Tagged: underwear

Nov 16

Support SecondhandFirst Week



SecondhandFirst Week

SecondhandFirst Week


Tomorrow (today if you’re reading this on the email feed) marks the first day of #SECONDHANDFIRST Week, 17-23 November 2014.

The week aims to encourage people to commit to sourcing more clothing and other resources second hand. It’s organised by TRAID, the charity doing tireless work to ensure sustainable and ethical practices in the clothing chain. It’s hoped that this will become an annual event.

Here in Bath, the Big Mend is delighted to be acting as a partner organisation, and we’ve arranged one of our Flash Mend events* in Bath Central Library on Monday 17th November. We’d love it if you’d join us any time from 1-4pm with some hand-held mending: darning would be ideal as we’ll be hoping to quietly impart mending skills to passing library users. If you’re in Bath and would like a quick darning lesson, come down and say hello, pick up a darning mushroom and try out some stitches with us.

Here are ways you can support the week:


Flash mend event

A Big Mend Flash Mend event


*Mass mending events in public places





Feb 28

Red petticoats

Portrait of Daisy Grant, the artist’s daughter, wearing red petticoat and grey gloves, 1857


It’s a leap year. This fact probably hasn’t escaped you. If it has, make the most of your double dose of St David’s Day daffodils. As I’ve mentioned before, the 29th February was traditionally a date when convention was overturned and a woman was allowed to propose to the man of her choice, but only (according to one source*) if the woman in question was wearing red petticoats.

I hadn’t heard about the red-petticoat proviso before today, nor the price any chosen man was obliged to pay if he wished to decline: a pair of gloves for Easter, or a silk gown.

Reference to red petticoats always takes me back to that scene in The Railway Children (the flannel petticoats portion is about 7 minutes 20 seconds in).  Flannel was a soft plain- or twill-weave wool or cotton cloth used for underwear, especially petticoats. There’s a scarlet wool version available to American re-enactors over here (you have to scroll down quite a way). Red flannel petticoats were very much in vogue in the 1860s  (Queen Victoria may have favoured them) and remained popular throughout the rest of the Victorian period. But they tended to be bulky and by the 1890s were considered more functional than fashionable. Their appearance in E. Nesbitt’s 1906 storyline (worn by children who find them hot and cumbersome, and readily tear them up to avert disaster) reflects a certain humdrum utility. Incidentally, Edith Nesbitt overturned a few social norms herself; she was a political activist who cut her hair short, took up smoking, got married when 7 months pregnant, and may have had an affair with George Bernard Shaw – though not necessarily in that order.

I hope that summoning up the mental image of Jenny Agutter de-petticoating herself before swooning on a railway track has made any male readers of this blog (in the unlikely event that they exist) very happy.  I also hope that you enjoy your leap day, ladies. Please remember to propose responsibly.



* Maypoles, Martyrs & Mayhem by Quentin Cooper & Paul Sullivan, Bloomsbury, 1994

PS The portrait above belongs to the Scottish National Gallery, its purchase aided by the Art Fund in 2005.



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