Fan-tastic time

Apologies for the awful pun but could not resist! We had a lovely day this Wednesday with the fan workshop and then a meal out with the sewing group. I am so lucky to have met such a wonderful group of very talented people and love meeting up with them every week.

The workshop was led by Vivien who has embroidered 70 fans herself and runs a lace stitching group every week at her home. I don’t think I am going to have time to do this regularly but loved learning the little bit that we did this week. It will probably take a while for the project to be finished as I have to do all of the others first but it is just the sort of quiet and intricate stitching that I love.

The motifs we made are to be glued on to a fan, I chose a white one but there were many others available.

There were various flower motifs to choose from, that Vivien had already drawn onto the orange backing fabric. The tulle is then basted on top.

Since I wear a lot of purple, and fans are an essential item here in the summer I chose purple thread for my contrast colour.

This type of lace is called needle run lace and there are many different regional variations of it.

The stitching involves a running stitch through the holes in the tulle to start with and then going back and oversewing each line to secure it as we will eventually cut around each motif. You then fill in the larger areas of the motif with your choice of filling stitch. The pictures below show Debbie hard at work on her blue flower.

Mary did hers in black, this will be put on a white fan.

There were some other fans that members of Vivien’s lace group have been working on, this one is Linda’s.

This is Claudia’s showing use of more than one colour. Some of the filling stitches are very similar to those used in blackwork.

These will be attached to fan fames, rather than stuck on to ready made fans. They are such amazing work, the result of many, many hours of stitching.

I wasn’t able to find many resources on this type of lace but did find this useful website. There are so many different varieties of lace and I love seeing them on my museum visits. Lace is something that is often found in portraits as well. I have been doing more research recently for the novel that I am writing, based partly at Hardwick Hall. This is one of my favourite portraits, of Queen Elizabeth 1st. Lace was very popular in Tudor times for the wonderful ruffs.

I am also writing about Mary, Queen of Scots, as she spent a lot of time with Bess of Hardwick during her captivity doing needlepoint embroidery.

As well as a course on the history of canals I am also doing a course about Mary, run by a fantastic organisation called Futurelearn. I have done lots of their history courses and they are really good. There are some beautiful pictures in this course. They have lots of interesting free courses and I have also done their creative writing ones which have been very helpful with my novel. I feel like I have got to keep the old brain from turning to mush now I no longer have to think for a living!

Cycling has been going well, another 25km ride on Sunday, I stopped off at the beach for a paddle half way through as it was very hot!

It is actually raining now, we have had some very impressive thunder and lightening this morning but normal weather service will be resumed tomorrow and we will be back to 23 degrees. Next week I am going on a coach trip to a fancy dress fiesta, so will be taking lots of pictures of the costumes there for you to admire. I do love a good fiesta ๐Ÿ˜‰

Hope you have all had a nice week and have a lovely weekend ahead. Have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

The importance of dress

Ahead of this week’s lace workshop I thought that I would share with you a recent visit to Bankfield Museum in Halifax. I have visited the museum three times before and it is always a wonderful place to explore. Two of the visits have included displays about Anne Lister, now more well known through the TV series ‘Gentleman Jack’, but also for her travels and her diaries.

I first became interested in her as a traveller and I posted about that visit here. At the time there was not a link to her clothing as this was prior to the first series, but a couple of years ago we went back and saw some of the costumes from the first series. The museum is only small but as well as the changing exhibitions it has a fantastic costume gallery and holds the largest collection of textiles outside the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

The exhibition this time was of costume from the second TV series. It was also supported by an exhibition of garments from the same period from the museum collection so it was fascinating to see what the costume production team had done with the recreations. The pictures below are from the museum’s collection from that era.

It was particularly amazing to see the very tiny shoes!

I also love the fact that they still have pattern books from that time. Halifax has always been a centre of textile production which is why the museum has such an extensive collection.

These pictures show the costumes from the second series, each costume is also accompanied by a shot from the series so that you can see it in context.

They are absolutely stunning and so detailed in their execution. This below is one of Anne’s outfits and the braid detail on the jacket is beautiful.

The accompanying outfit in this picture was worn by her wife Ann, I have tried to do braid like that on clothing and it is incredibly difficult!

I love the black organza blouse in this red evening gown above.

There is such beautiful smocking on Ann’s artist’s shirt above in the middle picture.

The bottom row of pictures above show dressing gowns and nightshirts, I would love the one on the left, so pretty!

I was particularly fascinated by these reproduction hats with lots of lace.

I think the lace on this one above was made by the same method that we will be using this coming week, of stitching onto tulle, rather than bobbin or woven lace but am not sure.

One of the things that Anne is remembered for is her ‘masculine ways’, she dressed in male clothing, married a woman, (although this was not legally recognised), ran a business and travelled extensively, often to places that were not usually visited at that time, such as Russia. She actually died in Georgia while on that trip in 1840 and her wife had her body brought back to the UK.

For me Anne is a very great inspiration. Not just because she chose to dress the way that she did, but because she was not afraid to express herself, and her desires. Looking at her story one may think that we have come a long way from the days where it was not acceptable to marry and live your life as you wanted, but there is still a long way to go, even for people who are not fighting prejudice.

There are the everyday concerns of women about travelling on their own, even about walking home on their own. As you know this summer I have been travelling on my own around the UK and met many women who are also on their own. People have told me that I am very brave to do this but I just feel that I am following in the footsteps of all the other great women who have gone off exploring. Realistically not very much is going to happen to me at a Caravan and Camping Club site in the Peak District is it ๐Ÿ˜‰

I have also joined a Facebook group that supports women who may not feel comfortable travelling alone, by holding meet ups and offering a space for advice and help with practical things. Many of the members have lost partners, who previously did the driving and maintenance, or are now feeling lonely and don’t want to camp by themselves. It is wonderful to have that support, both online and in person and I am looking forward to meeting up with more of them next summer.

I may now be able to wear what we want without causing concern, I can wear trousers anywhere I want, or have my hair short and display many ‘masculine ways’. However many women across the world can’t do without fear of reprisal. Equally men often face prejudice for wanting to wear what may be considered as ‘feminine attire’. That is why I love the Steampunk community so much as you see such wonderful expressions of dress such as this stunning outfit.

What we wear is not just about keeping warm, or displaying our social status and our ability to afford the fine lace and hand stitched garments of the 1800s. It is about who we are, and who we want to be and here’s hoping for a future where no-one feels that they can’t express themselves the way that they want to. That is before we all end up wearing silver jumpsuits as my 12 year old self was sure was going to happen by the year 2000!

That is why museums are so important as they give us the chance to see things that make us question the way that we live now. I hope that everyone that goes to see the costumes thinks about this aspect as well as admiring the skill of the many talented people who made them.

As well as the workshop this week I am looking forward to another cycle ride, I have been doing between 25 and 30 km each ride which is amazing to me considering the state of my health before I retired. It is so lovely to get out into the countryside and go down to the sea. It is still around 25 degrees each day here, although the nights are a little cooler now so I will soon be using my outdoor firepit ๐Ÿ™‚ Although it has sometimes been a bit cloudy here it is clearing up and so the lovely sunsets are back, just look at these colours!

I have been very productive craft wise as well, I will finish the Luna rabbit today and hopefully also the Christmas dress for the reindeer. So I should be able to share some finishes of those soon. I hope that you are all having a nice weekend, have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Stepping back in time, in many respects

This post is going back to some of my travels this past summer, to tell you about all the loveliness from museums that I did not have chance to post about when I was travelling. As you may expect it involves re-enactment and historic costume ๐Ÿ™‚

Our first trip was a very special day out to visit our friends in our re-enactment group, Swords of Mercia, most of whom we had not seen for about 2 years. We were not able to join in the full event at Nottingham Castle, due to number restrictions because of the virus, but did have a very lovely day in Nottingham.

We found a beautiful location for lunch, completely by accident, just wandering through the city centre. The Nottingham Secret Garden is one of the many venues that have adapted brilliantly to outside eating and drinking, despite the British weather and we had a delicious tapas lunch there. The interior rooms are also beautiful, though I don’t think that they are open at the moment.

The encampment at the castle was smaller than usual, due to the need to keep distancing but it all worked really well and our friends had a lovely time doing both show and tell and small fight demonstrations. There were people from lots of groups there, all representing different time periods in the castle’s history.

We have some hugely talented people in our group and both of our leatherworkers have spent the down time due to the pandemic refining their skills. Symon and David both do exceptional work making scabbards and bags. These are some of David’s beautiful sword scabbards. If you ever need anything like this, or a decorated leather bag, or a beautiful bespoke hair ornament do visit Buffy Historical Leatherwork and Lionhead Leather.

We were also excited to visit the newly refurbished museum within the castle. After a quick stop in the cafรฉ for a gluten -free cream tea and a look at their fabulous button wall, we headed for the lace and costume displays.

Nottingham is famous for its lacemaking, firstly hand made lace and latterly machine lace so the displays were fascinating. There were some gorgeous garments from the last 150 years.

They also had lots of samples of lace and the jacquard machines and hole punch cards that were used to make the fabric.

One of my favourite things was this panel commemorating World War 2. A small but really well thought out exhibition with lots of information and very interesting pictures of the lace makers and their craft. Well worth a visit.

We have been invited back to Nottingham Castle to do another event this coming July, fingers crossed we can all go this time, so looking forward to it. Hopefully all of the events that are planned will be able to go ahead this year.

Jacky has been doing some work to the campervan as we go away again in a couple of weeks which is very exciting. I have had a busy week with trying to perfect reversing into parking spaces on my driving lessons, continuing with my very enjoyable creative writing course on Zoom with the WEA, and working on my novel. I have now written 11, 958 words so far and it is really starting to take shape. It takes me back to the days of writing the doctorate, thankfully over a year ago now. It so lovely to be writing things just for me and I am thoroughly enjoying the process.

I hope life is good with all of you, and that you are enjoying your weekend whatever you are doing. I will be back soon with more lovely museum textiles so until then have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Bright lights, big city!

Happy New Year to you all, let’s hope 2022 is a year when we can do the simple things like meeting up with family and friends more often without worrying, and plan things without the risk of them being cancelled.

I have been lucky enough to meet up with lots of people over Christmas, seeing all of my ex work colleagues and friends in Marsden before a lovely time in Edinburgh over Christmas with Ellen. I am now staying with my sister in Worcester for a few months and start driving lessons again in a couple of days so wish me luck!

I will post later about Edinburgh but wanted to show you the lovely things in Manchester first. This was a last minute decision as I was going to stay with my brother, but due to the fact that he had to isolate when coming back from Spain decided to go there for a little tour of some of the places I had never visited.

I stayed at the Salford Quays development in a very cute little room in an Ibis Budget hotel. This was only a short tram ride from central Manchester and I got to admire all of the amazing tower blocks on the way in to the city.

The area was created out of the old dockland area from the era when ships used to sail as far as America via the Manchester Shipping Canal, as Manchester is a long way from the sea. It was one of the first urban regenerations in the early 1980s.

Within the modern shopping malls there were some lovely photos of the old docks and the workers are commemorated along the walkways with art and poetry. I spent a lovely couple of hours wandering around the new areas admiring the Christmas lights and the sheer scale of the buildings there.

My first visit was to the Manchester Art Gallery. Their fashion collection is still being developed but they had some beautiful art depicting costume, which I always love looking at.

There were also some very interesting other exhibitions looking at the role of ‘unskilled workers’, particularly during the pandemic.

That afternoon was a visit to the Manchester Jewish Museum, which is housed in the old Spanish/Portuguese Synagogue which was so beautiful. I have never visited a synagogue before so it was very interesting and very well interpreted with oral history recordings from the people that used to worship there.

There was also a separate museum with the history of the many people who had come to Manchester to settle, which was again full of the personal stories and belongings. I love museums like this that tell the history of ordinary people, it is so important that their stories are not lost.

I was also lucky enough to come across The Portico Library, a beautiful little subscription library that was founded in 1806 and had a quick look around. They had a lovely exhibition on ‘polite literature’ and they also have some resources on fiction writing that I am going to follow up on You Tube.

The final visit was to The People’s History Museum, which is a museum about the history of democracy and has many really interesting sections on the struggle for votes and worker’s rights. Some of these I remember well as they happened during my teens and early twenties. They also had a really interesting collection of banners, from the simple home-made ones of the 1970s and 80s to the very elaborate ones of the Victorian and Arts and craft era.

It was a lovely couple of days and it was nice to visit some of the smaller, less well-known museums in the city. After a busy few weeks I am looking forward to a nice quiet time here. I have bought a new sewing machine with lots of decorative stitches and am looking forward to trying that out this coming week so you never know there may be more evidence of crafting on the blog very soon!

I hope that you all have a nice week ahead, have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Other things to keep me occupied

Hope you are all coping with lockdown, self isolation or still going to work if you are a key worker, if you are a million thanks for all that you are doing. All have their own stresses, and it is important that we find ways to stay occupied or stress free. Not that I really need any more projects but I find having some structure to what you are doing helps with what can otherwise be a week that just blurs into doing the same thing every day and it is also important that I don’t spend too much time staring at a screen.

I am officially back at work tomorrow but my lovely employer has given us extra days off over Easter as we have had a pretty manic couple of weeks so will only be working for two days this coming week. That and the fact that I am probably not going to need all of my leave this summer means that I am going to have the joy of having a long weekend on quite a few of the coming weeks.

It seems a little bizarre that I spent all of the first term working six days a week and teaching so many Saturdays and I am now working so much less. It is very nice though, I am looking forward to some more little walks like the very lovely one I had today, keeping up with my online learning and other projects.

One of these is going to be the Riley Blake Quilt Block Challenge. Many years ago I did a short quilt block challenge with some friends from my knitting group and although I found some of the blocks difficult I enjoyed the participation. I found out about this challenge from Amy at Diary of a Quilter and she is doing the first block, one of my all-time favourites, the Churn Dash.

I made several scrappy churn dash blocks a few years ago from this tutorial from Amanda Jean from Crazy Mom Quilts. I love using up tiny bits of Liberty like this. I think that I will use my Liberty stash for this challenge as well as I would like some cohesiveness to all of the blocks, but not make them scrappy as I am not sure that would work for all the designs.

Scrappy Churn Dash 1

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I am not sure who else is participating as regards the designers for each block but you can find information on the Riley Blake Instagram. Since I now have an Instagram account I can join in and even use hashtags! This lockdown business is improving my IT skills no end, I have learnt to use Zoom, downloaded Skype though not yet used it, (a little late to the party I know), but my Mum uses it so am hoping I can chat to her more using it as well.

I have also discovered that I can get jigsaw puzzles on my I Pad which has made me very excited ๐Ÿ™‚ย  I have a couple of puzzles that I bought from the charity shop just as we began working from home before lockdown and am also hoping to win an auction for some from Ebay this week. I love jigsaws and always do them when on holiday in Spain so having them here makes me feel more like I am on holiday. Now I have unlimited jigsaws and am especially happy with the ones of beautiful places from around the world. I may not be able to travel for the next few months but I can still look at lovely places.

So I have a busy week ahead planned. It is week three of my fashion history course and we are going to be looking at Georgian fashion. I have enjoyed looking at Stuart fashion this week, I always love the lace in these outfits as in this one dated 1610. Picture from Google search.

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Take care whatever you are doing, have a good week ahead, stay safe and I will see you all again soon.

 

 

Historic costume and historic eateries

I am writing this in the aftermath of another storm, luckily the only damage to me is some blown over bins but we have had a lot of flooding in the area both last weekend and this, which may have contributed to a very strange dream I have last night where I was asked to run a session on the link between climate change and sewing! To my knowledge I don’t think seamstresses and embroiders have any negative effect on the climate, rather we are a force for good ๐Ÿ™‚

We had some more wonderful costumes to look at in Liverpool last week, again in the Walker Art Gallery with a small collection of Regency garments.

It is always particularly fascinating to see these as of course they would have been completely hand stitched, unlike some of the Victorian and Edwardian and are all the more impressive for that. The embroidery on the men’s jackets and waistcoats is just mind blowing, so perfectly done and so detailed.

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I also have finally realised what a polonaise is which is very useful for my Steampunk costumes. Here is an example of one, the fashion of which was revived in Victorian times.It is an overskirt which can be hitched up at the back to create the ruffled look.

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One of the styles that I love is the ‘sack back gown’, with the train at the back and I love the ruffles on this one. It is made of silk which would have been so bright as the time.

There was a small collection of underwear including stays and a shift and also some wonderful padded stockings, for men who did not have the required fashionable shapely calf to go with their breeches.

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There was also the added excitement at the art gallery of coming across some unexpected Pre-Raphelite paintings. I love these, not least for their medieval costumes and amazing attention to detail in the work, especially the backgrounds of the paintings.

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We also had some lovely meals out in historic eateries, we chose our lunch venue on Saturday from Google Maps based on the fact that it was located in an old church and it did not disappoint.

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The Alma de Cuba took over the de-consecrated church in 2005 and have very tastefully combined the original architecture with its new function as a restaurant and nightclub. I loved the fact that it was candlelit and had strings of lights in the ceiling. Many of the bars were lit in this way with fairy lights and it looks so lovely in the gloomy weather.

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We chose a little vintage style cafe Rhubarb for our very lovely brunch on Sunday , near our accommodation in Lark Lane, which has lots of really beautiful historic buildings and a wide selection of places to eat.

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We sadly did not mange the Victorian pumping house converted into a pub for lunch due to coming home early but will save that for next time.

I have finished one of the celebration projects, 19 hours sewing of lace has been completed this week, in 3 days actually which impressed even me! I had a very nice time doing that and will be able to show you the photos in a few weeks.

I am now just about to start on another dress after a very successful shopping trip to the wonderful Bombay Stores yesterday. I was very good and only spent ยฃ4 on needles, invisible thread and a metre of lovely braid but there were many yards of glorious fabric purchased by my friends for the event which is in April. There will be all sorts of lovely costume at that one as it is Middle Earth themed so I will make sure that I take lots of photos for you.

I am off to a writing retreat with work tomorrow to work on the revisions on my doctorate. Not as much fun as sewing but it will be lovely to spend time with colleagues and it is a very beautiful place. I have been twice before and am really looking forward to a few nice walks as well, weather permitting.

I will be back next weekend, hope that you all have a very good week ahead and hopefully there will be no more weird weather. Take care and thanks for visiting.

The leaving of Liverpool

We had a very lovely time this weekend, although we did leave in a bit of a hurry due to the awful stormy weather. We were looking round the Maritime Museum, ironically we had just visited the section on emigration, when the museum closed due to the bad weather so we cut short our visit.

Luckily made it back to the car in one piece as it was very blowy and made it safely home through a few bits of flooded road. I now do not have to leave the house for three days as I am working on my doctoral rewrites and some marking which I am very grateful for! It is now sleeting and very cold out so I shall hide indoors and sew ๐Ÿ™‚

We were there primarily to visit An English Lady’s wardrobe exhibition at The Walker Art Gallery which was very good. It was an unusual exhibition in that it was the collection of one person, Emily Tinne, who was born in 1886 and died in 1966. It was also accompanied by letters that she and her family wrote and photos of them, sometimes wearing the garments.The portrait photo below shows her around the time of her wedding.

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The garments date from around the time of her marriage like this silk evening gown and a beautiful tiny waisted lawn dress with its whitework detail, to the clothes she wore as an older women after seven pregnancies. Emily did comment on how she could not believe that she had ever been so slim.

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The blouse above has the most beautiful embroidered detail on the sleeves and I love the ruffled cuffs. It is the sort of thing that I would love to try and make to go with my Steampunk outfits.The silk dress below has gorgeous embroidery and is one of a collection of her day dresses.

There was also information about the shops in Liverpool that she bought from, copies of adverts from magazines andย  information about her dressmaker so a real social history of the time and fantastic detail for costume historians and sewing enthusiasts.

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There was a little display of some of the sorts of patterns that she used, the illustrations here are gorgeous so I bought a notebook and bookmark from the gift shop with some of these on.

What was lovely was that there were many things that she bought, such as some of the evening gowns, and never wore or that were not even her size or style but the family said that she probably just wanted to keep supporting shops and the salesgirls who worked on commission during the difficult years of the Depression. I think that is a fabulous reason for buying things and one that I can use as well for supporting fabric retailers.

There were also 150 hats in the collection, we were talking to one of the collection stewards and he was telling us that a group had recently visited in 1930s and 40s costume and he loved the hats and why didn’t we all wear hats more often and we both agreed. One of the lovely things about re-enactment and Steampunk is the wearing of hats and head dresses that instantly make you feel more glamorous.

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The evening dresses were, as you would expect from a 20s and 30s collection, full of the most wonderful beading and embroidery.

Emily was also a very good needlewoman and made many of her children’s clothes herself. I love the two versions of this dress with ruffles.

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The smocking on this ivory silk dress below is so skillful and tennis dresses so elegant. The little embroidered dress in white and blue at the bottom of the display is one of the ones there was a photo for, showing her daughter wearing it at the age of about three.

I have been watching some more videos on You Tube about historical costuming while I have been sewing which I will post about another time. It was fascinating to see all of the underwear as one of the vloggers has just made some combinations like the ones here. The detail of the pin tucks and lace is so gorgeous, especially as this was not going to be seen.The last photo is of a chemise that was never worn and still has the price tag on it.

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One of my favourite pieces was this velvet evening jacket on the left of the picture below. I love wearing velvet, though not sewing it, and I have a gorgeous black jacket that I have added lace to for Steampunk. I also loved this amazing georgette evening cape. I would love to have the skills be able to make something like that.

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We also saw some more Regency gowns which I will post about later and had some lovely meals out in historic properties. There is still so much to see in Liverpool so we will definitely go back and visit more of the museums next year.

I am working on a couple of secret projects for a friend’s wedding and another friend’s partnership celebrations and those are going to take priority for the next few weeks so will only be able to do a little bit of my own crafting in the evenings. I am going to focus on getting some more of the Barbie things finished for the first set of birthdays in April and early May as those and the wedding things have to be done before we go to Japan in only seven weeks!

I hope you are all having a good time and are not too storm damaged. Take care and thanks for visiting.