I FINALLY got to watch the xmas special of Downton Abbey recently after being outnumbered this christmas. I did read a lot of people complaining that it was boring, even though the same people complained it was too much during that infamous rape scene. I however did not find it boring, it wasn’t Game Of Thrones exciting but the costumes were really beautiful.
I recently discovered that my Great, Great Grandmother was a seamstress in the 1860’s in the little village that i live in now and i’ve always wanted to know how hard they used to work and feel it for myself. I found this quote on the old internet from the ‘Children’s employment commision’, which wasn’t very encouraging..
EVIDENCE TAKEN BY Children’s Employment Commission
Miss — has been for several years in the dress-making business…The common hours of business are from 8 a.m. til 11 P.M in the winters; in the summer from 6 or half-past 6 A.M. til 12 at night. During the fashionable season, that is from April til the latter end of July, it frequently happens that the ordinary hours are greatly exceeded; if there is a drawing-room or grand fete, or mourning to be made, it often happens that the work goes on for 20 hours out of the 24, occasionally all night….The general result of the long hours and sedentary occupation is to impair seriously and very frequently to destroy the health of the young women. The digestion especially suffers, and also the lungs: pain to the side is very common, and the hands and feet die away from want of circulation and exercise, “never seeing the outside of the door from Sunday to Sunday.” [One cause] is the short time which is allowed by ladies to have their dresses made. Miss is sure that there are some thousands of young women employed in the business in London and in the country. If one vacancy were to occur now there would be 20 applicants for it. The wages generally are very low…Thinks that no men could endure the work enforced from the dress-makers.
Sounds pretty awful really, can’t have been long before they were crippled by back pain, my Great, Great Grandmother only did it for about three or four years before she got married, i can imagine that it must have been a relief for her to get married.
I also read somewhere else, lost it now, that they only took three breaks throughout the day and lunch was about 20 minutes, though i imagine it would have varied depending on who they worked for.
I also wrote down a quote from the BBC period drama The Paradise, the older dressmaker who is being put out of business by the blossoming department store remembers “times in the old days when we had to produce a dress overnight… a real dressmaker is an artist, he needs to know flawless stitching, to cut finely and have a delicate eye, but more than anything else we need to know people, a women will love a dress because it was made to fit her character, not just her body” “a secret beauty”. I thought this was really lovely and encourages me to keep going and learn as much as i can.
So, i’m going to try and complete a day as a seamstress, all 20 hours of it and see how much i can achieve.
So, Monday 28th January (technically yesterday, but today according to my body clock) marks two hundred years since Jane Austen first published Pride and Prejudice, I have to say its probably my favorite book, closely battling it out with Northanger Abbey, it always gives me that warm, fuzzy feeling inside.
So i thought i would honor it and the great lady with a series of posts throughout this year and a rereading of the book (though after i have read my set books for uni, i REALLY should read those!!). I am going to try and have a methodical and consistent strategy and creative at the same time, because apparently people do that with there blogs! (I read somewhere). I’m really excited about this because i do love Jane Austen ….. YES now i have an excuse to watch all those adaptions added to you-tube of ALL Austen work WOOHOO.
I don’t really know a great deal about American history but saw the latest advert for the new Steven Spielberg film about Abraham Lincoln and i can’t wait, looks really interesting… and lots of costumes of course.
I read somewhere that to be creative is to allow yourself to make mistakes, well that was what i did on Tuesday and Wednesday not willingly mind, but i excepted it and learnt from them.
I choose to make a late 16th century smock on Tuesday and it was important that i cut the neckline right to go with my 1590’s dress i was making and the corset i had just finished. However something went wrong mid action and perhaps i choose to ignore it or i was unaware of it and the smock was sent back 10 or 15 years. It did occur to me in the end that there is only one right way to cut a smock/chemise.
On Wednesday i carried on with the 1590’s dress and choose to make a large french farthingale to go underneath the skirt, it looked pretty simple (i had never made one before though) and went ahead without really considering it at first. I realised later on that i should of took into consideration what i would be boning the farthingale with, as it turned out that my trusty flexible wire wasn’t going to work, weighing the whole thing down. I also miscalculated the shape of the waist, i’m still not sure how i did this, but i will figure it out.
I felt pretty lacking in motivation at the end of wednesday, ready to go to sleep and forget the two wasted days, in my eyes. But my lovely tabby (samsung tablet) reminded me to read some verses in the bible and my motivation flooded back, reminding me whats most important and why i’m trying so hard. Anyway, heres hoping the rest of the week will be far more productive.
Thought i would upload a pictorial of my recent trip to Bath, in Somerset after being reminded of the yearly Jane Austen Festival which happens in September. I so wish i could go but my holiday is in October this year, perhaps next year. I really loved my little break in Bath and the first place i visited was the Herschel Museum, a short walk round a corner from the circus. I wanted to cram as much as i could into my holiday as i could and i like science, especially astronomy which is what William Herschel was famous for, he is “best remembered for the discovery of Uranus, William Herschel was also responsible for increasing the dimensions of the Milky Way, discovering the satellites of Saturn and other planets, the rotation of Saturn’s rings as well as the motion of binary stars”.
He use to make and polish his own telescope in his work-shop, on the floor is the marks from the molten tin that was drop and cracked the floor.
They even had on display a visitor entry when he was becoming famous for his work, here the Princess Royal, Charlotte the eldest daughter of George III and her younger sister Augusta are noted visitors, I got a little excited when I saw this, was a good job i was on my own.
Of course i was really excited when i saw they had an original dress worn by William’s sister Caroline, who also acted as a secretary to him and was a very intelligent lady in her own right. I’m only 5 foot so i was shocked to see how small the dress was, apparently they were wafer thin back then because this dress was from the end of the 18th century when she was an older lady.