Feeding addictions and solving mysteries

Great day yesterday. I went to Gawthorpe Hall, near Burnley, for a Study Day. If you don't know Gawthorpe, it's well worth a visit, especially if you are into textiles. It's National Trust, late Tudor/Jacobean, and rather like a miniature Hardwick Hall. Very attractive and more 'liveable-in' than Hardwick, because of the smaller scale. But for textilers its main attraction is the Kay-Shuttleworth Collection of embroideries and textiles: over 30,000 items of textiles ranging from 16th - 21st centuries. They were collected by Rachel Kay-Shuttleworth, originally as a resource for study/education, and there are some wonderful specimens. They run a series of Study Days throughout the year, and you can also arrange an individual or group visit to examine items from the collection. www.gawthorpetextiles.org.uk is the link.

Yesterday's Study Day was called "Gorgeous Georgians" and we spent the day immersed in a glorious collection of specimens of everything from coverlets to waistcoats, silk brocades to Dresden work sleeve ruffles. The fabrics and embroideries were stunning, and I went mad with my camera. It's my main area of research at the moment, because of the Cook Waistcoat project, and the material we were able to examine gave me some very useful insights into aspects of construction, embroidery details and styles of costume and fabrics. I've attached some pictures below to give you an idea. A great 'fix' for my historical embroidery addiction!

The other addiction was fed on the way home, which took me to Bradford and Bombay Stores! That's another mecca for textile addicts, and in my case particularly for colour addiction. The fabrics and clothes you can buy there are in the most stunning colours, and the bling is out of this world! We are so BORING about fashion colours in the UK at the moment, so every so often I feed my colour addiction by a visit to BS.

To make it even better, I was looking for a particular fabric, in white actually (despite my colour fixation!): the fine cotton "muslin" I have been using for the Dresden Work parts of my 18th century costume. It's about 70 threads per inch, and I bought a piece last year in a sale at Bombay Stores, but I'm running low. I have tried to find it elsewhere, but all the muslin I have found in other shops has been about 40 count, not nearly as fine as the fabrics used in the 18th century. Even the material I have been using is not quite right, but it's the closest match I have found. I wanted to get more, and asked for muslin, to be told they were out of stock. So I bought a piece of white Cotton Voil as a substitute, since it looked similar: I didn't have the swatch sample of my muslin with me. To my delight, when I got home and compared it I realised that the cotton voil was the same fabric! It's not muslin I've been working with, it's the cotton voil. No wonder all the muslins have been too coarsely woven. So now I know what to ask for, and where I can get more of the fine fabric for Dresden Work. It's even fairly inexpensive. So a very good day all round!

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