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Finished projects: Judith’s hoop panniers

Judith contacted me wanting two set of panniers for a show she is doing.

This is the first set, a hoop pannier based off of my 1770s yellow panniers (which are based off a set in the KCI)

The panniers will be worn as outer wear, so we chose fabrics a pretty, but inexpensive poly-cotton with a faux indigo-dyed chintz type pattern.

The fabric

The print evokes the 18th century without being too obvious, and the allover patterns of winding flowers work well in the tight gathers of the hoop panniers.

The hoop panniers, front view

Rather than using the nifty plastic hooping I used on my yellow pair (which I, unfortunately, haven’t been able to source since), I used hoop wire from Lacis.  It actually worked even better than the plastic.  The uprights hoops stay up really well, and the whole thing is a bit lighter.

The gathers over the upright hooping

Sewn-in tapes underneath hold the panniers in their elongated shape:

The hidden support tapes

Overall, I’m quite pleased with the panniers and the pattern as a whole.  It’s such a nice melding of 18th century accuracy and the taste and needs of the client.

Panniers, side view

Next week I’ll show you Judith’s other panniers.


Doilie, doily, doyley, doiley, d’oyley or d’oilie?

I came across a copy of the Girl’s Own Paper from 1912, and was very intrigued by the handwork section, and in particular, by the spellings in the handwork section.

You see, the Girl’s Own Paper spells doily d’oilie.

A d'oilie in fine crochet from the GOM

How peculiar!  At first I thought it might just have been an old-fashioned term for doily, and I have never noticed it before.

To make matters more confusing, the magazines ads spell it d’oyley

An ad for washstand d'oyleys in the GOM

So I thought a bit more, and realised that I was sure I had read 19th century articles about doilies, and d’oyleys, but never d’oilies.

So I did a bit of research, and guess what?  I can’t find a single mention of d’oilies or by that spelling in anything but the Girl’s Own Paper.

A pretty crocheted lace doily from my collection

New Zealand newspapers from the turn of the century spell it doily, d’oyley, doyley, and doilie, with the first spelling being vastly more common, and the last only appearing for a brief period at the turn of the century.

But why all the variants?

I think I have an idea.  The spelling of doily as d’oyley or doyley has become outdated in recent years, but a January 1895 Bruce Herald newspaper carried this article:

The word doyley, now a familiar one with ladies, is derived from the name of Robery D’Oyley, one of the followers of William the Norman.  He received a grant of valuable lands on the condition of a yearly tender of tablecloths of the value of three shillings on the feast of St Michael.  Agreeably to the fashions of the time the ladies of the D’Oyley household were accustom to embroidery and ornament the quit-rent tablecloths; hence these cloths becoming curiosities and accumulating in the course of years, were at length brought into use as napkins at the royal table and called doyleys.

There is another explanation for the origin of the word doily, which might help to explain the variants in spelling.  Apparently there was a 17th century draper in London named Doiley, who gave his name to a cheap but fine wool.  It’s not surprising that, amongst the exuberantly unregulated spellings of the 17th and 18th centuries, one textile named doyley became confused with another named doiley, and the trimmed table mats adopted the ‘oi’

Hmmm..  So it seems that d’oyley became doyley, which picked up an ‘oi’ and was also rendered as doily, doiley, and doilie, and the last was returned to its origin with the addition of an ‘ , becoming d’oilie.  Fascinating.

Detail of an irish crochet doily

I’m not sure why the Girl’s Own Paper devised upon its own distinct spelling?  Was this an attempt to make the doily sound even more elegant and gentrified?  “Add an apostrophe to it Mabel and it will sound French!  D’oilie is tres elegante, no?”

Lots and lots of d'oilies in the GOM

So use whichever you want, as long as you can ignore the fact that most spellchecks only accepts doily!

And for more doily stuff , check out this cute 1940’s d’oyley case on flickr

A doily with a three-dimensional crocus flower border

Emily’s 1903 evening gown: the fabric

The museum record for Emily’s pink dress states that it is ‘silk grosgrain’, which is true in a sense, but also highlights the problem with fabric terminologies (they aren’t precise!  They change all the time!  We don’t always know what they meant in the past!).

The corded ribs are important because they make the pintucks easier to achieve

My challenge was to try to identify what Emily’s seamstress would have called the fabric, and to find the same fabric to make my recreation out of.

Both of those objectives turned out to be hideously difficult, and while I’ve arrived at some solutions, I’m not entirely happy with either result.

First, what is the fabric like?

It’s silk.  It’s a pink with just a hint of yellow/orange that manages to be both very vivid, and quite subtle, at the same time.  It has a very fine, very even rib running horizontally across the fabric (in other words, a weftwise rib).  It handles like a very soft taffeta – flowing rather than rustling, but holding in the position it gets folded or sculpted to.  The weight is also similar to a soft taffeta.

The fabric still holds the sleeve puffs well

So what would Emily and her seamstress have called it?  There are a few possibilities:

Silk grosgrain – this was used as a term for a fabric in the late 19th century and early 20th century.   The fabric was particularly popular for trimming mourning clothes, the most popular treatment being to cut it into strips and sew these in stripes round the hem and sleeves of garments.  The fabric was used as a trim in this manner so frequently that textile manufactures began making it as pre-cut ribbons, and the fabric itself became less and less common.  Today grosgrain ribbons are quite common, but silk grosgrain is used almost exclusively for the lapels of mens formalwear, and may be a bit heavier than its 19th century counterpart.

Poult, or poult de soie – basically,  a silk taffeta with heavy ribs.  Today it is sometimes called faille taffeta.  There seems to be some evidence that historically it could also have fine ribs, which would make it a good candidate for the fabric of Emily’s dress.

Peu de soie – used interchangeably with Duchesse satin today (I’ve even read snobbish accounts that say “those who cannot pronounce the proper French name call it Duchesse satin”), but historically applied to a softer, lighter fabric.  There are some accounts that describe it as having a rib.  Could this be Emily’s fabric?

Radzimir – A silk fabric with a fine rib, softer than taffeta, but still sculptable.  I’ve found advertisements for this fabric in New Zealand at the time Emily’s dress was made.  At different times radzimir has been used to describe fabric with lengthwise, crosswise, or broken twill ribs, and I can’t determine which it was used for in 1903.  It was particularly common in black as a mourning fabric, but was seen for evening and formal wear, and became quite popular in the years after Queen Victoria’s death.  Based on my research I think this is the most likely name that was applied to the original fabric of Emily’s dress.

Bengaline silk – Bengaline is sometimes considered to be a silk blend, but can be of pure silk.  It has a crosswise ribbed effect, and was a common fabric at the turn of the century.  Of course, the ribs run the wrong way.

And to add to the confusion, I’ve found descriptions of dresses made from corded silk – which could certainly describe the fabric of Emily’s dress.  It’s not precise, but it works.

So, with a lot of ideas of what the fabric might have been called, I had to find a modern fabric that looks and acts the same.  Easier said than done!