Women's Jumps and Quilted Waistcoats in the Eighteenth-Century: Production, Consumption and Mediation
I am a historian of dress and textiles, with a particular emphasis on makers, making practices, and embodied experiences of dress. My dissertation research looks at eighteenth century quilted waistcoats, examining their production and consumption in the first dedicated study on these garments. The findings of this research provide a more nuanced understanding of quilted waistcoats and jumps in this period, as a garment which straddled the boundary between under- and outerwear, challenging our twenty-first century assumptions about how dress and dressing functioned in the past. This research not only deepens our understanding of dress in the eighteenth century, but also informs significant themes of research on this period, including ideas of privacy, comfort, health, and morality.
My research also makes use of innovative experimental history methodologies. I make use of practice-based reconstructions and experimental embodied wearing practices in order to provide an alternative means of accessing the unwritten, and often gendered, knowledge surrounding dress histories. This has included reconstructing a seventeenth century embroidery technique to better understand the labour and skill required for the making of a young girl’s embroidered box. This has been extended in my dissertation research during which I reconstructed an extant quilted waistcoat and then used the reconstructed garment to experimentally combine it with other eighteenth century garments.
I also have an ongoing personal research project which focuses on the history and use of historical drafting systems and sewing patterns. This project is practice focused, examining extant drafting systems and sewing patterns from the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries and using them to create patterns and garments from. This research has been shared with non-academic audiences through an online two-part lecture and workshop and will be published online in two articles on Foundations Revealed.