Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Bathroom of The Brain Watkins House

Hidden away at the back of the house, is the cutest little bathroom.

Look at that wonderful little bathtub, how cute is that?

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Mrs. W. H. Wyman Collection

The Bodice of a 19th Century Christening Gown

Lynda this is for you.

Here is a little treat for those who love heritage textiles, the remains of a Christening Gown. The bodice of the gown, is part of a collection of baby clothes belonging to the late Mrs. W.H. Wyman.

The bodice, is made from white cotton lawn, embroidered with white cotton thread.

This photo shows where the once long skirt was cut off, by someone who understood what a treasure it was, and the days and days of work, that would have gone into making it.

The bodice has been repaired many times, here under the arm you can see where it has been darned, to hold the worn fabric, and strengthen it, so that it could be worn by one more descendant of the family, to one more Christening.

There is a repair under the other arm too.

Look at those divine little sleeves, with their delicate hand embroidered frills of cotton lawn. All the embroidery on this bodice was done by hand, the frills are made of strips of the cotton lawn, the holes formed with a stiletto, and then sewn around with buttonhole stitch, the scalloped edges embroidered with the scalloped pattern, and then cut to the scalloped shape. I would love to iron this garment and then photograph it again, as it would look so much better if it had been ironed. However for something this old, I would advise talking to a textile conservator before putting an iron anywhere near it, as it is approximately 150 years old.

Look at that detail. The front of the bodice is worked with rows of piping cord sewn into folds of fabric, and rows of embroidery running down the front panel.

I think the embroidery is Mountmellick work, popular from the 1850's through to the 1880's. The style was started in surprise, surprise, my cherished darlings, Mountmellick, a small town in Ireland. In the 18th century it was a thriving industrial town, with cotton thread and fabric manufacturers. The cotton industry was huge in Britain at this time, and used imported cotton to weave fabric and make thread.

The style of Mountmellick embroidery was started in the 1820's by Mrs. Johanna Carter, a member of the Quaker movement, who decided to help local people through their difficult times by providing work for local distressed gentlewomen. It became a cottage industry, as the stitches were easy to learn, and the textile working tools needed, accessible to most women. Mountmellick work is always worked in white cotton thread on white cotton fabric, with large simple stitches, and is quick and easy to do. This is a wonderful example of it, and was worked by a skilled needlewoman.

The back of the bodice.

It closes simply at the back, with two tiny covered buttons, and two drawstring cords, one on the neck and one on the waist. The gown is completely hand stitched, and finely done.

Look how beautifully the ends of the drawstring housing are finished, with a delicate blanket stitch.

There is so much wonderful detail in this little remnant, even the drawstring cords were made by hand, especially for the gown. Aren't they wonderful?

There are repairs on the back of the bodice, more areas of darning.

The darning repairs are little works of art in their own right, really aren't they.

Just had to show another shot of the sleeves, this is from the back.

You can see how tiny these buttonholes are beside my fingertips, and the delicate little buttonhole stitches used to finish them.

This is a little treasure, an absolute delight. And a wonderful family record, wouldn't it be nice to have an accompanying list of the name and date of every baby that was christened in it.

The Best Way Series No. 16 Coat

Jo Jo's CoatSo let me show you how the embroidery on the coat is going too. Remember the Best Way No. 16 coat that I have been working on.

Don't you love this gorgeous creature?

I have completed the first applique panel. What do you think? It hasn't been pressed yet, and still has the basting stitches in it. So it will look a little crisper when finished.

The fabric, and panels cut from old doilies, were basted on to the houndstooth tweed to hold it firmly in place, and then the fabric edge was sewn to the - OMG I have just realised something, I have been calling this fabric a houndstooth tweed and it is a herring bone. Sorry darlings, how confusing for you.

The edges of the chintz fabric and cotton doily are finished with a blanket stitch sewn by hand with a topstitching thread for denim jeans. This one panel took me two nights while watching TV. Trouble is it makes it hard to go to bed. There are 8 panels on the coat to embroider, so I gotta go, I've got 7 more to do.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Making my first period gown

My house is starting to look like a house museum.

It is my first attempt at period costume, a dress with the look of around the 1840's to 60's. It is aimed at primary school children and is not an overly accurate reproduction. The fabric is synthetic, and the sewing done by machine. The petticoat was donated to me, and has a broiderie anglais border, with horizontal knife pleats, that stiffen and help hold its shape.

The bodice is made from a pattern in The Elms textile collection. Oops sorry, you can't see the bodice, its got a camisole, or corset cover over it.

There you are.
The pattern was included in a magazine as a supplement, from around the 1850,s, and if you want to know more. I have blogged about it, the blog is called, A Pattern Supplement to The English Woman's Domestic Magazine. Have a look and find out how difficult it used to be to get a pattern. Dressmakers often draped muslin over their clients and cut the pattern from this, and home sewers would cut up old dresses and use them as patterns for new ones. You may remember if you read the instructions from the supplement printed in the blog, that the pattern for the body, was from the House of Gagelin. Gagelin was a fabric store in Paris, where Charles Frederick Worth worked, from 1845, through to 1858. Worth set up a small dressmaking department in the Gagelin store, that as the magazine supplement states was, one of the first couture houses. In 1858 Worth left the House of Gagelin to open his own house, the House of Worth, and went on to become the Father of Couture.

The bodice from the back.
The buttons are recycled shell buttons, known as mother of pearl. I am not happy with them and want to replace them with buttons covered with the same fabric as the bodice. What do you think?
The skirt lies almost finished, beside just bleached lace curtains, beautiful cotton lace, difficult to find quality like that today. See the pattern, little pictures in lace. I was given these as a free extra with some buttons I bought off Trade Me. They were rust stained and dirty, and looked like rubbish, now I love them, the gorgeous things.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Hat Collection at the Brain Watkins House

Some of my favourites.

The hat, that wonderful fashion accessory, that tops off, and finishes off an outfit. So often ignored today, hats can frame a face, reflect the wearer's personality, shade you from the sun, hide a bad hair day, and are just another wonderful textile item to play with and enjoy.

Bessie Brain, one of the daughters of Joseph Brain, was a milliner by profession, (a hat maker for my younger darlings who think a hat is a baseball cap or a beanie). Up until the 1960's hats were pretty much compulsory in any formal situation, church, weddings, that sort of thing, and so every women would have had a selection of hats in her wardrobe. Why have we denied ourselves this wonderful accessory. Well I have some ideas on that, and I will share those in a future blog, but for now I just want to have fun. Look at these hats!!!

This baby blue felt hat, with a forget-me-not blue band decorated with clusters of artificial pearls, is a little stunner. It is similar in style to a man's trilby, but softened and feminised in style and colour. I have not done enough research yet to identify the era this hat would have belonged to, but I would suspect the 1930's or 40's.

Wowser, look at me!!! Red always has that impact doesn't it, and this hat has impact to burn. A felt flowerpot with a narrow brim and pleated satin band decorated with a little bling, in the form of a bow encrusted with gold coloured pearls and diamontes.

I just love this soft cream velvet turban style number, decorated with a satin bow on the side and silver brooch. What would the dress worn with this hat have been like, any ideas my creative darlings?

How could you not want this dreamy coolie hat, made of a soft fabric with a raised pile. This one I can date to the 1950's, as shown by the image below, taken off the cover of an Australian Home Journal magazine dated June 1957.

Lastly these two little cloche style hats, have the style of the 1920's or 30's, both so sweet I am getting holes in my teeth just looking at them.

This straw cloche with its narrow pink velvet band, and cluster of pink hydrangea flowers on the side, is just cute on a stick don't you think? Anyway these are some of my favourites, let me know if any of them press your buttons and why.
If you want to help the Tauranga Historical Society to look after these hats, and all the other wonderful things in the house they are in, you could become a member and support the work they are doing to preserve this little time capsule stuffed with treasures like these hats.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A kimono dressing gown in the Pink Bedroom of the Brain Watkins House

Getting inspiration for Trixie's coat from a kimono dressing gown in the collection
at the Brain-Watkin's House

Remember this darling little Victorian villa, known as the Brain-Watkins House.

The house has three bedrooms, and one of them is known as the pink bedroom for obvious reasons.

It has the most gorgeous floral linoleum on the floor.

Paint finishes have been used in this room too, in this instance to imitate wood rather than marble, and to create the illusion of a wood considered more prestigious than the solid kauri they are made of, English oak.

Overall quite an effective treatment, don't you think, my beloved darlings.

Lace curtains on the windows.

White painted boards and battens line the ceiling, and remind me of staying at my Grandma's house.

The walls are covered with an ornate embossed wallpaper, with surprise, surprise, a floral motif.

In one corner of the room stands a 20th century kimono-style dressing gown on a dressform.

Standing beside a large Scotch dresser, with three trinket boxes on display.

The gown is decorated with wonderful chunky embroidery, it appears to be hand done, but in a thick thread, so that it would have been quick and easy to execute. This dressing gown was a less expensive item of clothing in its day. I am not sure when that would have been, but as it is rayon it is probably early 1900's, I would suspect around 1930-1950. Check out the link below and you will see an identical robe that still has its label: Made in Japan. As it is so similar to this robe, I suspect it may have been made by the same company and that it is not Chinese as I originally thought, but Japanese.

I love the embroidery, and the way it has been laid out on the robe, and I want to use this as inspiration for the embroidery on Trixie's coat. What do you think, isn't it divine?

Look at the little French knots in the center of the flower.

And these trailing wisps of floral buds, wouldn't this suit the trailing willow branches. So let me know what you think, please remember to comment, so that I know that you have popped in. Mentioning French knots has made me feel all Francais, mes cheris
x left cheek x right cheek x left cheek