Posted on

Tatting and Lace Making

Tatting, one of the easisest ways to create handmade lace, is an easy art form to pick up– and quite addictive. Thought to have originated in Italy in the 16th century, it gradually made its way across Europe until, in the late 18th century, it could be found decorating all types of items from reticules to bonnets, caps and handkerchiefs. Imitation tatting can be purchased, but nothing beats the real item. Costume designer Andrea Galer supports this dying craft as she uses handmade lace in her items. All the lace as seen in Miss Austen Regrets, Mansfield Park and Persuasion is made by hand by craftswoman in Sri Lanka. The women had lost everything in the Tsunami and the lace making project allows them to rebuild their lives as well as the incredible craft. You can view and purchase your own Austen garments, made by Andrea Galer, at our online shop. Click here. Handwork allowed a woman to sit still and be useful at the same time. It enabled her to show off her industriousness, good taste and delicate hands. Small piece of work such as lace making, were acceptable items to occupy one’s time with, while visiting, and could be brought to a friend’s house for a cosy bit of work over tea and conversation. At the time when tatting was introduced in England, Netting was already a popular past time and many ladies, including Queen Anne, Queen Charlotte and Madame Pompadour chose to be painted with or holding (more…)
Posted on

How to Dance Mr. Beveridge’s Maggot

  To be fond of dancing was a certain step towards falling in love -Pride and Prejudice Many English Country Dances, like American contra dances, are danced to a pair of phrases of music played AABB — i.e. the first phrase is played twice, and then the second twice. In contrast, the generally accepted version of Mr. Beveridge’s Maggot–a version usually attributed to Pat Shaw–has the structure AAB. This is the version given here. When Cecil Sharp interpreted this dance for modern consumption, he decided he could not get all the instructions to fit into so little music, so he published a dance to fit AABB. Cecil Sharp’s version is also widely known, and is given in Palmer’s Pocket Playford.* This dance was originally printed in Playford’s Dancing Master in 1695. Although neither this particular dance nor the duple minor formation it is in were being used in Jane Austen’s day, the dance is a very ‘cinegenic’ dance. I’m not here giving the Cecil Sharp version which has a longer B part dance sequence to fill out a repeated B part (even though the original clearly says play the second strain but once). I’m here giving a closer-to-original Dancing Master (1695-1728) version. This is the sequence they dance in the movie Emma, but in that movie they dance the sequence just once then go into a snowballing cast off. P&P2 has the same non-Sharp B part as given below and used in Emma (with the dramtaic up and back) but (more…)
Posted on

Jane Austen’s Easter

Colonel Fitzwilliam’s manners were very much admired at the parsonage, and the ladies all felt that he must add considerably to the pleasure of their engagements at Rosings. It was some days, however, before they received any invitation thither, for while there were visitors in the house they could not be necessary; and it was not till Easter-day, almost a week after the gentlemen’s arrival, that they were honoured by such an attention, and then they were merely asked on leaving church to come there in the evening. For the last week they had seen very little of either Lady Catherine or her daughter. Colonel Fitzwilliam had called at the parsonage more than once during the time, but Mr Darcy they had only seen at church. The invitation was accepted of course, and at a proper hour they joined the party in Lady Catherine’s drawing room. Pride and Prejudice Easter is arguably the most important holiday in the Christian Calendar. It is on this day that Christians from all denominations celebrate Christ’s victory over death, for, as the Apostle Paul states in 1 Corinthians 15 , “If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins…But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” That victory is the sure knowledge that He is the Son of God and that all He said was true—who else could be raised back to life from the dead? “For he taught his disciples, (more…)
Posted on

English Muffins

The entrance of the tea-things at seven o’clock was some relief; and luckily Mr and Mrs Edwards always drank a dish extraordinary and ate an additional muffin when they were going to sit up late, which lengthened the ceremony almost to the wished-for moment. The Watsons Oh, do you know the muffin man? He was a common enough character in Jane Austen’s day- even garnering a mention in Persuasion! English styled muffins (different from the modern quickbread version) were made of yeast raised dough and baked on a hot cast iron griddle. They are thought to have originated in 10th century Wales. These early muffins were the fare of the lower classes and didn’t see the fashionable tea table until the 17-1800’s. As tea became a meal in itself, many cooks tried to out do each other with elaborate pastry and iced confections. For those not given to sweets, however, English Muffins, toasted and buttered, could be just as delicious. Growing in popularity throughout the 19th century, the muffin became the “most fancied” bread on the Island and English Muffin factories sprang up all over England. Muffin men, hawking their wares in city streets, were a common sight. Because they bake so quickly, a plate of steaming hot muffins soon became a tea table staple. Served in their own silver dish, the muffins would be split, toasted over an open fire, buttered and served, sometimes with jam or preserves. English muffins and their American equivalents were also served at breakfast- (more…)
Posted on

The Life of a Seamstress

March 15th – The seamstress came this morning to begin my wardrobe. We were with her for more than two hours and Mama ordered so many new gowns as that I am sure I shall never wear the half of them, but she insists that I must be properly dressed. – From The Journal of a Regency Lady, Chapter 5 By Anne Herries   Dressmaker shop in 1775. Image from Regency England by Yvonne Forsling The above quote, though coming from a contemporary author, might well have been written during the regency era. Women’s clothes were made at home during this period by the ladies themselves, their servants, or a professional seamstress. A dressmaker (or mantua maker) would charge about 2 pounds per garment and come to the house for fittings, where she might be served tea. A successful mantua maker who had set up shop in the fashionable part of Town would also provide a pleasant environment in which a lady could relax, serving tea and refreshments to prolong the shopping experience. In her letters, Jane Austen mentioned a Miss Burton, who made pelisses for her and Cassandra in 1811. The cost of cloth and labor were reasonable, she wrote, but the buttons seemed expensive. Fabrics, increasingly mass produced, became more affordable during the Industrial Revolution, and demand for clothes grew among the newly wealthy middle class women. Young girls who sought work in the cities became seamstresses in homes and sweat shops. A little over twenty years after (more…)
Posted on

The Hands

“Don’t you find it colder than it was in the morning, Elinor?…I can hardly keep my hands warm even in my muff.” Sense and Sensibility The following advice is offered from A Manual of Politeness: Comprising the Principles of Ettiquette and Rules of Behaviour in Genteel Society, for Persons of Both Sexes. This charming title was anonymously printed in Philadelphia in 1837, however the advice it offers is timeless. The Hands Cleanliness is no less essential to comfort than health, while no one thing is so truly degrading as dirty hands or face in a lady.—It displays, at first sight, a familiarity with very low habits, that is even shocking to the delicacy of the female character, where we naturally look for every outward perfection of appearance that is pleasing and engaging, as the nature of their habits and pursuits is supposed to be of a much more refined order than that of men. In high life, few things more bespeak the true lady and gentleman than the appearance of the hand. Lord Byron has gone so far as to affirm, that a white and delicate hand is a sign of patrician birth. Although I cannot exactly agree in this declaration, yet the attention that is commonly bestowed upon the hands in the upper circles of fashion at once shows the importance that is attached to them. One assertion may be relied upon in reference to the hands,—the finest and most delicate from nature may be made coarse by neglect; (more…)
Posted on

Gentleman’s Watches and Fobs

“We have been exactly a quarter of an hour here,” said Edmund, taking out his watch.

“Oh! do not attack me with your watch. A watch is always too fast or too slow. I cannot be dictated to by a watch.”
-Mansfield Park

Gentleman’s Watches in the 18th and 19th Centuries

In 1675, Charles II of England introduced long waistcoats. As this became the fashion, men’s watches began to be worn in the pockets of the waistcoat instead of pendant style from the neck.

In 1704, English watchmakers Facio de Duillier and P. and J. Debaufre developed a method for using jewels as bearings. Though in 1715, this practice was still rare, byabout 1725 it was common to find a fairly large diamond endstone mounted in the time piece. The most common watches of the early 1700’s had pair cases in gold or silver, both of which were plain. Dials were mainly champlevé, but were slowly replaced by white enamel dials with block numbers. Continue reading Gentleman’s Watches and Fobs