This week has been rather a good one! It started with a visit to the smoke, to do my lecture for the Society of Antiquaries of London. It was on Tuesday, at Burlington House, on Piccadilly, which has got to be the poshest venue I have lectured at so far! I had agreed to do one of their public lecture series as a thank you for the giving me money under their Janet Arnold Award for the Cook Waistcoat project. It paid for the trip down under to research the original.
Alison Liz's blog
Since I took James up to the Museum, I've been thinking about what to work on next. I have a couple of projects in mind! (What's new?)
Well, James is ensconced in the display case in the Captain Cook Memorial Museum in Whitby, all ready for the museum to re-open tomorrow! The bits of the exhibition I saw looked great, and the waistcoat looks well in its case, with a child's dress made of tapa cloth from the 19th century, and a rather lovely piece of modern painted tapa as a backdrop.
The exhibition is on until 31st October, and you can find the museum details on their website: http://www.cookmuseumwhitby.co.uk
James is all finished and ready to go to Whitby! The manikin is padded to fit, and he is all set up. It didn't need much padding, actually. James was a real string bean, even at the age of 50! 6' 2" tall and really slim. You can see this in the Webber portrait, which was done at about the same time as Elizabeth was working on the waistcoat: 1776.
Beavering away on the construction of the waistcoat. I started with the back, mainly to put off the awful point at which I needed to cut into the embroidered pieces! The back is fine white linen, with a lining of coarser unbleached linen. The gusset for the back vent is made of the white linen. The eyelets are had-stitched (of course!) and didn't take nearly as long as the ones I did for my corset. Thinner layers of fabric, much easier! The lacing is cotton tape. Straight-laced, as the one at Te Papa should be, as the eyelets are offset.
The embroidery for the Cook Waistcoat is finally finished! It has taken me 240 hours, which is quite a time, but gives me a benchmark for future reference. It looks well, I think, and hopefully close to the original embroidery did when Elizabeth had finished it.
So now I need to get started on the construction process. My deadline is Feb 12th, which is when I need to get it up to the museum. The pattern needed to be worked out, then the construction sequence, because they worked differently in the 18th century from the dress-making and tailoring techniques we use today.
I had a great time visiting City of York Branch of the Embroiderers' Guild on Saturday last, to talk about Georgian Embroidery. I took my 1770s costume which went down a storm. They have posted about my visit on their Blog: http://yorkembroidery.blogspot.co.uk if you want to see pictures!
I also had the first of my sewing groups in the studio yesterday afternoon, which also went very well. It's good to get going properly with the work. I'm looking forward to the next class.
"Oh, Frabjous Day! Calloo! Callay!" My Studio is finished! Keith put the final touches to it last night. It looks fabulous, just as I was hoping for.
I had a great day yesterday in the Collection Store at York Museums Trust. Spent the whole day drooling (not literally, I promise!) over a WHOLE BOX of 18th century waistcoats, about a dozen or so. Several were beautifully embroiderered, including two that were so similar that they must have belonged to the same person, and were probably made by the same workshop. One J S Walker, Esq: his name was written in the lining of one of them!
Buttons in the 18th century were quite varied. Brass or other metals were used, and even Wedgwood made ceramic buttons, I gather, though I've not seen any myself. They also used a variety of stitched methods, such as Dorset buttons, as well as making buttons to match the embroidery on the garment concerned.