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Edith and Rose are the names of my Grandmothers. Somehow the years caught up on me and I now seem to be a Grandma too. So Edith and Rose seemed like a good nom-de-plume for a blog, and shop, dedicated to Children's Vintage and Fashion. Although sometimes we digress! Whilst you're here, why not have a look around our little online Children's Vintage shop (when living in Cumbria you have to be online to get around).
Did you know that romper suits originated in France in the 1920’s ? They were the first true play suit and gradually took over from the old habit of putting little boys in dresses. Old pictures seem to show boys who wore rompers also had short hair (not the long curls of the boys who wore dresses), so it seems like it was the more fashionable and wealthier mothers who moved over to the new style. One theory is that they evolved after rubber pants became available – making the enclosed bottoms easier to deal with!
The French word for them is barboter which means playing in the water, possibly they were considered appropriate for paddling. They were only for preschool children and were often considered outfits for ‘best’. Boys and girls often wore identical romper suits – so although we have lasted ours as boys wear feel free to dress your little girl in them! They are traditionally a one or two piece suit with the pants joined to the top with buttons.
Have a closer look at our exclusive range of rompers - mostly from the 1950's by clicking on the images above
Type in the words dress and coat set into google and you come up almost exclusively with wedding outfits, often royal wedding outfits!. It seems they have never gone out of fashion as the epitomy of style for a formal occasion.
One of the great pleasures at Edith and Rose is buying pretty outfits, what woman can resist it!
We've collected together a few little sets that we think would be perfect for a little one for a 'bit of a do'
We were so pleased to find this little set and its pink sister
next door. This one fits a 9 month to one year old
and this one is for an 18 month to 2 year old
Click on the pictures to see more details
All in blue, stupendous little dimpled crimplene set on the left
for a 2 to 3 year old
and a mini dress and coat above for a 12-18 month old
We adore Jules Oliver's Little Bird range, we are addicted to ditsy floral blouses with Peter Pan collars - but what really took our eye in the new spring collection were these red sandals! Perfect for a vintage summer look!
We've been having a little look at the children's fashion in the Victorian and Edwardian eras and we were interested to discover that Victorian girls typically dressed in layers, a loose shift, stockings, drawers, stays! and two or more petticoats. We were quite alarmed at little ones wearing stays! but we can see that in winter all the undergarments kept them warm. Over all these these pieces, they would wear a dress and top it with a cloak or shawl. Wealthy families dressed their girls in miniature reproductions of adult clothes, with many decorative details, however, the skirts were usually short. Skirts and blouses for girls didn't come in until the 1900s.
The key colour for little ones was white, white, white!
As we said in our last blog boys traditionally wore dresses until about the age of 5 (to make it easier to change their nappies). The difference between boys and girls was that boys often had metal buttons instead of fabric covered buttons. But we suspect for large families where clothes were handed down that proably wasn't always the case... Older boys wore knickerbockers, shirts, coats and caps. The little Lord Fauntleroy look was reserved for the upper classes!
We think that nowadays a great vintage look can be achieved by mixing and matching the delicate fashions of the turn of the last century with modern accesories like leggings or jeans, giving a lovely contrast between the heavy and light weight fabrics
Our 1920's organza dress with raised polka dots - fabulous! (unfortunately this dress is now sold)
The start of the 20th century was a transitional time for children's fashion and kids started to have theri own fashion trends from sailor suits and rompers to full-pleated skirts. While these trends mimicked adult fashions, they were not direct copies of them. The most popular fabric used was cotton, which was used in a variety of weights and weaves, depending on which season the clothing was intended for. Delicate cotton or muslin was for summer. Cotton was very practical as it could withstand the aggressive laundering practices. Organza and silk were for best!
Why do we put girls in pink and boys in blue? For years and years all babies had worn white dresses which could easily be lifted to change nappies and could easily be bleached when they got dirty....In fact white for very small babies is still very popular today. Christening gowns for example are nearly always white. Pastel shades of baby clothes were introduced in the mid-19th century, but it may surprise you (it did me) that the colours were not gender specific at first.....
A Ladies' Home Journal article in the USA (June 1918) stated, "The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger colour, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl." Other sources said blue was flattering for blonds, pink for brunettes; or blue was for blue-eyed babies and pink for brown-eyed babies. Then in 1927, Time magazine printed a chart showing sex-appropriate colors for girls and boys according to leading U.S. stores. In Boston, Filene's told parents to dress boys in pink. So did Best & Co. in New York City, Halle's in Cleveland and Marshall Field in Chicago!
So when we say our Victorian Christening dress with its pink bodice inset must have been for a girl- we could be so wrong!
Then In the 1940s manufacturers settled on pink for girls and blue for boys, so Baby Boomers were raised with this in mind. In the liberated 60’s and 70’s more unisex baby clothes came into fashion, but the pink and blue theme never really went away!
Did you know that Crimplene was named after the Crimplene Valley in which the company was situated?
It was hugely popular in the 1950s because it was wash and wear – no ironing!
It was used extensively by designers because they found that the typical A line mini dress of the 1960’s needed a stiff fabric to keep its shape. It also had a highly textured surface which could be used to create quirky pieces. It fell out of fashion by the mid 1970’s, but it’s still an essential part of Vintage Mod style
And then of course fashion for kids came along and young mums dressed their girls in mini dresses and little combos made of - you've guessed it - Crimplene!! At Edith and Rose we've been lucky enough to get some 1970's little dresses and coats so you can replicate the look yourself
Sometimes called a Fisherman's Jumper, an Aran jumper was originally knitted on one of the Aran Islands off the west coast of Ireland. It's a bulky sweater, usually in cream colour and distinguished by it's complex textured stitch patterns. Originally they were knitted using unscoured wool that retained its natural oils (lanolin) which made the garments water-resistant and meant they remained wearable even when wet. It was usually the fisherman's wife that knit him the jumper and there is a long-standing tradition of jumper patterns having a regional or local identification. It is said that the county, or parish, or township of a sailor or a fisherman could be identified by his jumper pattern and the wearer's initials were traditionally knit into the bottom of the garment.
If you think having your children wear an Aran jumper is somehow uncool - the sight of the celebs below - looking stylish in cable knits should change your mind!
Keith Richards (ok - a lot younger)
The jumper usually features 4–6 patterns down the length of the jumper in columns. They are symmetrical and have a centre panel front and back and also down the sleeves. Some stitch patterns have a traditional interpretation, often of religious significance. The honeycomb is a symbol of the hard-working bee. The cable, an integral part of the fisherman's daily life, is said to be a wish for safety and good luck when fishing. The diamond is a wish of success, wealth and treasure. The basket stitch represents the fisherman's basket, a hope for a plentiful catch.
While in the past, the majority of jumpers and other Aran garments were knitted by hand, today the majority of items are machine knitted or hand loomed. Machine knitted Aran often uses finer wool and has less complex patterns whereas best quality hand-loomed sweaters are almost indistinguishable from hand knit. Hand-knit sweaters tend to be more tightly knit, to have more complex stitch patterns and to be longer-lasting and they attract a significant price premium. By holding them up to light, the difference between the machine knit and hand knit is evident.
Our little boy's Aran sweater is handknit - although it's in acrylic fibres, not as scratchy as traditional Aran wool and nicer for little ones to wear!
It features diamond, cable and sand stitches and is a valuable addition to any boys wardrobe!
We have realised, over the few months we've been trading, how much interest there is in smocked clothes for children in particular smocked dresses so here are a few facts we've picked up over the years. If you have more to add - do get in touch...
About Smocking and its origins
Smocking has been around since the middle ages was used to gather material so that it can stretch. It was commonly used on cuffs, bodices and necklines in garments where buttons would be a nuisance and was usually seen in work clothes. In fact the name derives from smock – a farmers work shirt. It became really popular in the 18th and 19th centuries.
English smocking is a series of traditional stitches over fabric which has been closely and evenly pre-pleated. There are two types of designs in English smocking, Geometric which can be lines, waves or diamonds or Stacked Cable which are designs formed by closely packed cable stitches. The unique sequence of smocking stitches creates an elasticity across the gathered area. Of course this was really useful in kids clothes when there wasn't the money about and dresses and rompers had to last longer. You can always tell a girl's 1950's smocked dress by the amount of elasticity in the chest and the size of the hem for letting down. It's no wonder there aren't so may around now as they all got worn out.
Direct smocking is when the fabric is drawn up and the stitches are applied simultaneously. This includes American, Counterchange, Italian smocking, and other forms which have a different look from traditional English Smocking. These techniques produce stunning effects but they have little or no elasticity.
True smocking stitches are done only by hand, but you can use a machine for the pleating
Trellis stitch, wave stitch and outline stitch, Our beautifulhand smocked seersucker party dress from 1950s - unfortunately this dress is now sold)
The Tootal baby dress - again from the 1950's features cable stitch and trellis stitch
For hand smocking either mark out the lines of dots using a ruler or the easier way is to use transfer paper and iron on the dots. The dots are then picked up by a needle in a row. A holding row needs to be created above and below the rows you are working to keep the pleats stable. The rows are usually set 1 cm apart unless very fine detail is required on very sheer fabrics. It’s best to use pre-waxed quilting thread as this will take a certain amount of friction and tension. Modern smocking often uses thread that contrasts with the fabric so that it can be easily seen. Then after the pattern has been smocked the back of the work is back-smocked in a thread which matches the fabric and the pleating threads are removed. In period smocking it was usual to use a thread colour that matched the fabric and this was left in. After pleating the work has to be shaped, if the pleated area is rectangular it’s a case of simply drawing up the threads and tying them to the next thread below it on each side of the work. Curved smocking is more complicated - lots of books on it if you are wanting to take it up – and you can buy smocking boards marked with lines to help to shape rounded neck lines.
All the books say that smocking stitches are really quite simple with a single motion being performed in slightly different ways to produce the patterns. The first thing to do is to locate the centre space between two pleats (the centre valley) Knot the thread and bring the needle up through the centre valley and keep the needle at right angle to the pleat as much a possible and keep an even depth of stitch – about a third of the way down the pleat – too deep equals puckering and too shallow will mean your stitches won’t stand out, there’s also the question of tension..... starting to sound less than simple.......You also have to work your way from left to right across the piece – starting from the centre and then turn the work upside down and start from the centre again and work from right to left – unless you are left handed – in which case do it the other way round......whew
Getting hold of smocked clothes
We found a good book on Amazon if you want to know more about creating smocked clothes yourself
But, if like us you just haven't got time - have a look at our authentic originals to buy - click on the links above the images
Well you can check out how long it take us up break these! We're starting off by cleaning up our website and taking off all our sold items. We are now restocking as fast as we can. We realise it's boring to keep seeing the same stock every week so keep looking and we'll herald our new arrivals on the front page.
We have so many ideas for Edith and Rose and No Time To Get Them Started. Sound familiar?
Expecting some lovely dress and coat sets in soon - and we have stock coming in from the USA which you'll find quite different from the usual...
Aim to get the blog up and running on a weekly basis again and update our site regularly....
We'd love to hear from you - anything you would like us to stock or any improvements we could make ...