All posts tagged: terminology

A ca. 1920 sinamay sunhat (and what is sinamay)

You may have noticed that I made a number of hats for the Mansfield Garden party, so it’s probably no surprise that some of them are showing up as entries for the Historical Sew Fortnighly ‘Protection’ challenge. Hats were essential fashion items throughout the first half of the 20th century, but they were also important for protection.  Sunglasses were extremely uncommon, and the wide brims of summer hats helped to protect the eyes from the sun’s glare, and also to protect the skin and preserve the pale, untanned complexions that were considered fashionable. They work extremely well for both functions: I get terrible headaches if I don’t wear a hat or sunglasses, but with one or the other, I’m fine.  And New Zealand’s sun is notoriously harsh, but my models and I stayed happily un-sunscreened and un-sunburnt for a whole day out in the blaze courtesy of our hats (and parasols). This particular hat represents the styles of hats worn in the very late 1910s and early 1920s.  It was also an experiment in some new …

Terminology: What are Bizarre silks?

Bizarre silks are silk fabrics (obviously) that were fashionable in Europe from the mid 1690s to the 1720s.  They featured large, asymmetrical designs, vivid colours, fantastical floral designs which were Oriental in inspiration, and an emphasis on the diagonal ‘serpentine line’ which would later come to characterise the Rococo style.  The first bizarre silks were woven in Lyons, France, but by the early 1700s they were also being made in Spitalfelds, England, and to a lesser extent in Italy. The name ‘Bizarre Silks’ is not period – it wasn’t used until 1957 when art historian Dr. Vilhelm Sloman coined the term to describe the style.  Dr Sloman believed that bizarre silks were made in India and imported into Europe, but subsequent scholarship has made it clear that they were exclusively produced in Europe. According to my research, there is no particular set of term that was used in the late 17th & 18th centuries for the fabric design – they might be described as Oriental, but generally they were just the popular style, and no particular distinction …

Terminology: Bodkins & Étui (and scissor terminology and lots more!)

A bodkin, also known as a lacing or threading needle (and occasionally a ballpoint needle, but then it gets confused with the needles we sew knits with), is a large needle with a very large eye, and a very blunt end, used for lacing corsets, threading ribbon through lace beading, cord through casings, or any other time when you need to ‘carry’ a yarn without the chance of poking holes or sewing through something. Bodkin is also occasionally spelled bodekine, bodikin, botkin, bodkine, and boidken. Here is how you thread a bodkin through a casing: To create a bit of confusion, the word bodkin also refers to almost the opposite tool: a sharp, pointed tool for poking holes in leather or fabric (like an awl).  And bodkin is also a decorative hairpin, particularly one that is shaped like a stiletto dagger, and a stiletto dagger is itself a bodkin (keeping up?). A 17th century guide to the tailors tools describes a bodkin of the awl variety as: a blad or or round Pin of Iron fixed in …