to see more of.  I want to start work on a range of textile jewellery, and wonder if you would like to see more of this.  Would you like me to show you how to make clothes, for example I have been thinking of recreating the rayon blouse from the Brain Watkin, like a step by step of how to make, as it has so many wonderful couture techniques in it.  Do you just want to see beautiful things, or are you interested in what Jzho Jzho is doing and making.




give me some feedback.

I want this blog to be something you love so please tell me what you would like the content to be.  PS I have bought a really nice camera - at great expense - to get better quality photos for you, so now I just need to know which way to go.  

Do you want?

                           a)  More on the history of fashion
                           b) More on the textiles, (buttons, patterns, clothing and embroidery etc), in the Brain                              Watkins House
                           c) More about Jzho Jzho and the creative projects she is working on
                           d) A mix of all of the above, much like it is now

Thank you so much for your help and encouragement.

Love and kisses to you all

Jzho  Jzho

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Poodle Collar

Poodle Style

Work on the poodle collar has progressed but first let me remind you what this is all about, the love of poodles. When you  get down to it, is there anything to compare with poodle style?

These are staunch dogs, trained to hunt, and clipped to protect their chests from attack, poodles are more than you may think.

So we went with the hounds-tooth tweed, loved the Chanel feel, and after all the poodle is quintessentially French.

Lined the collar with white silk taffeta, and found a retro black Bakelite buckle from my collection that seemed to suit.

The coloured threads turned out to be all wrong and so worked around the edges of the poodle with pearled seed beads.  So is it working?  The next problem is how to join the beaded poodle disc to the collar.  I am inspired by the remains of a chatelaine in the collection in the Brain Watkins House.

A beautiful piece of textile work, and something quite unusual don't you think.

Now I have looked a little more closely at it, I must say, I am intrigued, as I have no idea how this beautiful piece was made.  I will need to study it in closer depth, so wait for the big reveal, if you too are interested in how this chatelaine cord was made.

I like the raised satin stitch in this image, maybe a chain of rings made with this technique.  

What do you think? 

So it is Au Revoir ma cherie, et a la prochaine.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Rayon Blouse from The Brain Watkins House

All images courtesy of Tauranga Historical Society
Hallo my textile loving darlings, today I have a special treat from the Brain Watkins House, the sweet little blouse you see above.  I believe it to be from the 1930's, and made by a skilled seamstress.  In this post I am going to walk you through its construction.  I would love to recreate it myself, and it would be fun to work through it with a group of others interested in learning some sewing skills from days gone by.

First lets take a look at the fabric the blouse is made of.  I think it is a rayon fabric.  Rayon was the first man made fabric, but not a synthetic as it was  made from regenerated and purified cellulose derived from plant sources, from soft woods, or the short fibres (linters) that adhere to cotton seeds.  First patented in 1894 in England, the first commercially produced rayon appeared around 1910, and was called artificial silk, and was a cheap replacement for silk. The fabric later became known as viscose rayon.  

Rayon was the miracle fabric of the 1930's, its versatility of production, as a continuous filament yarn, or as short filaments that could be twisted and spun into a yarn, meant that it could be used to recreate almost any fabric.  Silk, satin, crepes, crepe de chine, velvet, boucle, garbardine: rayon could do almost anything. 

The link below will take you to Tuppence Ha'penny Vintage, a great blog that has so much information on rayon, it is really not worth me trying to repeat it.  If you want to know more it is all there, thanks Charlotte for a great post.

So my dear Watson, from all this, my deduction is that this blouse is made from a lightweight pale apricot rayon crepe.

From a museum perspective the acidic nature of cellulose means the rayon fabric like a cheap paper has a self destructive nature, and this along with the wear on the fabric from perspiration stains, is the cause of the dark staining seen under the arms, and the extensive foxing, (rust coloured spots).  These are a sign that the fabric is degenerating. 

So here is a complete description of the blouse, something you might see on a catalogue card or museum database.

Pale apricot pink rayon crepe blouse with short sleeves, and decorative smocking in triangular shapes on sleeves and both sides of the front of the blouse running from the shoulder seams.  

The shirt has a rounded collar, and front inset that have been worked in a technique similar to tape lace, but using tubes of the rayon, sewn by machine, in place of tape, and hand sewn with a twisted faggoting stitch and spider stitch. 

The collar is cut from a single layer of the rayon crepe fabric, 25mm wide, with rounded ends, and edged with the crepe tube lace, and machine sewn into the neck.  

This neck seam is finished like a French seam with a second row of machine stitching that forms a drawstring tube for the tube of fabric that forms the neck tie to run through, this is threaded through this seam and runs around the neck. The front opening closes at the throat with a bow which ties at the throat, and the lace panel around the opening has a rounded lower edge.  

The edge of the face fabric for this inset has first been finished with a running backstitch turning a 2mm wide raw edged seam, finished and held in place with the loops of the twisted faggot stitch as it has been worked into the front panel.  The work is finely and skilfully done, the stitches difficult to see with the naked eye.  

The smocking is worked with a twisted apricot/pink embroidery thread that has a glossy surface, this may be a rayon, silk or cotton thread.  

The hem of the blouse has an inset of 6mm wide white elastic, set in like a drawstring, with a 17mm wide turn-over of the rayon crepe that would have been gathered by the elastic forming a frill.  
The side seams are set 650mm from into the back of the blouse, rather than running down the true side seam.  The side seams, and sleeve seams are sewn by machine and are French seams.  The elastic is sewn in with two rows of machine stitching. 

The shoulder seams, and sleeve armhole seams are sewn by machine and finished with a running hand stitch.  

The sleeves are only gathered along 70mm at the top of the armhole, (35mm on each side of the shoulder seam), and are 190mm long from the top to the edge of the lower edge. 

The hem of the sleeve is bound with a bias cut strip of the rayon crepe, that has been sewn onto the right side of the sleeve, turned to form a 4mm wide tube, and hand sewn  with a diagonal running stitch on the inside edge.

This blouse is skilfully made, by a professional dressmaker or talented home sewer.  It demonstrates many embroidery and couture techniques.  The style and fabric suggest it was made in the 1930’s the Sear’s Catalogue was showing smocked blouses like this in its 1936 edition.  It was in the 1930's that Dunlop scientists were able to transform latex into reliable elastic thread, and elastic fabrics began to change the form of underwear and clothing.

A little treasure don't you think, and also a reference or archive of sewing techniques, that are being lost because we are not teaching our children to sew, and probably do not know how to sew ourselves any longer either.  

Finally I have to leave you with this link, please go and have a quick look, watch the video, start to think about your clothes and crafts in a different way.