Sunday, 7 August 2005


There are a couple of threads around, on a mailing list and sort of here, about whether to make things to look at, or use. Which is the dilemma I have with the Jeans Bag at the minute. So I have put is aside for today.

A while ago we were talking about the term "Plain and Fancy Work", in terms of women's work - plain being utilitarian household stuff, fancy being the "pretty" stuff. This reminds me in passing (since we are talking a bit about the seventies), of when I was at college in Melbourne. I was at a small, out-of-the-mainstream college, and just across the river, in a more affluent suburb, was another small college we had heard about, but couldn't really understand. It seemed to be some sort of private domestic arts college - and we finally realised is was a sort of practical "finishing school" for young women from good families. Where they were sent to learn how to be good house managers and take an "appropriate" place in society. So, when we heard they were having an open day, one of the other girls at my college went to have a look. And she came back and said it was an exhibition of gentility and manners, and nice, basic sewing (ie plain work), but she couldn't understand why, in one section, there were piles and piles of quite used plain linen on display. Until she was asked - and she was told this was a display about how the students were taught to properly look after laundry!!!!!

Yikes - she came back and was very happy to be one of a small number of women at a Horticultural College. And, I wonder if that other college lasted beyond the seventies.

Which is all part of what I am wondering about at the minute, with the rediscovery of bags and even aprons. In the fifties (which I can just remember), women seemed to have one handbag and matching shoes for winter (black or brown) and one for summer (white or fawn). There didn't seem to be room for self-expression there. But aprons??? Yes! And you only have to look at all the vintage apron patterns coming out on blogs (see sidebar for links) - but do we see patterns for bags of the fifties? So it was still a time of making a virtue of a necessity. Women had to have aprons, but they were encouraged to show their individuality there.

I'm not really sure where the sixties were - I think they were transitional - but by the feminist seventies aprons were a symbol of servitude, and were gone, and we were into jeans and all versions thereof (ie bags), almost as part of the great rebellion.

Now bags seem to be the go - as a way of having usable, practical but individual art.

Just I need to decide what version I have to just be thrown in the back seat, and what I have for more formal occasions.

So here is a small clue as to what I am working on instead of the Jeans Bag:



Blogger Gina E. said...

Oh, VERY nice!! I had a brief try, using the pattern from the book I showed on Patra's Place, but my gingham (the squares) were too large, and the pattern was horribly complicated, so I gave it up as a bad job. But only temporarily - I now have another piece of nice gingham and am going to have a go at duplicating the pattern on my blue apron with red and white thread!

11:12 pm  

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