It’s hard for us nowadays to imagine just how grand the House of Worth really was.
So extravagantly rich were some of its patrons that they only wore their impossibly lavish Worth gowns once or twice…
So what happened to these clothes after they were cast off by the hoi polloi? Sure, a few ended up in museums, but you gotta wonder – what happened to the rest?
By chance, I tracked some of the Vanderbilts’ clothes down this week… and in the most appropriate, yet unlikely place. It seems that some of Worth’s work made it all the way back to the county of his birth – Lincolnshire, in the UK – under the most delightfully ridiculous circumstances!
A 1977 book on a dusty shelf in a Cotswolds hotel gives us the full story….
If you were here for the post I made before Christmas, you’ll remember that I’ve been hankering after a copy of these Edwardian drawers in the Metropolitan Museum. In my last post I pledged to use Agnes Walker’s draft from 1897, but as you can see,...
I think we (myself included) often give up on the old year too easily. In our haste to get done with the imperfect past, we tell this year not to let the door smack it in the behind on the way out, and launch into the hope of a fresh start… maybe too quickly. I wonder whether we’d be more effective if we took time to rest and reflect more consciously, celebrating what went well AND learning from what didn’t go so well this year? I tried this on for size in the nearest journal today…
That time of the year is coming… when a more prolific soul than you or I will post a list of the sixty-five fabulous projects she completed this year. And lo, most people will look at her edited highlights, and compare them to their backstage mess, and feel inadequate.
Ugh. Doesn’t sound like fun.
So let’s release some of our stuck creative energy right now, and release ourselves from 2018 like an arrow departs from the bow.
To begin, let’s release procrastination.
A year or two ago, I opened my closet full of fabulous historical evening gowns and felt… tired.
Inside were all those impossible confections I’ve made for countless Costume College Galas. Days, weeks, months of blood, sweat and tears are represented in that stuffed wardrobe, along with many happy memories of friends and fears overcome. Every single time, I’d figured it out and finished the dress in time.
And I had to ask… why am I doing this, anyway?
You may be concentrating on the imagined sight of those folds of taffeta and satin in front of me, but I was looking down at my jeans. What the hell is this all for, anyway? Why is all this expertise shut in a closet for 99% of its life, and why am I wearing synthetic rubbish, mass produced in sweatshops I’d rather not think about?
From time to time it’s worth remembering why we got into this, anyway. It’s so easy to get caught up in the rush to have something new to wear for this event, or that event, that we forget why we learned to sew in the first place.
Remember the Edwardian chemise I made earlier this year?
Well, if you keeping hunting around in the Metropolitan Museum archive, you’ll come across a matching pair of drawers (top of page). They’re part of a set containing an identical chemise to mine – the lace is unmistakeable. So obviously I have to make the drawers too.
So this was fun…
Last week I was delighted to have an opportunity to speak to a Muggle audience about corsets.
Well, ok, I spoke to an audience of entrepreneurs about business, using corsets to make my point. 🙂
My audience included personal trainers, accountants, healers, coaches, gardeners, herbalists, stylists, tech wizards – an extraordinarily diverse group of experts in all kinds of fields, who are all building businesses online using the same tools and principles. You can imagine the double takes the first time they hear what I’m doing online.
A membership site about making corsets and historical dress?? It’s unimaginable!
Some of you know that I’ve been having voice lessons… for about six months now.
I’ve always wanted to learn to sing, but it’s difficult to summon up the courage to try a new hobby. I mean, the courage not just to try it, but to sustain that courage long enough, and keep practising long enough, to feel really good at it. Good enough to really enjoy it, you know?
Well courage is neither here nor there, now.
Fortunately or unfortunately, I’ve been forced into voice lessons by a problem with my vocal cords. It’s not so much singing lessons as “voice rehab”… because although my singing is alright, speaking is a struggle.
I don’t know how it began – maybe stress, maybe a physical issue that cleared up and left bad habits behind; all I know is that I am physically fine – the doctors can find nothing wrong – and yet right now, my speaking voice is a croaky, whispery mess.
What does this have to do with sewing? Stay with me.
You’ve heard it before, I’m sure: you need the right foundations to get the silhouette right.
Sometimes you need them even when you re-purpose historical dress as everyday modern dress, and discard the corset.
I’ve been working on an 1890s wool skirt to just wear around the house this winter. I drafted it from an original set of instructions in the Keystone Jacket and Dress Cutter, with a smooth front, and a back that explodes in acres of gorgeous pleats. I should have guessed that this plan led to an engineering snafu…
Mental Health Awareness Week passed me by last week, ironically enough, in a haze of anxiety. Yeah, newsflash: I deal with this stuff too.
So many of us, from the everyday knitter, painter, writer or sewer to the celebrated household name, accept a terrible imagined bargain… that we must pay for creativity with our sanity. But despite my own issues, I have come to believe that I don’t have to take this crap lying down.
Having been there before and made it back to reality, I find these days that I know what to do. So here it is, for what it’s worth, my tried and tested bag of tools for maintaining good mental health (or regaining it when it’s eluding me). Borrow any that speak to you, and feel free to add your own in the comments.