Just in time for Christmas! We were fortunate to be able to obtain a copy of this fabulous book Textiles for Victorian and Edwardian Clothing: 1880-1920 by Diana L. Fagan Affleck and Karen J. Herbaugh. Originally published in 2004 and long out of print, this book is an excellent introduction to the somewhat bewildering world of late 19th and early 20th Century fabrics. The book itself combines documentation with representative swatches of fabric. Having actual fabric swatches is a major plus in that the reader can now see and feel representative fabric samples and thus be able to gain a better understanding of the actual fabrics that were used. This book is definitely a labor of love and it’s too bad that it’s been out of print for so long- naturally, including the fabric swatches was no doubt a major logistical undertaking. About the closest thing out there today are fabric swatch kits that accompany most textile textbooks. Check it out in our Etsy store: 😁
In contrast to the blogging of our prior trips, we’re going to blog our recent trip to England one somewhat out of order but it should still make sense (hopefully). So sit back and relax… 😄
While we were in England, we had a chance to visit the Whitchurch Silk Mill. Located in the town of Whitchurch in Hampshire, the mill was constructed from 1813 through 1815 by Henry Hayter on a plot of land called Frog Island. Taking advantage of the nearby River Test, the mill’s looms were powered by a waterwheel (today, the looms are run off of electric motors).
Since its initial construction in the early 1800s, the mill has had a number of owners and today it’s a public site managed by the Whitchurch Silk Mill Trust. Interestingly enough, silk is still produced here by commission, mostly for film and television productions. Below are some pictures of the machinery:
We couldn’t get any good pictures of the looms themselves so we found some images online:
One of the most interesting aspects of the mill were the looms and they even had two small ones that were set up for visitors such as ourselves to try out 😄:
The most compelling thing about the mill was that we were able to see how a typical silk mill might have looked (the looms you see date from the 1890s and later). Moreover, looking at the looms, one can instantly understand why the selvage widths of period fabrics were narrow- older looms simply were not as big as the massive ones now commonly used.1Admittedly an “Oh wow!” moment for us. We’re still processing the whole experience but the one major takeaway is that we have a deeper appreciation of how silk fabric was manufactured.
We still have a large supply of the Raspberry Stripe Cotton Batiste fabric available for immediate shipment and just in time for Summer! 🙂 Sold by the yard at $5 per yard. To order, please contact us at email@example.com.
We have secured an additional supply of the Raspberry Stripe Cotton Batiste fabric that so many you have been looking for! The stripe is woven (see detail where I pulled the threads) and it burns to a grey ash (see detail) stripes run parallel to the selvage. It’s 55″ wide with a soft hand and begs to be your next project…it reminds me of gowns worn in French Impressionist paintings! Sold by the yard at $5 per yard. To order, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sweet and sheer 100% cotton batiste in a soft daffodil yellow and white stripe, going fast there’s twenty yards left. There’s still this pretty textile for your next summer gown. $5 a yard, 60″ wide…no more after this, I bought all there was! For more information, email us at email@example.com or check out our Facebook Page.
Today we take you across the ocean to Paris, the capital of fashion in the late 19th Century for a brief look at one (of many) creation by Frederick Charles Worth. Worth was one of the first “name” fashion designers who pioneered what ultimately was to become the Haute Couture system that ruled the fashion world for almost a century.
Along with creating his own dress designs, Worth also commissioned his own custom fabrics and in particular he patronized the French silk industry centered in Lyon1Unfortunately, the silk industry in Lyon has diminished since the late 19th Century and today, Prelle et Cie is one of the few silk weavers that remain. Prelle’s silks have been used to restore a wide variety of historic sites worldwide and they even recreated many of the silk fabrics used in 2006 film Marie Antoinette.. One such creation that Worth commissioned from the firm of Morel, Poeckès & Paumlin in 1889 was the Tulipes Hollandaises (“Holland Tulips). The design was intended to push the silk weaver’s art to its limits, the design has a three-foot repeat in the pattern which made it difficult to weave.
Below are two pictures of the textile’s design:
The tulips are depicted in bright colors set against a black background and some commentators have characterized it as an “aggressive” design intended to make a bold statement, especially given the size of the design repeat.
As part of the 1889 Exposition Universelle in Paris, the products of French industry were exhibited and naturally the textile and couture industries were part of it. The above textile was put on display and it ultimately was awarded a grand prize.
The above evening cape shows off the silk textile to its maximum advantage. Some could argue that it’s excessive and perhaps even gauche but that was the nature of Haute Couture in the late 19th Century and given the spirit of the time, anything less would have been dismissed as banal. Less was definitely not more during the Belle Epoch. 🙂