Sewing and textiles with Ann
May Bank Holiday, and my friend and I went to visit the National Trust’s Baddesley Clinton, in Warwickshire. In each room was a bit of an exhibition about 4 strong women who had lived in the house over the previous 500 years. The earlier pair had been staunch Catholics, protecting priests during times when it was illegal to be a Catholic. The second pair lived there in mid Victorian times, and were anti-women’s sufferage. The final room of the visit had a wall panel asking visitors to comment about what the Victorian inhabitants would have thought if they were alive today.
Comments about wifi, the internet and social media abounded, but actually, apart from wondering what on earth those metal things were that people carried round with them all the time, none of the above things would have been instantly visible has the Victorians somehow time travelled forwards to today.
They would have wondered what all of those ‘cars’ were covering more than 3 of their local fields. And, coming onto why this is relevant to Me Made May, might they have been appalled at what all of the house visitors were wearing?
Victorian clothes would have been hand made. Portraits indicate that much of their skin would have been covered. Some of their clothes were quite elaborate: lace, much gathering, bustles, fine fabrics.
OK. Some aspects of Victorian clothes were very bad. Notably corsetry, and we might argue today that there was a huge amount of fabric wasted in ostentatious design.
My friend and I (quite unusually, in both cases) were wearing jeans; a lot of female visitors were wearing trousers. The temperature couldn’t really make up its mind what to do that day. My friend and I were wearing lighter weight jumpers; mine out of velvet, hand made for my recent birthday party. (No photo. Sorry.)
But some visitors were showing flesh! And some were probably wearing leggings. As we walked round the vegetable garden, I recall expressing my distaste of leggings!
So what do you think that the Victorians would have thought about today’s clothes, particularly for women? There has been an enormous change in fashion in the last 150 years, much of it for the better in terms of comfort, but I am inclined to think that history will judge the current era as rather bad on the whole, in terms of ladies wear. At least with Me Made, we can do our own thing, and do our little bit improve that conclusion.