Making clothes


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Hello Monica,

Your chosen site has bought many memories back to an entirely different era that so rightfully belongs to my late great Grandmother. For a brief while she was in service with a huge family household up in Manchester, but soon departed and found herself working in one of the many cotton mills around Swinton. A district in Manchester.

In their spare time, they employed their services as a 'seamstress' and for some of them, and depending how good your quality of work became, they earned a damn good living despite the hardships of everyday life.

She continued her needlework skills right up her death in 1991 at the great age of 106. I still have all three of those special Telegrams for the Palace.

Thanks for putting up this site and allowing me to think back to a special time of my life with Gran!

Andrew W.
 
During 'Coronation Year', 1911 - even for some years afterwards - the Dowager Queen of England, Alexandra, still occasionally make her own gowns. And they were - those labelled 'Worth of Paris' not excluded - among the most beautiful she ever wore. Yet these, over almost five decades, she had as unassumingly given away.
 
Hello Andrew,
I'm glad you enjoyed the site - I just came across it when I was looking for links for this Life on Board section that I was organizing. My own granny was in service as a Ladies Maid, despite the fact that she was, by all accounts, rotten with a needle, unlike yours. I do wonder yours actually had any spare time, after the mill, cooking, housework, children etc. .... still, no TV eh? And what an age she lived to! Just think, you could be only half way through your life?
I see you live near Southampton - I'm up the road (well, M3) in Farnborough.
Don - I never knew that about Queen Alexandra.
Anyway, Shelley and I have agreed to put all threads about threads into Gilded Age, so to continue this and see much, much more, go over there.
 
D

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Hello Monica!

If I recall correctly, the year she married was 1910. The normal ruling applied in all house holds in Britain, once married, she had to stay put and keep house.

She didn't only make clothes, she made tons of curtains, cushions and table clothes. That was Gran's own little cottage business. However, and to my great Grandfathers horror the big bombshell came after all the hostilities over World War One, had cease.

She did, what I usually call, the unthinkable. For the record, she was never deeply involved political, but only partly involved for the cause of women's rights, but she did manage to save and gather up enough squirrel money, and hand over to the 'suffragette movement'.

Apparently, Grandad wasn't very pleased with her actions to say the least.

Yes, roughly ten miles away from the port. Yes, I'm nearly reaching the half way stage of my life thank you.

A.W.
 
I think yours and mine might have got on together quite well. Mine was always attending meetings, chaining herself to railings etc. My poor old Grandfather didn't know what was going on really, and expired rather early in the 1950s from what sounds like sheer despair. However, Granny battled on into the 1970s and her 86th year (a spring chicken by your Gran's standards). What lives they led really - ours seem very tame by comparison.
 
As Donald points out, needlework was a passion of the upper classes as much as it was a necessity for the lower. Lady Diana Manners (later Lady Duff Cooper), the daughter of the Duchess of Rutland, in her autobiography recalls her own homemade copy of a Lucile dress which she wore to a Coronation festivity. It's a funny story, because she split a seam in it as she curtsied to the Queen!

This example of a wealthy society girl making her own clothes is typical, especially of Great Britain, where there seems to have been much emphasis on economy in aristocratic households, perhaps following the lead of King George who kept the Queen and their daughter, Princess Mary, on a tight dress allowance.

Getting back to Lucile, even she continued to sew her own daughter's clothes well after the latter had married. This despite the fact that she had a hundred seamstresses in her employ who could do the work. It was a very fashionable past-time, this making of clothes.
 
It is a satisfying business, making clothes and, of course, can be a great affirmation of affection. As in Lucile's case of making things for her daughter herself. I used to do it when my children were young (they certainly wouldn't dream of wearing them now, of course, they want labels). However, I did it on a modern serger! So, no needlework involved, which was lucky as I think I take after my rotten-with-a-needle granny.

Diana Manners was an interesting character. I'm surprised her seam split, as she was known as a perfectionist and a bit of a polymath. She and her husband Duff, a politician, were the spitting image for Evelyn Waugh's characters Julia and Algy Stitch in many of his novels. She appears as a loyal but heartless friend, a formidably clever social butterfly, someone who did exactly as she liked without a thought for popular opinion, and a woman who could fix anything through her vast network of contacts - if your face fitted. I wish I knew someone like her!

Actually, Randy, now I think of it, I wondered why Waugh called her 'Mrs. Stitch' in his books - you may have supplied the answer....
 
Oh - and as an afterthought, Randy - my granny was Duff Cooper's nursemaid! She used to hear from them after they were married, and visited from time to time. But she wasn't a reader, so I don't think she ever read Waugh's characterization of them.
 
Monica,

I think I have said this to you before but I must repeat it after hearing about your granny's interesting position.: You MUST write a book!

I wasn't aware Waugh had used the Duff Coopers as the basis for those characters. How interesting! I love Waugh and his work.

Randy
 
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