a fantastic threadbare edwardian bodice

I was so happy when this threadbare edwardian bodice arrived – it has so much and I love examining the details and scars of these old things. They feel like time travelers to me  – emissaries from a world away. It’s easy to find old black garments (ebay) but rare to find the qualities I love best.  There is a particular shade of black I like in garments of this age – it fades in a particular way.  This bodice has a fantastic range  of tones to work with.

threadbare edwardian bodiceThe texture is great too and has variety that is useful and inspiring to me – a few tiny moth holes, worn tissue thin in places and darker and more opaque in others – lovely for layering and feathers.The sleeves are gathered and blousy at the shoulder, that fabric usually escapes a lot of wear – has more integrity for sewing and stuffing.  And the velvet details – oh boy. It’s my favorite part – little accents of velvet worn to perfection. Feathers for a raven or other dark bird and I have to make an owl just because of that velvet and the remaining black glass buttons. I love it when I can make a creature entirely from a single garment and I think there are at least three here.

black velvet cuff

antique black buttons

threadbare edwardian bodice

It is such a beautifully constructed and designed thing – every detail is careful, thoughtful and precise. It is impossible to handle it and not think about the woman it belonged to and the world she lived in.  I see her in that world – her hands in that familiar, unconscious movement of buttoning all those little buttons – looking in the mirror – thinking of something else.


  1. Oh, Ann, I so love your attention to detail and devotion to these garments. I have forever been intrigued by the stories of things, and as my sewing practice matures, I appreciate the histories of cloth even more. You and Ruth Singer inspire me to embrace every stain, every frayed edge, and celebrate them in my work. I’m so grateful to you!

  2. Ann, I am a longtime fan but I have never replied before. I love all your stuff. It’s beautiful and inspirational to my own work. This entry is especially touching, very well written. Thank you for sharing with us.

  3. Phyllis de Vries

    I agree with Jaymie and her description of your “attention to detail and devotion to these garments”. I, too, can imagine a woman, a delicate lady buttoning her garment and thinking of something beyond her task at hand. I love the way you cherish the wear and tear of a garment. The patina of a worn textile or ribbon is definitely a very special experience to treasure.

  4. One of my favorite things to do is to deconstruct older garments. Not to sound melodramatic, but when I eyeballed the detail inside this time-traveled jacket, it took my breath away. Yes, and so fun to imagine the adventures or day-to-day business of the woman (or several women) who wore this. Such a great share! Thank you.

  5. There are many days when I think of Cuthbertson of the sly but patient wise eye.
    He stole my heart away with his courtly demeanor and long eyelashes.
    I imagine you will find some relatives here hidden in this lovely jacket.

  6. Oh isn’t it just stunning. Do you have a hard time bringing yourself to take it apart? I love that you are giving it a new life.

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