About Poppies Cottage
My dear friend and customer, Liz, has created a Georgian reception room! And she's back with more!!! See below!
Built in the 1750’s, Poppies Cottage is the ideal setting for period clothes and textiles. Not at all grand, just like its owner, we like the rare & fabulous but equally value the historically simple items that were used by people long ago.
As the owner of Poppies Cottage, my background in textiles goes back to my childhood, surrounded by a family seeped in the textile industry. I have a First Class Hons. Degree in teaching textiles and am still constantly aware of how little I know! Thus important items are always researched as far as possible, and when I really don’t know, there are a wealth of collectors and historians out there who have helped me endlessly. For this, I am very grateful.
One of my first and dearest advisors told me to value every antique, even when there are still lots of them in circulation. ‘I suppose that once there were lots of Toga’s you could buy’ he said wisely! Yes, treat every antique garment as if it is a Toga, and we will all enjoy them for many years to come!
A Poppies Cottage (grizzly!) ditty...
Rats in the corridor
Mice in the hall.
How did antique textiles survive at all?
Moths loved the wool,
Damp loved the cotton,
How have antique textiles avoided being so rotton?
If you are new to textiles
of a hundred years or more,
Remember there is HISTORY
behind each tiny flaw.
A stain, an odour, little munches
may have been the antique lunches
for many critters from the past.
Thank goodness they were made to last!
Antique textiles are so fine
that they have stood the test of time.
But then, Sir Walter Raleigh
discovered how to smoke!
And tobacco was a habit
for a whole range of folk.
And trunks full of antique cloth
were filled with the smell.
In the wars it was promoted as ‘a better kind of hell’.
Did you know that the Georgians
found bathing really COARSE?
They drowned themselves with perfume
Whilst smelling really gross!
The Victorians were too fine to sweat
though perspiration splattered.
The ladies didn’t lift their arms
So sweating rarely mattered!
So if your whim is antique clothes
as many people do
Remember they have HISTORY
and are not AS NEW!!!
(With sincere apologies to poets, everywhere and throughout time!!)
Poppies Cottage Gossip Column
Shhh! Just between you & me …
Did you know? …..
Much of the gossip below comes from ‘Modes and Manners’ Max Von Boehn, translated by Joan Joshua, Vol 4 ‘The Eighteenth Century’ George G Harrap & Co Ltd. 1935. Then from my own family history. Plus from ‘What Clothes Reveal’ Linda Baumgarten – The Colonial Williamsburg Collection. 2002, Yale University Press. Then from a host of sources, read & absorbed into my brain over time. With thanks.
* Did you know? …… Infant & children’s wear in the 18th Century were fastened in the same way as adults – with straight pins. Ohhhh!
* Did you know? …… That 18th Century gentle folk found bathing a very strange activity. Commenting on Fredrick the Great’s sister by his wife: ‘she simply stinks’. Ohhhh!
* Did you know? ……Another 18th Century lady, on finding a bath in her newly acquired home, had it immediately removed & installed as a fountain in the grounds! Ha!
* Did you know? ….. 18th Century ladies gowns have surprisingly large and basic stitched seams. Even though the finest stitching was possible. This was for at least two reasons -
- The fabric was so fine and expensive that the gentry wanted to have clothing that could be altered over time to follow fashion.
- This grand, silk clothing could be cleaned! Well, after a fashion. To have a gown cleaned, however, it had to be completely dismantled, unpicked, treated , and then sewn up again. The ‘dry cleaner’ method of the Georgian era. Isolated spills could be ‘spot cleaned’ by the household staff. I wish I had their recipe!
* Did you know? ….. Whilst the outer finery was sewn so simply until later in the 18th Century, the undergarments were sewn with the tiniest, finest stitching. Pure linen, they had to undergo vigorous washing by hand with harsh soaps. Appreciated by few today, they were constructed by maids and governesses without much appreciation. Known as ‘plain sewn’ items, a few of us adore these simple & exquisitely sewn clothes today. I AM a ‘plain sewing geek!’
* Did you know? ….. That everybody today, ignores poor old King William IV [1830-37] We think of Georgian, Regency & Victorian. William bridged the monarchy between the Regency era and the crowning of the young Queen Victoria. He married Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen and added the Waterloo Chamber to Windsor castle. I adore the 1830’s romantic era! Campaign for William, I say! [Unless he was nasty, of course, in which case please ignore the last sentence].
* Did you know? …. That the young Queen Victoria refused point blank to wear a crinoline frame. She thought they were ridiculous!
* Did you know? ….. That the finest Regency embroidered muslins came from India. Whole families would sit on the floor adjacent to a huge length of muslin & embroidered it together. In this way, yards and yards could be sewn far quicker than by individuals. I wouldn’t recommend it as a profit making job though.
DO YOU HAVE ANY AUTHENTIC TEXTILE GOSSIP?
IF YOU CAN NAME A SOURCE, I WOULD BE THRILLED TO INCLUDE IT!
* Did you know? …. That in the absence of advertising, Parisian tailors sent dolls across the western world, dressed in the latest Paris fashions, as early as the late 17th Century. Orders would follow for ‘true size’ copies. [Where are these dolls? I want one!]
* Did you know? …. Philosophers such as Rousseau & medics of the 18th Century alike, warned in the sternest terms about corsets [stay] for the female form. Nothing that they said had any affect on fashion. One mid 18th Century lady boasted of having a waist of 15″ [30cm]. EEEEK! Ladies of the 18th Century would don the corset- stay, in the morning, and then tighten it every 15 minutes or so, throughout the day, as the bones warmed up. [Ohhhh!]
* Did you know? ……. That our perception of male dominance over females throughout the 18th Century is not quite accurate – at least when it comes to fashion! Take the obsessively high hairstyles of the early to mid 18th Century. With decoration so elaborate that mice lived within, and at least one full ship was modelled to the top! The story goes that in France, the King’s mistress, The Duchess de Fontanges, tied her hair up when it came loose during a hunt. The King made a comment that he adored the tied up hair. All ladies were let loose with their hairstyles as a result! The King eventually objected when the height of ladies hair was almost as large as the rest of their bodies. His abolition of these hairstyles had no effect whatever for many years! Hehe!
* Did you know? ……. That the 18th Century lady was very grateful to have no specific underwear below the waist? Those panniers, hoops & stays were so inconvenient when needing a ‘wee wee’ [blame my dear mum]. At the call of a servant, a bourdaloue appeared, skirts were lifted, and the lady was relieved. Do beware if you collect old china gravy boats! They are almost identical! Thank you ‘A’!
(I have just found a superb video on this topic, presented by Lucy Worsley, Chief Curator of Historic Royal Palaces. Search youtube.com, Bathroom History of the Home 1 of 4)
Displaying antique clothing and textiles
Some of my long term customers are kind enough to send me photographs of the exhibitions & displays that the clothing bought from me has contributed to. Their skill in showing antique clothing to their best effect always thrills me! I am hoping to show some of the photographs here so do keep checking back. A feast for the eyes! I will NEVER show photographs without the full permission of the owner! Do let me know if you would like to share a display, no matter how small, as long as one of Poppies Cottage purchased items is included.
Find us on PINTEREST! click here
* The wonderfully talented Rachael Kinnison, owner of ‘The Lady’s Repository Museum’ in the US, has allowed me to share this photograph with you. Rachael bought this little shift, so rare and 18th Century, from Poppies Cottage some time ago. It is rare because of the pleated sleeves, the pleats so tiny and precise that it is impossible to see how they were made. You can see similar in the V & A Museum for both babies and ladies. So, the story goes that I obtained the shift and fell in love. But it was so very stained. For a long, long time, I debated. Wash the shift and lose the impossibly ironed pleats, or keep it as it is, knowing that the stains would rot the fine linen eventually. I washed it. Each and every pleat lost it’s sharp crease and merged into a kind of gathering. Oh Dear! Worse still, I had lost the little note of provenance that came with it. A disaster! Rachael, who just like me loves the history of clothing in higher esteem to the condition, asked to see it. History continues, as it sits on her [pretend] baby Livy, with the pleats looking as good as possible! A proud place in Rachael’s superb museum. And a very proud Poppies Cottage, despite our mistakes! If you haven’t seen Rachael’s website, it really is essential education; she has examined and researched so many 18th Century pieces. [AND she is as delightful as she is talented!]
Liz puts the final touches to the beautiful polonaise gown bought at Poppies Cottage before it goes to it’s final destination. Liz also makes her own Georgian wigs! Amazing!!!
Kelly triumphs again! A Regency gown for retirement has been transformed at the hands of Kelly, and now has a new lease of life! A fabulous Regency example, she has all her bobbles and tassels. All the better with accessories. You can find Kelly’s superb Regency research on Pinterest [see ‘The Study’] for direct link.
Using a prop for a simple display:
I don’t have the space for permanent displays, but do love to use a ‘prop’ for my photographs. Here, a simple, curvy high table is used to group Regency clothing together. It brings the baby clothes close to the adult clothes, thus creating a focal point for all.
An antique country chair with character can house a wonderful group! The seat, the back, the arms: all are props for a group of themed items – A Victorian wedding.
* See ‘The Art of Dress’ Jane Ashleford, page 232, Fig 202, for similar and better! [Full reference in The Study]
Kelly continues to go from strength to strength with her Regency collection, which by now must be very fine. Her recent purchases from Poppies Cottage include a spencer in the most dreadful condition, that she has patiently restored. She teamed it with an earlier purchase to create ‘a Regency wedding’. Next, she bought a superb late 18th Century gown, at the very beginning of the Regency era, and I sent with it a much pieced and damaged early whitework petticoat. Unrecognisable now, it has made both a fichu and a beautiful petticoat for this splendid gown. Kelly’s creativity and sewing skills will continue to amaze me!
Anton Priymak, of St Petersburg, is a dedicated collector of antique underpinnings and has bought a number of garments from Poppies Cottage. His collection is stunning, made even better by superb photography. Anton has a ‘Facebook’ page showing his wide collection – see The Study for the link. Here are just a few of his photographs, spanning the 19th Century. WOW!
Esther has shown budding collectors how the focus on one type of fashion can be displayed to superb effect. Shoes recently bought from Poppies Cottage have joined Esther’s fine collection of antique footwear. A reasonably small space just bursting with history!
The minute I saw this gown I fell in love with it. Dating to the late 1820’s, very fragile, the ferns printed on the feather-weight fabric, were so real that one could almost lift them from the background. So glad that Kelly has bought it to renovate, and matched it with the bonnet she bought from the cottage earlier. [See below]. Doesn’t it look glorious outdoors?
Dirk-Jan List is a serious collector of antique lingerie and makes replica’s from the 18th Century onwards. He has bought from Poppies Cottage to add to his extensive collection. He has kindly sent photo’s of some of his collection showing at the Exposition: ‘Enchanting silhouettes on the dance floor . Shape and function of the petticoat, 1710-1960′. [In Hardinxveld-Giessendam, April – June 2012.]
Dirk Jan’s own collection is entitled HiLCoN [Historic Lingerie Collection, Netherlands]
The photographs below include some of his wonderful replica’s.
Esther has sent photo’s of more recent purchases from Poppies Cottage, see below.
How fabulous are her mannequins?
This Regency outfit now belongs to Kelly.
Kelly is the most recent of my treasured customers to send in her photographs. Kelly is in love with Regency and has bought quite a few items from Poppies Cottage, including a gown, shawl, bonnet & shoes. She has put them together to transport us all back to the early 19th Century!
Liz has bought two Georgian gowns from me... She has created a magical Georgian reception room with five 18th Century ladies!
She is also currently making Georgian wigs ... how talented!
Many more photo's to come from Liz. I just love her creativity and skill.
The next group come from ‘E’ who creates super environments using antique mannequins of all sizes.
E has bought many items from Poppies Cottage in the past.
All this group date from different era's but compliment each other so well.
Huge Thanks to ‘E’ for these superb photographs!
Marion Rowbottom in her theatrical roles
Marion uses authentic gowns in her theatrical roles, and looks wonderful in them.
Between productions, she treasures the pieces as a collector.
Thank you Marion!
Here is ‘S’, wearing a 1930s dress and parasol bought from Poppies Cottage. S is also a customer who buys her own authentic vintage clothing to wear for theatrical productions.
‘J’ bought a damaged Art Deco beaded cap from me, to add to her beautiful 1920’s window display. She added a bead fringe to the raw edges and it now looks just fabulous. She told me that she cannot sew, but she seems to have done a fine job to me!