Apologies to our visitors expecting our normal Sunday morning blog. Things got a bit complicated in the hive this week, and there was no time to prepare a proper blog.
Instead, for an improper (and late) blog, I offer a few pretty pics, especially for those who like our costume series. And normal service will be resumed next weekend 😉
That poor seamstress again?
My blogs have often mentioned the poor seamstress who made those fabulous gowns and, probably, received a pittance for her work. Below are some examples of embroidery from the Hereford museum collections. I don’t know whether these are the work of a seamstress or by a lady, sitting comfortably by her fire. They’re worth a look, whoever did them. [Click to enlarge]
Beautiful flowers, and a finely stitched edging (above).
The edging on this bolder one is amazingly intricate.
Again, amazingly delicate work which you can see better in the close-up below:
The colouring on the leaves is exquisite, don’t you think? But the fine silk is showing its age.
These examples above may have been used as table linens, though I’m not sure the second one, with the looped edging, would have been.
Embroidery and fashion
But embroidery was also wearable, if you were up for it—
These embroidered stomachers must have taken hours and hours to finish. And they are stunning. The only drawback is that they had to be held taut and straight, with no awkward protrusions of flesh. That usually required a degree of stiffening, with something pretty uncomfortable for the wearer. For example, these busks, made of wood!
What some women will do for a fashionable figure, eh?
And finally, a brain teaser from the Berrington Hall collection (below). What do you think this is?
Hint: it IS to do with fashion.
Answers once I’ve seen the guesses from our visitors.
No prizes, but kudos and congratulations if you can work it out.
Joanna, in a bit of a rush
Postscript—And the answer is…?
I cheated a little—but only a very little—since these items come in pairs and they’re not as round as the image above suggests. They have a flat side, presumably to fit against the body. They would normally come like this:
And as at least two visitors guessed—congrats to both—the items are stiffeners for puffed sleeves, fashionable in the late 1820s and 1830s. The stiffeners are framed with thin cane, formed into the mostly-circular shape, and joined by thick waxed paper, carefully folded to make the requisite puff and to join to the smaller circles where the arm went through. The stuffing shown in the images is a museum addition to preserve the shape.
The whole design is very clever because it’s light and airy. If the sleeves had had to be fully stuffed to ensure that puffed shape, imagine how hot the gown would have become.
The wonderful V&A collection has produced some prints to demonstrate the puffed-sleeve style. And those hairstyles! One day, I must do a blog about them. The ones in the prints below are astonishing and must have taken for ever to create, probably with the addition of lots of false hair.
If you enlarge the prints [just click], you’ll see amazing detail of gowns, accessories and hair. And the lady in the purple day dress in the final print appears to be wearing half-boots 😉