Friday 20 November 2009

The way we stitched in the 30s from the London School of Fashion Archive

The London School of Fashion has a fascinating archive of its history and students and I was surprised to see that the syllabus taught appeared not to be exclusively couture and fashion drawing. In the background of this student's display of stitching are some very samplery-looking items. The cushion which has pride of place reminds me of similar in my grandmother's house - possibly worked by my aunt and mother when girls - reflecting an enduring love affair with crinoline ladies which seemed to appear everywhere - from nightdress cases to firescreens and toffee tins to Royal Doulton 'Ladies'. How much they owe to the vogue for Regency Period films of 30's, I can only guess - and then there was the crinoline film to end all crinoline films - Gone with the Wind. The student's gymslip seems a world away from the crinoline. How we longed to be out of them when we were at school! The good thing was that we only had to wear them for the first two years of senior school before graduating to skirts; the bad thing was because they were only to be worn for just two years we had to make do in the second year with the very same gymslip, even though we had grown rather in the chest department and all those nice box pleats, instead of falling neatly in line, began to puff out like the ruff of a mating grebe.

The second picture is a girl working with a tambour needle (I think this looks late 40s or even early 50s) and again the designs of colourful, dancing Europeans in folk costume were so popular on aprons, dirndl skirts and sundresses at that time.

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