textile tuesday

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The most iconic silhouette for the 1920s is the slender, tubular shift, sometimes with some definition well below the natural waist. For evening wear and parties, these gowns were often of silk or rayon, crepe, chiffon or georgette covered with dazzling beadwork. Perfect for lively dancing, the garments are now usually in self-destruct mode – the heavy beads pulling on the thin fabric and perspiration eating away the underarms.   

But, beautiful they remain, including this Nile green example with bronze and rose beadwork and delicate gold metallic embroidery. The skirt flares slightly and the front and back bodice extends into side flaps on the left side. There is a slit in the skirt panel on the left, revealing the matching chiffon underdress. Both the beading and the extra panels add a stylish note of asymmetry to the dress. It was worn by Helen Eulalie Northrop Wall of Marion, South Carolina. Born in Boise, Idaho in 1891, Eulalie married John Furman Wall in 1912. He was a colonel in the U.S. Army – their daughter Bettie was born in California and their second daughter Helen was born in the Philippines – but they settled in Marion.

Not as embellished, but just as swingy, is this aqua silk shift with a black ribbon lattice panel down the center back, around the lower skirt and in triangular pleats on the sides. The armholes have matching aqua chiffon binding. The front neckline has a delicate line of black beading. A pair of black ribbons ending in fringed tassels extends from the shoulder seam to the front and are slipped through front slits, creating a built-in necklace or sautoir. This dress could have been worn with a matching slip – or perhaps peach or cream for an even more tantalizing appeal.

TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from our textile collection.  Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our Historic Textiles Gallery and some may be just too fragile to display. We hope you enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on TEXTILE TUESDAY! #TextileTuesday

Oktoberfest, a German festival, began as a celebration of Princess Therese’s marriage to Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig in Munich on October 12, 1810. The citizens of Munich enjoyed the celebration so much that they decided to make it a yearly festival.  Tradesmen and merchants came throughout Germany to enjoy the dancing, singing, and drinking. Today, Oktoberfest is the largest festival in the world.  Fun rides and beer tents mark the festivities for over 6 million visitors from around the world every year.  Costumes called trachten are popular at the festival with Bavarians proudly wearing their local historical costumes.  Women wear traditional folk costumes unique to certain regions called dirndl, like this outfit.

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The above photo shows a North Carolina College for Women (now #UNCG) student wearing a red athletic vest that is now part of the University Archives Textile Collection. These vests reflected the student’s class color (1931 was red) and enabled teammates to identify themselves on the field when playing against another class.

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Here’s a “hot” number for beach attire - a woman’s lovely two piece bathing suit, 1890s. All made of deep blue wool, the shirt and pants are one piece with a gathered overskirt for modesty. The white trim is cotton twill tape, giving it a nautical flair. To complete the look, our bather would have worn a gathered cap, stockings, bathing shoes and perhaps a corset! Be sure to see the archival photographs from our collection in this posting to see how the ensemble would have looked.

In the 19th century, men had more freedom to actually swim, while women generally went “bathing”, by taking a dip in the water, fully clothed. As late as the 1870s, public beaches had separate times for men and women to “bathe.” By the 1890s, attitudes towards female swimming were changing and the skirt could be removed for more active swimming. Women’s swimming events were added to the 1912 Olympic games in Stockholm. Real swimsuit changes occurred in the 1920s and 1930s when suntans became fashionable and new knitted fabrics were introduced.

TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from our textile collection.  Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our new Historic Textiles Gallery and some may be just too fragile to display. We hope you enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on TEXTILE TUESDAY! #TextileTuesday

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The 1930s boasted some very stylish class jackets at #UNCG. Leather and suede were popular materials for jackets and the students often wore the collars turned up. In some cases, seniors opted to have their yearbook photos taken wearing their jackets. Possibly the snappiest example in the collection is a red leather, double breasted, Class of 1935 jacket.

Textile Tuesday: Velour

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Ah velour. We all recognize it from the infamous “jumpsuit” trend that was all the rage 10 years ago. It came in all different colors-all bright-and it was appropriate for school wear, gym wear and just plain casual wear. Everybody was wearing velour, especially Miss. Britney Spears. 

We can bet that velour became popular because of its soft touch which is a lot like velvet. However, unlike velvet, velour is a stretchy knit that is easy to clean, making it ideal for workout wear. Hence the popularity of the jumpsuit. Besides clothing, velour is also used in upholstery and in drapes. This particular image is of velour embroidery thread.

So keeping sewing! Don’t be intimidated by velour’s infamous past. It can look just as tasteful as velvet and it’s easier to clean too! 

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Check out the new Class Jacket Exhibit in the #UNCG Library/EUC Connector! The tradition of class jackets made its debut at the North Carolina College for Women (now UNCG) in the late 1920s. Before the jackets became popular, the girls wore hats and sweaters in the class colors of green, red, blue, and lavender.  This color scheme would be a continuing tradition with class jackets, although during the lavender years the girls preferred to substitute black, charcoal, or camel colored jackets. Early jackets had unique designs each year and were made of flannel, suede, or leather.  Eventually, they would evolve into standard wool blazers.

State Normal and Industrial College (now #UNCG) graduation marshals for 1911. Left to right: May Green, 1912; Bessie Bennett, 1911; Myrtle Johnston, 1911; Antoinette Black, 1912; Louisa Gill, 1912; Bonnie Broadfoot, 1911, Chief Marshal; Huldah Slaughter, 1911; Catharine Jones, 1911; Leah Boddie, 1912; Minnie Settmann, 1911; Ethel Skinner, 1912.                   

Textile Tuesday: Velvet

Velvet. Just the word seems to roll around in your mouth and elicit thoughts of royalty and of luxury. But where does velvet come from and when did it become just so darn popular? 

Velvet’s been around for about 4,000 years. Its pretty much always been popular among the rich. The royalty and the high class wore velvet and everyone wanted to be like them but not just anyone could afford it. Velvet takes quite a bit of steps to make and it requires way more thread than other fabrics, making it extremely expensive. The thread is weaved into a piece of cloth and the thread that sticks out creates that soft plush velvet texture that we love.

The pile also makes velvet a little difficult to work with. Just keep your design simple or try some velvet ribbon and have some patience. So go ahead and sew up something velvety smooth. We promise it’ll feel nice to the touch. 

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Embroidered cape, vest and purse, c. 1900. This elaborate garment displaying beautiful gold dival embroidery was a popular Turkish export from1850-1920. The cape is fashioned from a circle of brushed woolen fabric, opening at the front with a high, stand-up collar (could be worn up or flat). It has gold thread-covered balls and loops as fasteners and ornaments. Dival embroidery is typical of Turkish work – the wrapped thread is stitched to the fabric, not embroidered through it, using a couching stitch, apparently similar to soutache braid work.  The circular shape, upstanding collar and rolled thread buttons reflect an Albanian style cape or mantle.

This set was worn by Lillian Gambrell McCall (1880-1959) of Bennettsville, SC. She lived at Appin Plantation and married Charles Sinclair McCall in 1911. It was given to the Museum in 2009 by Lillian’s granddaughter, Catherine Gambrell Rogers.

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Today is the birthday of one of history’s most avid bow tie-wearers, Abraham Lincoln, so we’re celebrating with a selection of bow ties from the Charleston Museum’s collection.

Some form of the bow tie has been around for hundreds of years – from Croatian silk kerchiefs and elaborate cravats to abbreviated clip-ons.

A mid 19th century stock would have a stiff band around the neck and a bow in front. Two of our examples here are this type of stock, possibly the kind worn by Abraham Lincoln.  Ours were worn by Benjamin M. Strobel (1818-1894) of Charleston. The two earlier stocks are softer and wider, popular in the 1830s and 1840s. The black silk one was worn by Dr. William Sims Reynolds (1812-1888) of Barnwell County, SC and the white satin one buckles at the back of the neck.

Most of our bow ties – tied and not – date from the late 19th and early 20th century.  The elegant black silk tie with white piping on the edges, bears a label and seal identifying it as an “Original Rotsiegel Krawatte.”  Rotsiegel’s or the Red Seal Tie Factory was a famous Berlin manufacturer of ties – one of the most exclusive brands to be had in Germany. The black silk and rayon bow tie is a “Beau Brummell” tie, “adjustable to your size.” This company was established in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1920 and was widely popular in the 1940s, which is when our tie was probably made. The company was named for the Regency era fashion setter, George Bryan Brummell, the father of dandyism and pioneer of the lavish cravat.

Our wonderful array of pastel cotton bow ties date from the early 20th century. Wouldn’t they be perfect with a straw boater on a summer afternoon? The purple striped tie with complete collar bears the stamp: “The Corsair. / Patent Feb. 18, 1900.” It has a buttonhole to attach to the shirt and a slit at the left side to allow the tie to wrap around the neck, making it adjustable.

Even after the appearance of the four-in-hand in the 1860s which gradually replaced the bow tie, the bow tie has remained popular for full dress occasions and for making a very definite fashion statement.

TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from our textile collection.  Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our Historic Textiles Gallery and some may be just too fragile to display. We hope you enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on TEXTILE TUESDAY! #TextileTuesday

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This lovely embroidered white dress was worn by Charleston author, Josephine Pinckney in the early years of the 20th century, perhaps even at the time of her graduation from Ashley Hall in 1912. Referred to as a “lingerie frock,” as Anne Rittenhouse reported in the New York Times, May 26, 1912, these airy dresses were hugely popular in warmer weather or in warmer climates such as Charleston. They were worn to horse races (Ascot, etc.) and other sporting events, for garden parties, afternoon tea and in all fashionable circles. Miss Pinckney’s dress has delightful and extensive embroidery, lace insertion and raised flowers. It came to the Charleston Museum from her estate after her death in 1957.

Born in 1895, Josephine was the daughter of Thomas Pinckney of Charleston and Camilla Scott of Virginia, both influential Southern families. She attended the College of Charleston, Radcliffe College and Columbia University. She wrote poetry for fifteen years before penning her first novel, Hilton Head in 1941. Her only book of poetry, Sea-Drinking Cities, was published in 1927. Her best-selling social comedy, Three O’Clock Dinner (1945) won her the Southern Authors Award. And Great Mischief (1948) was a Book of the Month Club selection.

But beyond her personal writings, Josephine Pinckney played a key role in the literary and cultural revival that swept through the South after World War I. She moved in the exciting and forward-thinking circle that became the Charleston Renaissance. Here, she helped found the Poetry Society in 1920, was active in the Carolina Art Association (now the Gibbes Museum of Art), the Charleston Museum, the Dock Street Theatre and the Society for the Preservation of Negro Spirituals. Because of her devotion to the historic preservation movement of the city, she was honored by the American Scenic & Historic Preservation Society.

TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from our textile collection.  Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our Historic Textiles Gallery and some may be just too fragile to display. We hope you enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on TEXTILE TUESDAY! #TextileTuesday

Black satin purse, almost entirely covered with silk embroidery, Oriental, early 20th century. Probably made from a panel made for the export market, this beautifully designed embroidery has motifs typical of Chinese workmanship. The ivory Netsuke (man, monkey and ball) clasp is probably from Japan. The bag is lined with changeable silk (pink/gray), has two gathered pockets inside and also contained a gold leather wallet when it was given to the Museum. The 1917 penny found inside also helps date it. This lovely accessory was given to the Museum in 1979 by Gertrude Sanford Legendre (1902-2000); she or her mother may have owned it. Click here to learn a little bit more about Mrs. Legendre.

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TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from our textile collection.  Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our new Historic Textiles Gallery and some may be just too fragile to display. We hope you enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on TEXTILE TUESDAY! #TextileTuesday

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In the early years of the college, the marshals were nominated by their literary societies from the junior and senior classes, and elected during the spring of each year by the Board of Directors. They were chosen for good grades and the highest character. Marshals served at the school’s Commencement and at all public functions in the capacity of ushers. #UNCG continues to have marshals who serve in a similar capacity. The above photos represent marshal dresses from 1906 (above) and 1941 (below)!