The exhibit Threads of Feeling at London's Foundling Museum closes in two days on March 6. However, if you cannot make it there by then *wink*, there is a wonderful online video and slideshow that you can virtually experience. Which is what I did. And I had to share. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
The time period was 18th century London...a time when life was very hard for the working class. Many women were forced through severe hardship to give up their babies and would take them to the Foundling Hospital in hopes that their child would gain admission. Sadly, not all did.
When leaving the child, sometimes the mother would offer a textile token...a piece of the mother's dress or the child's clothing...in order to identify the child should circumstances change and she might one day come back to claim the child.
The scraps were placed in ledgers together with the registration document and kept in the records in case the mother's fortune did, indeed, change. The museum has over 4,000 scraps of textile, Britain's largest surviving collection of 18th century textile history of the ordinary citizen.
The collection gives clues to the translation of fashion to the working classes...Working classes were unable to afford the richly embroidered and woven Spitalfields silks popular at the time. So the working class tended to imitate these expensive woven materials by wearing fabrics that were printed with flora and fauna.
Another interesting thing to note was that there was no distinction in dress at the time between boys and girls (pink=girl, boy=blue didn't appear until two centuries later).
Boys sometimes wore cockades on their bonnets, while girls wore a bow with streamers called a TopKnot.
You can read more about this here at the Austenonly blog. There are a number of these cockades and ribbons as part of the textile collection.
Sometimes the scraps of fabric were embroidered specifically for the occasion...
If you are as interested as I was, I recommend you watch this BBC video here first...
I couldn't help but be moved by all those notes and bits of fabric. My favorite was the story behind this piece...
Explained by the curator in the BBC video.
Happy weekend, beautiful bloggers.