Garters

Garter. Banish that elasticized cheap lace piece of bridal tawdry from your brain.

These are akin to the ones I made in white and red 10 years ago. From A Fractured Fairytale Blog. There’s a reason they call it garter stitch!

Prior to tights, pantyhose, spandex, and even garter belts (which bear no resemblance to their namesake), stockings needed to be held up by ties around your leg. Garters could be a utilitarian length of worsted tape, or they could be silk ribbons, richly worked in embroidery with pithy, ribald slogans. Beyond its functional purpose, the intricacy of a garter could be a delight enjoyed by a privleged few.

I replicated a knitted pair from an 1860s pattern once. A narrow strip of six rows purl, six rows knit, a loop was located on one end, and a tassel on another. The tassel went through the loop around the lady’s leg, and dangled there. Tell me that’s not wonderful.

Garters. France, 18th century. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. 38.1390a, b. I used this design to play around with tambour work.

Garters. France, 18th century. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. 38.1390a, b. I used this design to play around with tambour work.

Gorgeous sprang work silk and metal garters. Italian 1575-1600. MFA Boston. 43.2011a, b.

Gorgeous sprang work silk and metal garters. Italian 1575-1600. MFA Boston. 43.2011a, b.

Beaded garters! Glass beads, silk ribbon, and metal lace. French, 18th century. MFA Boston, 43.2333a, b

Beaded garters! Glass beads, silk ribbon, and metal lace. French, 18th century. MFA Boston, 43.2333a, b

 

 

About Becky Fifield

Becky Fifield is a cultural heritage professional with 25 years experience in institutions large and small. She is currently Head of Collection Management for the Special Collections of the New York Public Library. An advocate for preventive conservation, Ms. Fifield is a Professional Associate of the American Institute for Conservation, Chair of the AIC Collection Care Network, and former Chair of Alliance for Response NYC. She is also a scholar of 18th century female unfree labor and dress. There's a bit of pun in the title The Still Room, delineating a quiet space brimming with the ingredients of memory, where consideration, analysis, and wordcraft can take place. Ms. Fifield’s interests include museum practice, dress history, historic preservation, transit, social and women’s history, food, current events, geneaology, roadtrips, and considerations on general sense of place. Becky and her husband, Dr. V, live in the Hudson Valley.