Sunday, May 3, 2015

"O, the month of May, the merry month of May...

So frolic, so gay, and so green, so green, so green!
 ~Thomas Dekker
The merry month of May...there is something so dramatic about May especially for those of us who live in the northern climate areas.  I always think of ribbons in May because of the maypole.
That dance consists of pairs of boys or girls who stand around the base of the pole, each holding the end of a ribbon.  They weave in and around each other, boys going one way and girls the other until the ribbons are woven around the pole.

I am a fan of ribbons, and I have brought a small selection into the shop.  I am going to be carrying more including Midori silks.  I am sure in England today pink ribbons are waving since a new princess was born, and England is where the modern history of the ribbon begins.  
During the Middle Ages, merchants traveled across Europe selling exotic silk ribbons and expensive fabrics from the East.  Geoffrey Chaucer talks about "ribbands" in The Canterbury Tales from 1475; he describes a young maiden with a "bonnet deck'd with ribbands high.

By the 1500s, ribbons were made with finished edges, and they became a sign of nobility and luxury and were only worn by the elite.  
Some ribbons from the shop!

The gown pictured above is from Spain, 1780, and is taffeta, linen, silk with Chinese polychrome floral decoration. The neckline and front are decorated with bobbin lace shirred linen in a color alternating with shirred chiffon ribbons. The entire body, front and back is lined in pale green silk taffeta and open at the back seam that closes with three silk ribbons on each side.

In the 1800s, ribbons took over the fashion world and were readily available for the common folks in England.  This was a period where women’s clothing and accessories were overly decorated with ribbons.
Not only that, a length of ribbon could be given as a gift, used for braiding hair, decorating baskets and furniture, or for embellishing linens.  I still think a gift becomes so special when tied with a beautiful piece of ribbon.
As the demand rose, the manufacturers designed more accessories based on the ribbon styles...braids, cords, and fringes.  After World War II, the quality ribbons were not as plentiful.  Vintage ribbons are a real find, and many times vintage grosgrains are seen because they were woven from cotton and silk or cotton and rayon and were quite durable.  Traditonally, they were used on ladies bonnets and other millinery.  I have reels of vintage seam binding which easily doubles as a wonderful rayon ribbon.  I also have a variety of sari silk ribbons made from vintage Indian saris that are no longer wearable.
So, if you need a touch of ribbon or want to create your own little maypole, we can tie that up for you!
Each day comes bearing its own gifts.  Untie the ribbons."  
  ~Ruth Ann Schabacker

1 comment:

Guernsey Girl said...

Thanks for this post from someone who lives in England and loves vintage ribbons!