Stitched Narratives

Stitched Narratives

  
Dr. Anne Bissonnette, Larisa Cheladyn, Stephanie Huolt, Robyn Stobbs 
and Sarah Woodyard exhibition co-curators
April 9, 2015, to February 19, 2016

 

The hand stitches a needlewoman applied to cloth reflected her life and expertise. The garments produced were the result of advanced training, and combined the skill of cutting with fitting for a variety of bodies and silhouettes. Consider for a moment: are these stitches an alternative language to the written word?

 

Eighteenth-century dressmakers, called mantua-makers, undertook rigorous apprenticeships. While men also earned a living with a needle, mantua-making was a specialized trade dominated by women. The dressmaker’s trained eye and her exposure to changing styles encouraged the ever-evolving cycle of fashion. The manipulation of scissors, fabric, and needle performed by the mantua-maker were of personal and global economic importance.

 

Many of these women’s names have been lost to history because their lives were not recorded with pen and ink. Cloaked in anonymity, their experiences and expertise were stitched in place, as evidence of skilled, paid female-dominated employment.[1] While the mind’s stories can be recorded with words on page, the hand can reflect a different form of knowledge. These stitches communicate complex stories of labour, global economy, and cultural identity “written” with a needle.[2] 


CLICK ON LINKS BELOW TO ACCESS TEXT PANELS

   

Stays & Corsets 

Proper Form 

Quilted Compositions 

The Language of Folk Dress 

Fashion Statements 





[1] Carolyn Dowdell, “The Fruits of Nimble Fingers: Garment Construction and the Working Lives of Eighteenth-Century English Needlewomen” (master’s thesis, University of Alberta, 2010), 73.

[2] Beverly Lemire, Cotton (New York: Berg, 2011), 32.




Cite this page (bibliography):

Bissonnette, Anne, Larisa Cheladyn, Stephanie Huolt, Robyn Stobbs and Sarah Woodyard. “Stitched Narratives” Exhibitions, Clothing and Textiles Collection, Department of Human Ecology, University of Alberta Museums, April 9, 2015. [INSERT URL].


RELATED LINKS
Main exhibition page
Artifacts  
Human Ecology Gallery Views  


Text panels:

Stays & Corsets  
Proper Form  
Quilted Compositions  
The Language of Folk Dress  
Fashion Statements  



This exhibition is part of the graduate course "Material Culture & Curatorship" (HECOL 668).


Sponsorship provided by The Kule Institute for Advanced Study and The Bohdan Medwidsky Ukrainian Folklore Archives.


Contact

QUESTIONS & DONATIONS 
Dr. Anne Bissonnette, Curator 
325 Human Ecology
Phone: (780) 492-3604
Email
Academic Profile

RESEARCH APPOINTMENTS 
Vlada Blinova, Collections Manager 
103 Human Ecology 
Phone: (780) 492-2528 
Email
Academic Profile