Northern Society of Costume and Textiles
The Sailor and The Bride
Friends Meeting House, York

Saturday, January 16th, 2016




The Sailor & the Bride’



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

This was a hightly successful day although sadly, due to illness, Gillian Stapleton was unable to present her talk on Charlote Bronte's Wedding Dress.  She was replaced at short notice by our Hon. Secretary Sue Seeger speaking on The Making of the Modern Miss.

Talk by Alison Larkin, Embroiderer and Costume Historian.

Stitches in Time - The story of Captain James Cooks unfinished Waistcoat.

Captain Cook was an explorer, navigator and hydrographer . Born in Marton and Lived in Great Ayton , Whitby and London.

Married Elizabeth Batts in 1762 she was a keen embroiderer and needlewoman.

Elizabeth started to make a new waistcoat for her husband but he died before it was finished in 1779. Due to her continued memorial to her husband she saved many of his belongings including the unfinished embroidered waistcoat. It is relatively rare for embroidery and needlework to have provenance.

Alison Larkin began to research the waistcoat firstly at The Captain Cook Memorial Museum Whitby but the quest to re make an exact but finished replica took her all the way to Australia and New Zealand.

The Sydney State Library and Museum collection contains the actual unfinished Waistcoat. It is made in an unusual fabric call Tapa cloth. An unwoven fabric made from the bark of a Polynesian tree beaten until it is thin, flat and resembles paper. The waistcoat pieces are mounted on Linen and embroidered with S twist and silver passing threads, with silver spangles about 2mm in diameter. In Wellington New Zealand another waistcoat of Captain Cooks was available to measure to get the accurate size for the replica. It is possible the waistcoat was been made for Captain Cooks appearance at court and was therefore much grander than he normally would have worn. James and Elizabeth were working class with a Quaker influence.

Alison was able purchase a 10m roll of Tapa cloth for the replica from Hawaii it took 3 days to arrive by post but in 1779 took 3 years. Every detail was considered when making the replica from the linen fabric backing to marking the position and design of the embroidery. The buttons were guess work and made to match from contemporary design of the date. Rabbit skin glue was used to glue the buckram in place as was popular at the time.

Alison researched the shape and size accurately enough to know James Cooks measurements and he was at least 6’ 2” and quite skinny. Due to the direction of the tambouring Alison also deduced that Elizabeth must have been left handed.

The waistcoat has been on display in the Captain Cook Memorial Museum in Whitby along with an embroidered map also started by Elizabeth and has been also replicated by Alison Larkin. They will be going to Sydney Australia next year for the 250th anniversary of first sailing of The Endeavour.

Talk by Sue Seeger The Evolution of the Modern Miss.

This covered the time span from 1860 to the Modern Day looking at the fashion of dress that shaped young ladies. From the extremes of the Crinolines in 1863 and Emelia Bloomers bifurcated skirt to the shortness of dresses in 1960s, Sue presented the pioneers of fashion that changed and evolved women’s clothing. The silhouette of women’s dress changed rapidly through a century with bustles starting just below the waist and the fashion for striped fabric moved the bustle down until it no longer served any purpose. The aesthetic campaigners of dress reform were changing women’s ideas and The First World War followed with a dramatic effect when women worked in place of the men ,and for the first time work wear influenced fashion. Through the 20th century Sue described the influence of Vionnet and Chanel to Burberry and Biba. To finish Sue drew our attention to the giant shoulder pads of the 1990 and the explosion of washable almost disposable garments worn by young women today.