Earlier this year I was delighted to be awarded the K G Ponting Memorial Bursary, in order to fund a visit to the study facilities at the Fashion Museum in Bath. Last week I took the opportunity to make this visit, and spent a fantastic three days with Elaine Uttley, the Collections Assistant, examining garment construction and fashion plates from 1760-1830. In this post I will pick out some of the most interesting items I saw. I will return to some of these items in later posts for some more in depth construction analysis.
The first of these was a green brocaded silk dress. The database notes recorded a production date of c.1775, however the dress had clearly been altered several times in the 1790s. Interestingly, at some point, the waist line had been dropped down about two inches.
The second gown was a striped silk robe from 1774-1778. This had also received multiple alterations, though they were more subtle. However the cuffs had suffered quite a bit!
Another of the gowns I looked at on the first day displayed an old hemline, marked out by dirty staining from the floor.
The final gown I will talk about from my first day was a printed linen wrap dress. This unusual gown had staggering measurements. From shoulder to hem measured 65″, meaning that the wearer must have not been around 6 feet tall. She was also extremely slim, being only 30″ under bust, and 7 1/2″ across the shoulders.
On the second day of my visit I started by looking at a red silk brocade sack back gown and petticoat.
In this image it is possible to vaguely make out the outline of a dart which was made in the bodice at some stage. The petticoat had also been reconstructed and mounted on a white cotton yoke with crude machining.
I then looked a two beautifully white-worked gowns and two silk gauze gowns, which I will examine in a later post.
I also looked at a beautiful silk gown from 1817-21. The silk satin around the neckline was added at a later date. On the inside, in ball point pen, is written Wendy Jitshall, Reigate, SA.
On my final day I began by looking at fashion plates, both from eighteenth-century pocket books and nineteenth-century periodicals.
Amongst these images, I discovered this rather wonderful caricature entitled ‘A Dandy shoemaker in a fright, or the ill effects of tight lacing’.
I also looked at this gown with beautiful wool embroidery. The gown itself is white cotton with a high neck and collar, which is also embroidered.
The final garment I will briefly look at in this post is this pair of pink quilted silk breeches. These breeches were made out of a lady’s quilted petticoat of c.1770, but when this alteration took place is a little bit of a mystery. Karen Harvey of the University of Sheffield was also examining these breeches, and we had a debate about when they may have been constructed and worn. These breeches will most definitely be the subject of a later blog post!
Overall the trip was extremely successfull, and I am very grateful to the museum for thinking me and my research were worthy of the award. The Fashion Museum study facilities are a fantastic resource, and I am sure I will be returning again soon to see what else I can find!
All images courtesy of the Fashion Museum, Bath and North East Somerset Council