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Kerryn is not the only Glorybox blogger to get lucky at the local op shop. A colleague, Melanie, purchased the following fabulous examples from the Sallies in Karori. Hanging up in the second-hand bras section of the shop, these pieces appear to be from the 1960s and 1970s.
Most of these examples were produced by Hickory, a New Zealand manufacturer. They feature metric measurements as well as warnings about the company accepting no responsibility for damage to the elastic by fingernails or rings.
However, you would need fairly strong hands to damage this underwear, as what you can’t appreciate is the heavy elastic waistband. It would not be easy to remove them quickly. The underwear does have beautiful detailing with lace and trims. The inside features boning and attachments for suspenders. A perfect foundation garment!
The white bra’s straps are cloth rather than elastic. Most of the fabric is cotton with some elastic panels at the back. It has a large range of hooks – indeed six to fasten the bra together.
It also features vertical boning with a dainty embroidery pattern at the front.
The above image is another Hickory example and both bras are size 14B.
The final example are ‘Slim Form’ underwear from Australia that are made of elastane and nylon. They appear to have a bit more wear as they would be less cumbersome to remove. The front panel has an embroidered set of initials of the manufacturer, SF for Slim Form.
We suspect that many individuals would nowadays be horrifed to wear these large pieces of underwear but the level of detail found in each piece is certainly impressive.
I visit the Salvation Army op-shop in Newtown, Wellington, often because it’s on the way to my son’s day care. My visits usually go unrewarded but occasionally I get lucky.
On the day in question I felt like I shouldn’t go into the op shop – perhaps I was running late or maybe felt I’d shown my face in there too many times recently – but I felt strangely drawn to it, compelled to enter its doors. When this feeling struck I knew I had to obey. My obedience would be rewarded.
And so it was. I headed up to the stairs to the racks and shelves which ordinarily house a depressing collection of motley towels, pilled bedding, synthetic baby blankets and the wrong type of floral curtains. I almost missed the jewel wedged between the baby blankets. It was like it was hiding and would only reveal itself to the keenest of eyes. I realised I was looking at a series of hexagonal shapes made of various types and patterns of vintage fabric. There was no time to waste (I had a son to collect and a bus to catch) so I seized it, handed over $10 at the counter (someone made a real balls-up there – thanks Sallies) and carted my prize off.
Here it is – a mid-20th century quilt comprised of 462 hexagons hand-sewn together. It’s lined with calico and hemmed with plain black polished cotton. At about 148cms x 212cms it covers a single bed well and sits nicely a-top a double bed too. Machine-sewn zig-zags create triangles, diamonds and hexagons across the quilt.
The maker used a diverse range of fabric scraps dating from around the 1940s to the 1960s. Floral, abstract, gingham, polka dots, stripes, paisley, chinoiserie, illustrated scenes and monochrome fabrics are jammed together in a manner only quilts (and maybe Versace scarves) can get away with. There are different weights of cotton, including bark cloth, corduroy, demin and seersucker, silk, velvet and damask; day-dress and evening wear fabrics and some furnishing fabrics.
I estimate that it was made in the 1960s or ’70s. It’s often difficult to date pieces like this which use fabric scraps – they may have been constructed years or decades after the fabrics were produced. However, some of the silk pieces on this quilt have perished which makes me think it’s a few decades old. Otherwise it’s in very good order and the colours haven’t faded. It has been well-cared for.
I’m not sure what I am going to do with the quilt. At the moment it lives on my sewing table away from the sunlight. Once my son is older and more respectful I may dare to use the quilt as it was intended and throw it over a bed.
I went to a gorgeous exhibition of historic and contemporary quilts at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London recently (http://www.vam.ac.uk/collections/textiles/quilts-1700-2010/exhibition/index.html) and I think my lucky find would have right at home with these!
By guest blogger Karen Ross
From a very early age I was aware of the importance and place crafting garments had in my family. My mother was always sewing, mending, planning and piecing together garments for her brood of six.
As she worked in the dress fabric section of the once grand department store DIC she always had the pick of remnants and interesting cuts of fabric. My sisters and I were extremely well clothed and few guessed they were all made at home. During the 60s clothes were simple: bright shifts and long A-line skirts. I share my mother’s love of fabric and sewing, though sadly none of my siblings do.
During this period I was vaguely aware of the family gown that was laid out for each baptism, but as it did not concern me I forgot about it. Only when I started to have children of my own did I ask my mother where it had got to. At first it could not be uncovered, so when my son was baptised he had to have a new garment trimmed with fabric from my wedding gown and adorned with a deep trim constructed for the gown by a very close friend.
It was only after my daughter was born that the family gown surfaced. She wore that to the church and the more functional ‘newer’ one at home. As they are 17 and 25 years respectively now the ‘newer’ garment in soft cream viyella is getting on, a little.
After this I started to uncover the story of the family gown. Word had it that it was completed onboard ship to New Zealand, which dates it to around the late 1860s. I am not sure if this is true, and am trying to reconstruct its story at present.
It is made from very plain material but is all hand sewn and demonstrates exquisite craftsmanship in the trim and central panel.
Over the years many babies have been baptised in the gown. As part of unravelling its history I am making an undergarment for the gown. Around the hem of this garment I am going to embroider, where possible, the names and baptism dates of the babies who wore the gown. I will keep you posted on my progress.