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Selvedge — Historical textiles

An extension of the print magazine’s tone of respect, intelligence and joy in the world of textiles, our blog is a daily contribution to the Selvedge conversation. Featuring exhibitions, people, adventures and opinion, the Selvedge blog is not only a meeting point for the Selvedge community but also an entry point into the world of textiles for those looking for an original and broadening perspective.

MADE IN THE MIDDLE

Exhibitions Historical textiles Selvedge shows and workshops

“The Midlands” is a term rarely used outside of weather and travel reports. As a cultural and geographical region, it is frequently ignored by the binary-obsessed media, who focus instead on the “north/south divide”. However, the Midlands area has a rich history and cultural heritage, and was incredibly important to the development of Britain’s textile industry. In the beginning of the 18th century, it was the production of Midlands wool that was one of the key British industries. The city of Nottingham was also once the heart of the world’s lace industry, and was the site of the invention of the...

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Blue Alchemy

Artisans Artists and Designers Books Historical textiles Selvedge

Indigo is a textile dye, extracted from species of the Indigofera plant which contains a chemical compound called indican. When processed in certain ways, the green leaves of the plant produce a striking blue colour. Indigo can be a temperamental dye, and special knowledge is required to produce it. Used since antiquity, for a long time it was the world's only blue dye. At the end of the 19th century, this came to a sudden end when synthetic indigo took over in commercial and industrial practices. In traditional societies it still holds a place both culturally and artistically. The indigo dye process...

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Made in China

Exhibitions Historical textiles shows and workshops

This post is in part an extract from the Romance issue of Selvedge magazine. The Fan Museum is a reminder, for both visitors and staff, of a former, gentler age when courtesy and care were extended widely. Perhaps the genteel nature of the collection makes it so or maybe it is due to the founders, Hélène and A.V. (‘Dicky’) Alexander? These two individuals – a husband and wife whose passion created this small independent museum – both came from families with a long tradition of hospitality, and this ethos is reflected in the museum’s special atmosphere. The museum is housed...

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Plots & Spangles

Exhibitions Historical textiles shows and workshops

'The single most important body of work by a named Englishwoman in early modern times.' Mistress Helena Wintour was only six years old when her father, Robert and uncle, Thomas were hung, drawn and quartered in 1606 for their involvement in the gunpowder plot. Her life was subsequently dedicated to Catholicism with embroidery as her daily act of devotion. Through her lavishly embroidered priest’s vestments Helena Wintour was able to communicate her religious, social and political agency. Although it is known that Helena did take some quite serious physical and active measures in the name of Catholicism ­– she harboured...

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Liberty in Fashion

Exhibitions Fashion Historical textiles shows and workshops

Founded in 1875, the influence of Liberty's original prints on British fashion seems overarching, the multi-coloured florals and swirling patterns instantly recognisable to the consumer. The prints, which have been in production for 140 years this year, are celebrated at London's Fashion and Textile Museum in October's exhibition Liberty in Fashion. The fabrics in 2015 seem as relevant to British design culture today as they have throughout their history of production, appealing to the housewife who could buy the fabric as a wallpaper in her kitchen, or the Sixties teen girl who could cut it into a hand-sewn mini dress. Its best attribute,...

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