All posts tagged: 1904

When politicians advise on fashion

The debate between the aesthetics of fashion and the health and practicality of garments is never more pointed than when it comes to the matter of corsets. In 1904 the argument had one last great fling in New Zealand, with a series of international specialists visiting the country to declare the ill-effects of the garment. The anti-corset movement saw a surge in popularity, and the politicians, ever after a chance to see their own popularity surge, jumped on the bandwagon, not always wisely, as this period cartoon shows us:  

Emily’s 1903 evening gown: matching the fabric

Having determined that Emily’s dress was made out of a fabric very similar to silk razimir, and having gotten over my initial shock at the extremely pink colour and decided that the colour was integral to the dress, I had to try to find the same fabric.  Or at least a fabric that acted in the same way. I searched, and searched.  I ordered fabric and fabric samples off the internet, and got peculiar corded silks, weird sclumpy twill weave silks described as silk ottoman by someone with no fabric knowledge, silk twill that was lovely but didn’t behave when you tried to pintuck it, and other unsuitable fabrics. I scoured the fabric stores in Wellington and further afield.  I did find one gorgeous piece of palest pink silk razimir (which the fabric store, also incorrectly, called silk ottoman), but alas, at $150 a metre it was beyond my budget.  Also, even if I could have paid $150 a metre, I would have been far too scared to dye it a deeper pink.  And it …

Emily’s dress: recreating a 1903-1904 evening dress

I’m working on a very interesting, and challenging, new project. This is Emily’s dress: It was made for Emily Jane Whitley, the daughter of a wealthy Auckland storekeeper, between 1902 and 1904.  Emily wore it to balls and parties on Auckland’s social scene in the years before her marriage to a Manuwatu farmer, Percy Mildon, in 1905. We even have a photograph of Emily in her dress: It’s a fascinating dress because we know its history, and can make a reasonable guess at how it was made.  The Whitley store sold fabric, and probably had an attached sewing workshop, so it is very likely that the dress fabric came from the family store, and was made up by the store seamstress. So what’s my project?  Well, I’m attempting to recreate not just Emily’s dress, but the whole process of making Emily’s dress. I’m using my 1903 peddle sewing machine, a late 19th century guide to dressmaking, and a period pattern available in a NZ magazine.  I’m even wearing a corset and the type of outfit …