New – Damask Liberty print Tana Cotton Lawn reversible & washable face masks
In time for the introduction of the mandatory requirement to wear face masks in shops as well as on public transport, Damask have launched a range of pretty but practical Liberty print Tana lawn cotton face masks. Each mask is reversible, so you have a choice of two different prints to wear, together with adjustable ear loops, a top opening for a disposable filter and 2 pleats allow them to fit everyone.
Tana lawn is cool and comfortable against the skin and machine washable fabric makes them reusable and hygienic to wear. Available in a variety of prints, why not treat yourself to a few, so you always have one ready to wear.
CHILDRENS SUMMER NIGHTWEAR SALE – MORE THAN 40% OFF UNTIL 25TH AUGUST
Tatler front cover, Christmas 2001.
Damask childrens traditional cotton nightwear has been a popular choice with parents and children alike for more than twenty years. The enduring quality of our nightwear means they can become heirlooms to be passed on to the next generation.
When my children were young, I realised there was a lack of pretty children’s cotton nightwear so I looked to my children’s favourite story books and nursery rhymes as inspiration for our range of childrens embroidered cotton nightwear. Favourites include ‘Titania’ a fairy nightdress and ‘Margot’ a ballet inspired nightdress on white cotton. Boys pyjamas feature embroidery themes such as ‘Biggles’, using old fashioned aeroplanes and ‘Stirling,’ featuring brightly coloured racing cars. Boys pyjamas are made from a crisp pale blue cotton poplin fabric.
Damask use only fine quality cotton fabrics and all nightdresses are treated with flame retardant finish to comply with BS5722. Our nightwear is finished to a high standard using only the best quality trims and buttons and is machine washable at 40°C. Styling is traditional with generous sizing that starts from age 3 upto 8 years. The nightwear collection comprises nightdresses and pyjamas.
The origin of lullabies and nursery rhymes
The oldest children’s songs of which we have records are lullabies, intended to soothe and help a child sleep. The English term lullaby is thought to come from “lu” and “la” sounds made by mothers to calm children, together with “bye bye” as a term for good night.
For generations children have been entranced by nursery rhymes and it is thought that they were set to music to help in a child’s development and improve their vocabulary.
A favourite childrens nursery rhyme book of mine is called: “A Stitch in Rhyme” with nursery rhymes and embroideries by Belinda Downes, published by Methuen.
A former artist-in-residence at Hampton Court Palace and an artist widely exhibited around the world, she is an expert needlewoman. For the book illustrations she has stitched playful pictures of Jack and Jill, Humpty Dumpty, Old King Cole, Ring-a -Ring o’ Roses and nearly fifty other favorite bursery rhymes onto fabric with colorful patchwork borders.
‘Biggles’ aeroplane embroidered boys cotton pyjamas available from: http://www.damask.co.uk
Margot ballet embroidered girls nightdress available from: http://www.damask.co.uk
All designs Copyright Damask for the Home Ltd. 2017
White Cotton Nightwear, cool for Warm Summer Nights
To keep cool on warm summer nights, Damask have introduced a new style to their range of white cotton ladies nightwear – Clarissa, a pretty white nightie with delicate 1cm wide shoulder straps and 18cm long pintucks on front & back, white on white embroidery between the pintucks.
As embroidery has always been an important feature of our nightwear, we often look to antique pieces for our design inspiration. With this in mind I have chosen a selection of some of the finest antique embroidered pieces from the V & A archives below:
Baby’s long gown (detail). White muslin, embroidered and finished with a scalloped hem. circa 1850. The intricate embroidery suggests it may have been Indian in origin.
Apron detail. White muslin with white work embroidery, bordered with Flemish bobbin lace. Circa 1720-1740. The embroidered chinoiserie design depicts birds in flight, pagodas and Oriental figures.
White work embroidery refers to any embroidery technique in which the stitching is the same colour as the base fabric (traditionally white cotton, muslin or linen). White work embroidery was one of the heirloom techniques used for sewing nightwear, chemises, christening gowns and baby bonnets.
Muslin collar with white work embroidery. circa 1830-1869. This collar has been finely embroidered with patterns of sprig motifs, diamonda, stars, leaves, berries and flowers. It is said to have been worn by Queen Victoria as a girl.
Muslin collar with Chikan embroidery. Possibly from India, 19th century. This collar for a chemisette is finely embroidered with birds and elephants, probably for the European market.
Chikan is a traditional embroidery style from Lucknow in India. Literally translated, the word means embroidery. Believed to have been introduced by Nur Jehan, the wife of Mugal emperor Jahangir, it is one of Lucknow’s best known textile decoration styles. The market for local chikan is mainly in Chowk, Lucknow, although the technique is also used nowadays by missonary nuns in that area to produce delicately embroidered tablelinen as well as garments. Chikan began as a type of white-on-white (or white work) embroidery.
The technique of chikan work is known as chikankari. Chikan is a delicate and artfully done hand embroidery on a variety of textile fabric like muslin, silk, chiffon, organza, net, etc. The fabric cannot be too thick or hard, or else the embroidery needle won’t pierce it. White thread is embroidered on cool, pastel shades of light muslin and cotton garments. Nowadays chikan embroidery is also done with coloured and silk threads in colours to meet the fashion trends and keep chikankari up-to-date. Lucknow is the heart of the chikankari industry today and the variety is known as Lucknawi chikan.
Apron detail. White cotton work on muslin. Circa 1725-1750. the motif incorporates an Indian style buti (flower) embroidery motif.
White on white Aari style embroidery is the inspiration for Una from our nightwear collection.www.damask.co.uk
Aari embroidery is practiced in various regions such as in Kashmir and Gujarat. Embroidery in India includes dozens of regional embroidery styles that vary by region. Designs in Indian embroidery are formed on the basis of the texture and the design of the fabric and the stitch technique.
Copyright belongs to the V & A on all archive images. www.vam.ac.uk
Damask Post – inspiration for our embroidered cotton nightwear, May 2017
This month I wanted to mention some of the beautiful dresses that have inspired my embroidered cotton nightwear designs over the years. The Victoria & Albert Museum wedding dress archive collection includes examples using beautiful fabrics, embroidery and attention to detail.
Together, their collection of wedding dress expresses social and historical change over four centuries. As individual garments, they reveal fascinating insights into the lifestyles and tastes of their original owners.
Every dress in the collection has its own story, but the four described here are particularly distinct. The most important dresses of their wearer’s lives, they make bold statements about identity and personality: belonging to four very different women, living four very different lives.
The oldest of these dresses was worn by Mary Dalton Norcliffe in 1807. The sash-tied empire line dress might look familiar if you’ve watched a Jane Austen period drama. Late 18th- and early-19th century England was preoccupied with neoclassicism. Much like modern-day fans of 1950s vintage clothing, the Georgians romanticised an earlier time. Mary’s dress, influenced by the styles of Ancient Rome and Greece, would have been a very fashionable choice. It also seems appropriate that Mary, only 17 when she married, chose a style which had its origins in children’s and early teen wear – the simple sash-tied and embroidered dress evokes the simple cotton muslin garments worn by young girls, before they progressed to stiff bodied gowns.
The second dress, a fine example of Edwardian elegance, belonged to Edith Hope-Murray. Edith married Reverend Thomas Senior in south London in 1902. She was a clergyman’s daughter, who, through marriage, became a clergyman’s wife. These social distinctions meant she had a high standing in the affluent middle-class suburb of Upper Norwood, where she and her family lived.
The dress, made by skilled local dressmakers Houghton & Dalton, consists of a separate cream silk beautifully embroidered bodice and skirt, which swells into a stately, heavy-lined train. The high neck and long, darted sleeves convey a sense of dignity and sophistication, befitting of Edith’s conservative standards and social rank.
In contrast to this, thirty years later, society beauty, Margaret Whigham (later, the Duchess of Argyll), wore a stunning Norman Hartnell gown for her 1933 wedding to Charles Sweeny at Brompton Oratory, London.
Public interest in the wedding was spurred on by daily mentions of Margaret in the newspapers. On the day, the couple’s exit from the Brompton Oratory was filmed by Pathé, and shown as a newsreel entitled Brilliant Society Wedding. So large was the crowd of spectators, Hyde Park traffic was brought to a halt. For an event that was so much in the public eye, leading British fashion designer Norman Hartnell (who would later design both the wedding dress and Coronation gown of Queen Elizabeth II) created a spectacular dress.
Designed specifically for making an entrance, Margaret’s dress has an 18-foot train framed in ruched silk tulle. It is scattered with pearl-embroidered stars, some of which are transparent, placed both on the skirt and the dress’s bodice. Opulent and lavish, this dress, and the extreme public interest it inspired, secured its wearer’s position as a signifier of style and fashion.
Twenty five years later, in 1957. Laurel Heath wore a very different Norman Hartnell dress for her wedding to Gerald Robinson. Following wartime restraint, the late 1950s were a time of glamour and elegance. Fortunately for Laurel, she had a mother-in-law who appreciated style and had all of her clothes made especially for her by Hartnell. Laurel experienced Hartnell’s beautiful workmanship and eye for detail when her mother-in-law gave her a Hartnell dress to wear on her big day.
Wedding dress with matching satin clutch bag, Norman Hartnell, 1957, London, United Kingdom. Museum no. T.530-1996 Victoria & Albert Museum, London
As this was to be Laurel’s second marriage, she wanted to avoid the floor-length fuss of a first-time bride. Instead, Hartnell made her a dress that rested at mid-calf, its skirt rounded and full in the manner of a ballerina’s. Such cuts were very fashionable at the time, popularised by the likes of Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face (1957), which came out the same year as Laurel married Gerald.
Each of these dresses demonstrates how a bride’s fashion choices reflect elements of her personality and status in married life. Historically, they provide a glimpse into the evolution of female identity.
A selection of these beautiful dresses from the V & A archives can be seen in Room 40 at: Victoria & Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, South Kensington, London SW7 2RL.
Keep warm on cold winter nights with a cosy quilted bedspread or dressing gown, 30% off until end February
With the cold Winter weather here, why not keep warm and cosy with a quilted bedspread or dressing gown. Until the end of February, Damask are offering more than 30% off their range of quilts and ladies quilted cotton robe. visit http://www.damask.co.uk
Quilting was a popular social activity among women in the mid 19th century and is enjoying a resurgence in popularity today. Often known as a ‘Quilting Bee’, it provided a social space for women to gather and gossip while they simultaneously used their artistic and sewing skills. The quilting bee was often held in a local hall or church which allowed up to 12 women to attend though often the number of guests was limited to seven, who, with the hostess, made up two quilting frames, the equivalent of two tables of bridge. Good quilting and sewing skills in earlier times was a social requisite, and it meant an amibitious woman should be an expert with her needle.
Le Touquet quilt available in king size. Was £199, reduced to £139 until the end of February. visit: www.damask.co.uk
Quilts have been a passion of mine since I made my first log cabin quilt by hand, using Liberty prints.
In the late Nineteenth Century the log cabin patchwork quilt was very popular in the United Kingdom and in the Unites States of America. This design has an equal number of light and dark shades of fabric that radiate out from the square in the centre and is one of the simplest blocks to sew.
It is still very popular today as it can be sewn fairly quickly. It is sewn into a block and then the separate blocks can be sewn to form a quilt that will give a light and dark patterned design depending on how they are sewn together.
More than 30 years later my log cabin quilt has become a family heirloom and is still in good use.
I have since made a variety of quilts included appliqued quilts where a cut out fabric (for example a flower design) is stitched onto the base fabric before quilting. The technique of appliqué goes back as far as sewing does when people began using other bits of cloth to cover up holes in clothing items. Appliqué derives from the word appliquer which means to cover or put on. Early appliqué was used to lengthen the life of clothing and moved into decorative designs used on quilts.
Trapunto, from the Italian for “to quilt,” is a method of quilting that is also called “stuffed technique.” A puffy, decorative feature, trapunto utilizes at least two layers, the underside of which is slit and padded, producing a raised surface on the quilt. Popular designs using the trapunto technique include paisleys, flowers, leafs and diamond patterns.
One of my favourite places for a day out that has a beautiful range of quilts is the ‘American Museum in Bath‘. https://americanmuseum.org
The museum reopens this year on 18th March and is open Tuesday – Sunday 12-5 pm. It opens with an exhibition of ‘the Jazz Age – 1920’s Fashion & Photographs and is well worth a visit.
Housed in a beautiful Georgian house overlooking the vale of Bath, the museum takes you through the history of America, from the early settlers through to American independence. The museum has a room devoted to its extensive collection of quilts together with rag rugs and embroidered samplers.
Quilts & Textiles
Ranging from the eighteenth to mid-twentieth centuries, the American Museum’s collection of over 200 quilts is acclaimed as the finest of its type in Europe. Over 50 quilts are always on view in the Textile Room (on the first floor of the Museum) and throughout the Period Rooms. Also on display in the Textile Room are a selection of Navajo weavings, hooked rugs, and woven bedspreads.
Baltimore Album Quilt, made for or by, someone living in Baltimore during the years from 1846 to 1852.
Chalice Quilt, made by slaves on the Mimosa Hall Plantation in Marshall Texas for the use of the anglican Bishop of New Orleans, mid 19th century.
Hannah Taylor sampler. Samplers were made by young girls learning to sew different embroidery stitches, mid 19th century.
There is also a lovely shop selling fabrics for patchwork as well as the Orangery cafe & terrace selling home made food from American recipes including home made cookies, chicken pot pie and pecan pie.
Summer memories of childhood – places to visit and activities for the school holidays
Whilst preparing a summer promotion for my childrens nightwear, I remembered some of the places I used to visit in the long school holidays with my children when they were younger. One of our favourite museums was the V&A Museum of Childhood, Cambridge Heath Road, Bethnal Green, London E2 9PA. Open daily 10 – 5.45, admission free. www.vam.ac.uk/moc/
They have a programme of activities and exhibitions and children will love the range of toys, old and new including some lovely dolls houses and there are plenty of hands on activities.
The Museum holds a collection of around 100 dolls’ houses, models and shops, we can learn a lot about how people used to live by looking into these miniature worlds.
Mr Potato Head
The invention of New York born George Lerner, Mr Potato Head was launched by the toy company Hasbro in 1952. the original Mr Potato Head contained only parts, such as eyes, ears, noses and mouths, and parents had to supply their children with real potatoes for the head. Over the next three decades, a variety of Mr Potato Head products were sold including Mrs Potato head and two children, Spud and sister Yam.
Mr Potato Head has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity in recent years, due in part to his appearance as one of the characters in the enormously popular animated feature films Toy Story, Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3. The Mr Potato Head pictured is the British version was made by Peter Pan Toys in 1960.
They also have a wonderful clothing collection which includes over 6000 garments and accessories worn by children from birth up to their teenage years. One of my favourite is this beautiful smocked dress because it is reminiscent of the beautiful hand smocked dresses my mother made for my sisters and me – we have kept some of them as they are now heirlooms, our own daughters have worn them and they are now waiting to be passed down to the next generation!
Patchwork dress, 1942 V & A Museum collection
Another passion of mine is patchwork and quilting, a selection of quilts are available on the Damask website: www.damask.co.uk
One of the dresses in the museum’s collection is a patchwork dress made for a little girl called Jane by her mother in 1942 after an unexpected invitation to a children’s party. By this stage of the Second World War, parties were unusual as there were significant food shortages and many children had been separated from family and friends after being evacuated.
At this time, new party dresses would have been very difficult to obtain as clothing was rationed, and cost money as well as precious coupons.
The night before the party, after Jane had gone to bed, her mother collected every spare scrap of fabric she could find. In the morning, Jane’s patchwork party dress (pictured) was ready: her mother had cleverly made a dress using all the scraps of fabric.
This also reminded me of some of the classic children’s books by Mary Cicely Barker my daughter Lucy used to enjoy, featuring fairies and wood land creatures – a perenially popular theme with little girls. Inspiration for the embroidery on my nightwear designs, ‘Titania’ and ‘Tinkerbell’ came from some of these delightful books and illustrations including:
‘Wee Forest Folk – Fairy Circle’
‘The Fairy Orchestra’ by Cicely Mary Barker
‘Titania’ fairy embroidered pure cotton nightdress available from: http://www.damask.co.uk
Until the end of August, Damask have a 30% off sale on their traditional childrens nightwear.
Damask specialise in beautiful childrens nightwear. Our exclusive embroideries feature perenially popular themes such as fairies, ballerinas, racing cars and aeroplanes.
We use fine quality fabrics in white cotton lawn for girls and wovens for boys.
All nightdresses are treated with flame retardant finish to comply with BS5722. All nightwear is finished to a high standard using only the best quality trims and buttons and is machine washable at 40°C. Styling is traditional with generous sizing that starts from age 3 upto 8 years. The nightwear collection comprises nightdresses and pyjamas.
Another museum dedicated to children is:
The Museum of Childhood. 42 High Street, Edinburgh EH1 1TG.
Open 10 – 5 Mon – Sat, Sun 12-5pm. Free entry.
The Museum of Childhood is a fun day out for the whole family. Young people can learn about the children of the past and see a fantastic range of toys and games, while adults enjoy a trip down memory lane.
They will enjoy finding out about growing up through the ages, from toys and games to health and school days. Hands-on activities, including a puppet theatre and dressing up area, together with our fantastic museum shop, help to make your visit a memorable one.
The Museum of Childhood’s costume collection contains over 2,500 items of clothing. These range from dainty christening robes to sturdy sandals and dressing up costumes.
The costume collection covers baby clothes, boys’ and girls’ ‘best’ clothes, school uniforms, society uniforms and all sorts of other clothes and accessories.
Visitors to the Museum can see ‘children’ dressed in their party clothes, school uniform and fancy dress. These outfits are only a fraction of the collection, which covers everything from sailor suits to cowboy hats.
They have lots of baby clothes from the period 1880 to 1930, including beautifully-made christening robes. Baby clothes were often kept for sentimental reasons, and many of their christening robes have been passed down through families for generations.
Amongst clothes for older children, there are lots of party or ‘best’ dresses for girls and Highland outfits or sailor suits for boys. They have more girls’ clothes than boys’, as they tended to last longer, and their prettiness made them hard to part with.
In 1997, the Museum acquired a wonderful collection from a former television costume designer. It is made up of childrens everyday clothes and shoes from the early to mid-20th century – the sorts of things that weren’t kept, and so have become rare.
They don’t just have clothes in the collection. Their accessories collection includes fans, bags, purses, jewellery, muffs, parasols and hair ornaments, many of which reflect adult fashions.
A model aeroplane made from Meccano and inspiration for our boy’s pyjama called ‘Biggles’
‘Biggles’ aeroplane boys pyjamahttp://www.damask.co.uk
Another children’s museum worth a visit is:
Sudbury Hall and the National Trust Museum of Childhood.
Main Road, Sudbury, Ashbourne, Derbyshire, DE6 5HT.
The National Trust Museum of Childhood is a delight for all ages with something for everyone. Children can discover something new, or relive nostalgic memories by exploring the childhoods of times gone by, make stories and play with toys. You can be a chimney sweep, a scullion or a Victorian pupil, and enjoy interactive displays.