Interpreting the Straw – a Pondering

I’ve decided I need different attire if I am going to interpret sewing straw in public. While my working middle class attire is appropriate for interpreting in the millinery shop, I do not feel it is appropriate for interpreting the sewing of straw done in a domestic setting.

I’ve decided to take a closer look at the clothing worn in illustrations, and the occasional painting, to see what the women work while plaiting and sewing straw.

There is one small or not so small glitch in my plan for different attire, it needs to be suitable or easily tweekable for a couple different decades as I may be out at the museum while different periods ranging from 1812 to 1860 are being interpreted.

This illustration nicely shows the stages of straw manufacture as it takes place in England. Alas, the system was different here in the US. (Please, read From Field to Fashion to know more.)


Dunstable and the Plait Manufacture, The Queen, 1861

This painting is quite informative. Two downsides. First, it is again England. We didn’t have plait schools here. Second, as much as the loose bodice could appeal for comfort, I really do not want to propagate the bodice and skirt separates myth that this attire could me miss-construed as.


George Washington Brownlow – A Straw-Plaiting school in Essex

This may be one of the more comfortable and practical sets of clothing I’ve seen illustrated. While published in the mid-century, the actual date of illustration is unknown. By the hat on the ground to the lower right, I suspect this is the 1840s. This could be a versatile foundation to work off of. That being a cross-over style sacque, skirt, and apron with a shawl added if necessary.


Straw plaiting in St Albans.
From ‘The Illustrated London News’ 1853

Although not the age, era or area I need to be looking at, I need to share this painting because it is just so wonderful:


Tuscan Girl Plaiting Straw

Published in: on March 21, 2016 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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