Tuesday, February 5, 2019

A Study in Pink: Two Silk Victorian Dresses, c. 1870





A 1871 pink silk dress with day and evening bodices, maker unknown; French.

A lovely way to study design - both dresses are made of silk, with varying use of fringe (passementerie), self-fabric trim and lace -- with very different results.




A pink silk evening ensemble, with button boots, c. 1870, maker unknown; American.









Saturday, February 2, 2019

Editorial Reviews for Treasures Afoot: Shoe Stories from the Georgian Era


Have you seen the editorial reviews for Treasures Afoot?

"In this lavishly illustrated, meticulously researched book, Kimberly Alexander tells the fascinating, hitherto untold story of the shoe in early America—of the cordwainers who made them, the factors who advertised and sold them, the men and women who bought them, and, eventually, the museums that catalogued and displayed them. Treasures Afoot is a must-read for anyone interested in the material culture of the founding era."
    — Eliga H. Gould, University of New Hampshire, author of Among the Powers of the Earth: The American Revolution and the Making of a New World Empire

"Treasures Afoot is a much-needed work on Georgian shoes, blending historic research and biography with material objects, elevating the importance of footwear from a dress accessory to a central element of an entire wardrobe. Alexander's book is a must-read for costume and shoe historians and sets a precedent for future scholars."
— Neal T. Hurst, associate curator of costume and textiles, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

A Pair of Homemade Mittens: Practice Piece


I recently found this pair of homemade, hand sewn, mended/reinforced mittens at the Collector’s Eye in Stratham, New Hampshire. They are probably New England made and worn (?). There are two hands evident in the work; one especially appears as though the maker were just starting out. After thorough inspection, I wondered if they were in fact “practice” mittens? 


Perhaps they were created as part of a sewing lesson or home economics class sometime during the 1sthalf of the 20thcentury. The materials – a rough medium weight cotton and a soft chamois-type of cloth for the cuff—may have come from a larger project or from a fabric stash.


Note the awkward shape of thumbs, tops and reinforcement or practice patching. The bodies of the mittens are comprised of rough cotton, with no lining and would not provide much warmth. 

Despite the fact that the design concept exceeds the success of the sewing, I find the mittens both charming and instructive. After all, you have to start somewhere! They are now part of my study collection and I will use them in my Material Culture classes.