Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Wearable Art

Last month I was asked to present a trunk show to my guild.  You are all familiar with the concept.  Basically, a show and tell about your experiences and sharing of your work.  As I informed my friends, my quilting trunk is fairly empty, so instead, I shared my other passion.  Historical and Vintage fashion.  The subject has been quite dear to my heart for most of my life and based on the response of yesterdays audience, the appeal seems to be universal amongst quilters.

The subject of todays post is on quilted clothing.  This combines both of my loves while staying the course with the object of this blog, our upcoming show in April 2014 and sharing highlights from our last show in 2012.

Early 19th century Banyan
Mid 18th century under skirt

Historically, it is believed that the earliest quilted garments were worn by Asian soldiers as a form of protection against the rubbing of their armor.  These garments were eventually adopted by European armies for the same purpose and may have been introduced during the Crusades.  It isn't much of a stretch to realize how quickly they found favor for domestic use, both as bedding and fashionable garments.  While very early examples have not survived, we do have many beautiful examples from the 18th and 19th centuries.  

The example at the top is called a "Banyan" and was worn by men at home for leisure wear and warmth.  It eventually evolved into the dressing gown or house coat.  The chintz would have been imported from India and if you look closely, the fabric was quilted first and then cut into the required pieces for making up the garment. It was probably made by the women in the household at this time.

The skirt above is a silk underskirt, not a petticoat.  It was meant to be seen as a foundation for the open gowns of the 18th century.  Made of silk satin and heavily quilted, it is typical of some of the earliest examples of ready made clothing that could be purchased from shops. (Click on the pictures for greater detail).  The quilting on this example is truly beautiful.

For quilters and fibre artists alike, the appeal to adorn ourselves with our own efforts continues.  Our quilt show in 2012 displayed some beautiful examples of quilted apparel and the category is sure to impress again in 2014.