Sunday, 22 January 2012

Pink Brocade Dress

After two days in the studio looking at flags from the Peninsula Wars (quite beautiful but in the most terrible state), I headed off for the first of my three study days at the Museum of London.  I am looking at a rather interesting dress that was originally the property of Queen Charlotte.  In writing this, I have just noticed the uncanny connection that I was, for two days looking seven silk guidons that are shot to pieces and literately disintegrating in the acid free that they are housed in, switching to Queen Charlotte's cast off silk dresses.  The Hanoverian connection is spooky - I live for the 18th Century!

Hilary Davidson,  the assistant curator at the MofL is wonderfully helpful, informative and approachable.  I had seen this dress previously in another visit and it had caught my eye as the dress was immaculate in its transformation from a mid 18th century gown to its  late 19th century incarnation.  The work began with a thorough look see of the garment, taking measurements and really casting my over the dress.  It is a combination of 18th century silk brocade and 19th century silk (satin weave in cream).  Its current style is an 1880s dress with a centre front fastening.  I will be taking some more photos of the garment on a mannequin hopefully on my next visit.  The dress is both hand and machine sewn with extreme skill.  There was certainly  not much evidence to show that it had been re-fashioned.  The only evidence I could see was that on the underside of the arms, two triangular inserts both of different sizes had been sewn,  other than that it looked immaculate.

1750-1770 Silk Brocade from a gown originally belonging to Queen Charlotte
However,  here's where Hilary came in.  Above both cuffs is about 20cm of rouching.  The brocade has been rouched and used as a form of embellishment.  Hilary showed me that if I looked for seam lines within the rouching and followed them I could probably find more evidence of the original 18th century dress.  She was right.  There they all were.  I couldn't believe it - beautiful 18th century stitching.  I was told this was probably the bodice of the original dress re-used as decoration!  How amazing is that.  Hilary also showed me some 18th century folds and seams which I had completely missed.   The stitching was much closer to the selvage.  Our 18th century seamstresses generally stitched closer to the selvage.  Of course they did why waste the fabric?   I just didn't see them.   The wrong side of the silk looked very different from any other 18th century silk that I have seen.  More like a silk woven on a Jacquard loom.  Interesting.   I picked up Natalie Rothstein's book and am going to have a good old read about the silk industry in 18th Century Britain and France so I can get a clear under standing of how the silk was manufactured.   A very informative day.  Back next week.
Wrong side of the silk brocade.

1973 Dress
It's been made and and sits beautifully on Hilda but no photo as yet because I need to adjust the hem and sew the buttons on the cuffs.    Went to D & M Buttons to get my little buttons covered.  My boyfriend in there has offered to take me to Barcelona as he said I looked tired.  I might take him up on it.  I am  pleased with the outcome as I feel that I have taken this project to it's natural conculsion.  I did unpick the sleeves.   The nice fine cotton was easy to unpick and the stitch marks barely visible.  I will be interested to see what Becky, Kay and Linda have to say.

1940s Shirt.
The 1/2 size pattern has been made and I am working on the sleeves which will be cut from the skirt.  I am inspired by the Biba sleeves in the 'Black in Fashion' V & A book.  Unfortunately, there is not enough fabric to create full length sleeves.  I keep working.  I really want to get this finished before my tutorial on 8th February.

Fashion Illustration For Absolute Beginners
Celia, our teacher is lovely.  I'm getting better.  I really am.  I enjoyed myself this week and think that I am beginning to really understand about weight distribution.  Finally, I have understood that holding the pencil up thing.  When I was at Goldsmiths, that teacher Peter Cresswell explained it to me so many times but I never got it.  Well, I got it yesterday.  The class is fun.

Books I am Reading This Week
Silk Designs of the Eighteenth Century by Natalie Rothstein.  It's fabulous but everybody know that.
Still on Visualizing Research.  This is a very good book and has really cleared up in my mind the objective of the 'Literature Review'.  In the book it's called a 'contextual review' which I like.  It clarifies it more in my mind.
Additionally, just because I love it 'Couture or Trade:  An early pictorial record of the London College of Fashion.'

Quirky Photo
On my way to the tube station yesterday.  I saw this shoe sitting on a bin.  I knew it was fairly old or 'vintage' at a glance.  I looked around for its partner but she wasn't there.  The shoe was 'Made in England' and I didn't recognise the brand.  Made in Northampton?  In its day it was a cheap shoe but as a vintage item it had a certain touch of charm about it.

Lone Shoe in Wilesden

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