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New to Damask, a range of accessories in Liberty print fabrics – perfect Christmas gifts

Damask have chosen some of the most popular Liberty prints, classic & contemporary for a range of cosmetic and wash bags. Perfect for Christmas presents, available on their website: http://www.damask.co.uk

Liberty London is one of the best known department stores in the UK. They are renowned  for their range of  ‘Liberty prints’ – in particular their Tana Lawn cotton.

Since I first started dressmaking over 40 years ago, Liberty print cotton has been a favourite of mine. Over time I have used them to make my own clothes, patchwork quilts, smocked dresses and nightwear for my children. When I started work, my first job was as a cloth buyer for a fashion company. This often involved the re-colouring of prints to offer garments for sale in different colourways. I have always been fascinated by the way a print can be transformed by changing the colours in it. A pretty pastel print can be turned into a bold contemporary print. A classic print can become vibrant with the change of colours. (See examples below.)

Liberty fabrics in London. im pretty sure this is what heaven looks like.Vintage Liberty Fabrics - beautiful fabricLiberty Fabrics - The Classics at Materialise now!

The history of Liberty London

Arthur Liberty the founder, began his career in textiles. In 1875 he started his own business named ‘East India House’ where he sold Oriental imports. These included rugs, ceramics, decorative objects and textiles which were fashionable at the time. Demand for their beautiful fabrics grew so Liberty decided to import undyed fabrics. He then had them hand printed in England in the style of Oriental fabrics. At this point, Liberty started marketing their fabrics as ‘Made in England’ and the distinctive British brand was established.

Whilst travelling in East Africa in the 1920s, Liberty buyer William Dorell discovered silk like cotton close to Lake Tana. Back in Britain, the silk like threads were spun into a lustrous form and screen printed with brilliant ink. This became the fabric that is now known worldwide as Tana Lawn.

In the 1920s, Liberty began to produce miniature floral, paisley & abstract prints that became known as ‘Liberty Prints’. Their fabrics have become best sellers worldwide with over 150 prints to choose from. Available in different qualities including Tana Lawn for clothes & accessories, silk for scarves, and even PVC for wash bags.

Nearly a hundred years on, Tana Lawn is recognised as a unique part of the Liberty heritage. The product of a bespoke production process: hand-drawn by the in-house design team and screen printed in their factory close to Lake Como in Italy, where over 150 different designs are produced. Tana Lawn cotton is by far the most popular – it’s distinctive lightweight hand-feel and translucent softness make it a versatile favourite. It is ideal for nightwear, blouses and shirts and is the perfect fabric for little girls traditional smocked dresses.

Ianthe

The best-known pattern was French in origin and is an Art Nouveau design created by R. Beauclair in 1900. It has been produced in colourways from shocking pink to ochre and elephant grey but in it’s original colourway of mid-blue, burgundy and purple (below left), it remains a signature Liberty print fabric so we have chosen this for cosmetic and wash bags on our website http://www.damask.co.uk

Ianthe Tana Lawn CottonIanthe Tana Lawn CottonIanthe Tana Lawn Cotton

Strawberry Thief

This famous Liberty print was designed by William Morris in 1883. It was part of a group of designs incorporating animals with flowers and has been a classic on Tana lawn since 1955, we have used the popular colourway on the left below for cosmetic and wash bags on our website http://www.damask.co.uk

Strawberry Thief Tana Lawn CottonStrawberry Thief Tana Lawn CottonStrawberry Thief Tana Lawn Cotton

Mitsi Valeria

This is a smaller version of the Liberty London Classic design ‘Mitsi’, the original being designed by Gillian Farr, a member of the design studio in the 1950s. Recoloured, the pattern takes on a different hue from pretty pastels to vibrant reds and hot pink used in our range of wash bags and make up bags available on our website: damask.co.uk

Mitsi Valeria Tana Lawn CottonMitsi Valeria Tana Lawn CottonMitsi Valeria Tana Lawn Cotton

Tresco

From The Botanical Garden Collection, this modern watercolour Liberty print is a study of flowers, ferns and succulents and represents a rich collection of plants gathered from around the globe.

The vibrant green colourway (in the middle) is used in our range of wash bags and make up bags on our website: damask.co.uk

Tresco Tana Lawn CottonTresco Tana Lawn CottonTresco Tana Lawn Cotton

Hera

Among the oldest designs Hera is named after the Greek goddess associated with peacocks—the bird’s feathers were a fashionable Aesthetic Movement motif during the last quarter of the 19th century. Designed in 1887, it features the iconic peacock feather pattern.

Hera Tana Lawn CottonHera Tana Lawn CottonHera Tana Lawn Cotton

Ciara is a print taken straight from a popular 1960s Liberty scarf and has been reworked into a vibrant and colourful pattern.

Ciara Tana Lawn CottonCiara Tana Lawn CottonCiara Tana Lawn Cotton

All prints copyright Liberty London  http://www.libertylondon.com

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Save the Date – Chelsea Physic Garden Christmas Fair 26 & 27 November 2016

Save the Date – Chelsea Physic Garden Christmas Fair

26 & 27 November 2016

Just a reminder that Damask will be exhibiting at the Chelsea Physic Garden Christmas Fair for the first time, where apart from our ladies & children’s nightwear and  quilts, we will be selling a beautiful range of

Christmas decorations, stocking fillers & new-born baby presents – all hand made in England by a talented friend of mine, using vintage prints. They make lovely Xmas presents like this heart-shaped tree decoration

Heart Shaped Christmas Decoration

 

 Christmas bunting

christmas bunting

 

Christmas tree jingle bell decorations

 damask christmas deco

 

Vintage print pin cushions & needle cases – great stocking filler for keen  sewers!

 damask pin cushions

 

Doggie bandanas – so your dog gets to dress up at Xmas too!

Available in assorted vintage prints including London transport, scull & cross bow and scottie dogs. Available in small & medium

 dog bandanas

 

Lovely gifts for new-borns, baby bunting & heart decorations available in pink or blue

 baby shower deco

There will be over 100 exhibitors selling a broad range of beautifully designed and crafted products including jewellery, clothing, contemporary crafts, toys and a selection of festive fare. We look forward to seeing you there.

The Christmas Fair is on: Sat 26 Nov 10am–5pm & Sun 27 Nov 10am–4pm

Adults £6 / Friends & under 16’s free

Tickets available on the door, or pre book on their website:

www.chelseaphysicgarden.co.uk

Chelsea Physic Garden

The Chelsea Physic Garden

This month I wanted to talk about one of my favourite gardens in London, and definitely worth a visit. Located between Chelsea Embankment and the Kings Road, (10 minutes walk from Sloane Square tube station or a short bus ride from Victoria station).

Chelsea Physic Garden is the oldest botanic garden in London and was founded in 1673 by the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries for the purpose of training apprentices in the identification and use of medicinal plants. It subsequently became one of the most important centres of botany and plant exchange in the world.

Chelsea Physic Garden

Nowadays it is dedicated to demonstrating the medicinal, economic, cultural and environmental importance of plants to the survival and well-being of humankind and is a celebration of the beauty and importance of plants. A unique living collection of around 5,000 different edible, useful, medicinal and historical plants is contained within its sheltering walls.

The Garden’s warm microclimate means that many tender plants flourish here including a number of rare and endangered species. It has the largest outdoor fruiting olive tree in Britain and the world’s most northerly outdoor grapefruit tree. From pomegranates to ginkgos, mulberries to eucalyptus, there are over 100 different species of tree in the Garden, many of which are rare in Britain.  The Glasshouses hold a collection of tropical and sub-tropical species, complemented by a Victorian Cool Fernery.

This hidden gem is a peaceful green oasis for a relaxing stroll and lunch or afternoon tea at the Tangerine Dream Café which sells delicious food freshly prepared and cooked on the premises, using some of the plants grown in the garden.

More information about the garden’s rich history  can be found on their website.

The Garden of Medicinal Plants 

 The Garden of Medicinal Plants

Save the Date – Christmas Fair 2016

26 & 27 November 2016

 

Damask will be exhibiting for the first time at their popular Christmas Fair in November, where we will be selling our ladies cotton nightdresses & children’s cotton nightdresses, pyjamas & cotton dressing gowns together with a selection of quilts and accessories, all of which make ideal Xmas presents.

There will be over 100 exhibitors selling a broad range of beautifully designed and crafted products including jewellery, clothing, contemporary crafts, toys and a selection of festive fare. It is the perfect opportunity to buy gifts for your loved ones or perhaps to treat yourself. This fundraising event will help to support the Garden.

 

The Christmas Fair is on: Sat 26 Nov 10am–5pm & Sun 27 Nov 10am–4pm

Adults £6 / Friends & under 16’s free

Tickets available on the door, or pre book on their website:

 

www.chelseaphysicgarden.co.uk

The Garden, Café, Book & Gift Shop are  open Tuesdays – Fridays, Sundays and Bank Holidays until 31 October 2016.

On Mondays the Garden is open, 10am – 5pm, but the Book & Gift Shop and Café are closed.

 

Chelsea Physic Garden:  66 Royal Hospital Road,  London SW3 4HS

Telephone:  +44 (0)20 7352 5646

June inspiration and vintage ideas

In addition to our range of ladies & children’s nightwear and quilts, Damask have added a selection of vintage and designer clothes for sale on our website: www.damask.co.uk  Items feature  lace, embroidery, unusual prints and woven textiles.

We are pleased to offer a 20% discount on our vintage pieces for the month of June

ROWE OF KINGSTON BLACK LACE COCKTAIL DRESS

‘Rowe of Kingston’ beautiful 1950’s black lace ball gown with fitted bodice and flared 3 layer skirt.

ROWE OF KINGSTON BLACK LACE COCKTAIL DRESS

Detail of the dress with black taffeta shoulder straps and bows on the side fronts.

Blank London quilted reversible jacket

‘Blank of London’ reversible hand quilted cotton coat using Indian block prints, black ground with green flowers reversing to mustard yellow floral print.

Blank of London

For inspiration this month, I visited the Fashion Museum in Bath www.fashionmuseum.co.uk where they currently have an exhibition entitled:

A History of Fashion in 100 Objects and includes a selection from their ‘Dress of the Year’, where a fashion expert is invited to choose a piece that epitomises the year in fashion.  2011 featured a beautiful long white dress with exquisite embroidery, by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen.

Some of my favourite pieces in the Behind the Scenes: Historic Collection were the delicate white muslin Regency dresses from the Jane Austen period. Muslin is a cotton fabric that was first made in the city of Mosul in Iraq, from which it derived its name. Early Indian muslins were hand woven from fine hand spun yarns and were imported into Europe from India in the 17th century, where they were used in the manufacture of clothing

A selection of beautiful antique pieces are available from a website called: antiquedress.com

antique dress

Embroidered Empire muslin gown 1805-1810

muslin gown regency

Regency girl’s muslin gown

muslin gown embroidered

White embroidered muslin dress circa 1820

I have often looked to vintage clothing for inspiration for the Damask range of ladies white cotton embroidered nightwear.

A page from a New York department store featuring nightwear & petticoat designs circa 1910

Nightwear Sketches

Womens Nightwear Barcelona

Barcelona above, is one of the nightwear styles Damask sells which is inspired by an antique nightdress, a feminine white cotton lawn nightdress with fine pin tuck detail, frilled neck and cuff edge and delicate Mother of Pearl buttons. The front button opening makes it suitable for maternity and nursing mothers.

Another exhibition well worth a visit is  Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear  at the Victoria & Albert Museum, South Kensington, London SW7 until 12th March 2017 www.vam.ac.uk

It examines the history of intimate garments throughout history and the inventions and fashions that have shaped them. Some of the most interesting exhibits are the boned and laced corsets women had to wear to create the narrow waisted silhouette for period gowns.

corset cotton

Corset, cotton with whalebones circa 1890. V & A Museum

black corset woven silk

Corset, black woven silk boned corset with tiny blue & pink flowers with tiny blue & pink flowers made for Madame Worth circa 1890. Fashion Museum, Bath.

 

Damask – Our Story

Damask was started in 1987 by Carolyn Dunn. With a background in fashion and textiles, she used her knowledge of handicraft skills and textiles to make an exclusive range of classic pure cotton nightwear for ladies & children.

 

Damask derives its name from the finely patterned fabrics produced in Damascus in the middle ages and introduced to Europe by crusaders in the 11th century.

It is woven using a jacquard loom to produce high quality fabrics in cotton, linen and silk and its qualities makes it suitable for garments, table linen, bed linen and home furnishings.

Over the years Damask have established a loyal following for its ultra feminine white nightwear. Front button openings make the styling popular for maternity, nursing mothers and hospital stays. Cotton is a soft and absorbent fabric making it ideal for wearing in bed.

*”With the right birth partner, massage with essential oils and a new Damask nightie, I too could have an earth-mothery, drug free delivery.”

*Quote from The Daily Telegraph, ‘The Mummy Diaries’ by Rachel Johnson.

Using only the best quality pure cotton lawn, Damask’s designs are enhanced by delicate embroideries where flowers often offer inspiration. Hand- made laces, details such as pin tucking and Mother of Pearl buttons all give the designs a feminine look.

Damask Sweet Pea

One of Damask’s most popular styles for the maternity and nursing mothers featuring a front button opening is ‘Eleanor

Maternity Eleanor

Our History…

Carolyn’s background in fashion included working for ‘French Connection’ and ‘Monsoon’, sourcing handicrafts, garments and textiles in the Far East. As a result of this experience, she worked as a consultant for  The Indian Handloom Export Council travelling around Southern India by train visiting handloom mills. The mills were mainly run by people who had never travelled outside of India and had no idea what the western market wanted. Indian domestic taste was for bright colours, and those exporters who did travel outside of India, usually arrived to see buyers with a suitcase full of all the samples they had ever made. Carolyn’s job was to advise the Council how they could tailor their offer to appeal to the Western market.

With £2000 earned from this trip, and the knowledge she had gained of the home textile and clothing markets, she set about starting her own business sourcing products from the companies she had met in India, many of which were started by entrepreneurial independent women.

Back in 1987 the Victorian heirloom look was very popular for nightwear and this provided the inspiration for the first range inspired by a book on Victorian nightwear and pieces bought at antiques fairs.

Nightwear SketchesVintage Nightwear Sketch

Over the years the company has built up a loyal following for its cotton night wear including members of the royal family. Each style is given a girl’s name to suit the design. A customer purchased a “Lolita” to wear as a wedding dress on a beach in Antigua, and a photograph of “Desiree” in The Daily Telegraph brought a flood of men wanting to buy it for their wives.

When Carolyn had her children, she discovered how practical the night dresses were for maternity and added a range of children’s nightwear featuring embroideries of favourite pastimes and nursery rhymes. Grandparents and parents still like to see little girls wearing demure white nighties with delicate embroidery. Favourites include ‘Titania’ a fairy embroidered nightdress and ‘Margot’ a ballet inspired embroidery on white cotton. Boys get to choose from more robust embroidery themes, popular styles are ‘Biggles’, using old fashioned aeroplanes and ‘Stirling,’ featuring brightly coloured racing cars. Boys pyjamas are made from a crisp pale blue cotton poplin fabric.

Tatler Damask Cover

Childrens Nightwear Margot

Margot Nightdress

Childrens Nightwear Biggles

Biggles Pyjamas

The company opened its’ first shop in 1995 in the New Kings Road and was one of the first stores to offer a lifestyle brand. Everybody thought the location was dreadful because it was on a busy stretch of road by a set of traffic lights. However, it had a great frontage which allowed for good window displays and a captive audience caught by the traffics lights. The shop had a loyal customer base as well as a French and American clientele and many celebrities who saw it as a quintessentially English range.

Damask Shop Sketch

In 2005, Carolyn took the decision to concentrate exclusively on an online shop. The website was recently updated to reflect the move towards online shopping and features the most popular ladies and children’s designs and a selection of quilts. A vintage clothing section has been added to reflect her continuing interest in fashion, vintage clothes and accessories.