Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Very Old and Very Rare

Last week Mr. Thimblepie took me to St. Gertrudes Monastery to visit their museum and historic chapel. It was a beautiful site, on the list of Historic Landmarks. The chapel was built almost 100 years ago from blue porphyry stones quarried nearby.

 The museum is small but well stocked with interesting and choice items. Several of the displayed garments were unusual and rare. The bamboo jacket was especially fascinating. It was made from tiny pieces of bamboo, about 4 mm, like bugle beads, sewn into diamond patterns with linen thread. The garment was worn under fancy silk brocade robes. It allowed for air movement and absorbed perspiration.




Wearing layers of clothing seems unimaginable in present times. Styles and mores of the past were so restrictive. Reasons for wearing lots of clothing varied from modesty to status. Protection from the elements, biting insects and hazardous work conditions made sense. On the other hand, some cultures believed that uncovering the skin could be hazardous to ones' health.

Here is a close-up of hand made button holes on a brocaded wedding dress from the late 1800s. The dress was small, made for a woman of about 5 ft. height. It was before the era of Queen Victoria, when she started a fashion trend by wearing a white wedding gown.

I thought of the Beatrix Potter's story, "The Tailor of Gloucester." The Tailor was ill, so the mice finished his work on a wedding jacket for the Mayor of Gloucester. "The stitches of those button-holes were so small--so small--they looked as if they had been made by little mice."