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Past Events
Date: 04/10/2014




Friends Meeting House, Friargate, off Castlegate, York YO1 9RL

Heather Audin, Curator of the Quilt Museum in York, came to speak to us about the links between costume and quilting and how the Museum is always on the look out for more acquisitions to their growing Collection. As the Heather explained it is not just quilts and patchwork that they have in the collection. Any fabric item that is made using two layers of fabric that encloses a third layer in between can be described as quilted. The third layer between can be anything from padding to wool or string. Therefore the museum collection contains many items of clothing as well as household textiles.

The collection spans 3 centuries and Heather described some of her favourite pieces of clothing starting with an 18th Century silk quilted petticoat, a pair of silk quilted boots, a babies bonnet and a Turkey red petticoat. A recent acquisition was a black silk mourning bonnet. A more modern piece in the collection is a jacket that belonged to Winifred Childs, a crazy patchwork in velvets with embroidery over the top. Its always a bonus to know who the garment was owned by and its own history and in this case the garment was rescued from a child’s dressing up box just before being thrown out.

The quilts and coverlets in the collection are extensively researched by volunteers and staff to correctly date them. To know the provenance of a patchwork quilt is quite special and one in particular in the collection from Aida Denton has each hexagonal piece described in detail saying where it came from and what it was the original use of the fabric.

To learn more about the collection visit the York quilt museum

Heather was happy to answer questions from the members at the end and was interested in the definition of a ‘nail’ of cloth. (A 'nail' is a measure of 2½ inches.)

After lunch,Anna Day began her talk with the words of Tobias Smollet describing the fashions arriving into London from Paris in the second half of the 18th Century. Sons of wealthy families were travelling to Europe and starting their ‘Grand Tour’ by purchasing Paris fashions. This is seen on many of Bunburys caricatures of that date. Easily a year’s wages could have been spent on clothing in Paris by these young men. Smollet was pre occupied with making criticism of the French dress and its cost but he too was paying that ridiculous price for his own shirts and his wife was well attended to on many a shopping trip.

One of the most outstanding aspects of 18th century wear was the wigs which grew in size through the century and was not confined to ladies as the men were also vain when it came to a good powdered wig. Smollet observed that a man would more readily part with his religion than his wig.

On returning to England the young men in their Paris fashions would meet together at a London Club free from ridicule. They were called the Macaronis.

Anna finished the talk by concluding the 18th century like no other took the art of fashion to increasingly absurd extremes.

Janet Hull

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