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I really enjoyed my workshop at this years Feminism in London (FIL) Conference. Over 25 people attended and made a great audience for my introductory talk and the (all too brief) sewing session that followed

The overall schedule is here.

Screen Shot 2014-10-26 at 15.31.38Suffrage, cycling and sewing; a story telling and making workshop about Victorian women’s cycle wear

 The Victorians enthusiastically took to the newest modern technology – the bicycle. Yet for women there were many social, physical and ideological challenges to their freedom. Their everyday clothing was vastly unsuitable and cycle wear did not exist. They had to make it themselves!

Kat Jungnickel will talk about (and demonstrate) her ‘Bikes & Bloomers’ research project. For the past year she has been making Victorian‘convertible’ cycle wear patented by Victorian women that transformed from the ordinary (everyday street wear) to the extra-ordinary (clothing that enabled the wearer to move in new ways).

The workshop interweaves storytelling and performance with the making of (small scale) garments from paper and scrap material. Participants will draw on 130 year old patents lodged by inventive Victorian women and follow their instructions to re-make costumes that imaginatively took up the “dress problem” for newly mobile women. We’ll discuss, while making mess, how and in what ways these inventions helped carve out new forms of mobile gendered citizenship.


For this talk I wore the Pease sisters cape/ skirt cycle costume. No photos sadly as I was too busy talking, demonstrating and taking pictures of everyone else.

It was a great costume – I cycled to the event and it performed exactly as it was designed. But then again, I am a fan of the cycling bloomer.

I talked for about 30mins (or was it longer!) about some of the histories of cycle wear; the dress reform movement, suffragette activity and gendered forms of citizenship.

We then started to do things. I had brought along a range of materials  – all of the practice garments Rachel and I made while trying to figure out the carefully concealed engineered garments described in each of the convertible cycling costume patents plus a whole lot of paper and tape,  fabric and (hand)sewing equipment as well as at least 50 printed copies of  different late nineteenth century  patents for cycling costumes and accessories.

Participants were given the choice to either:

– get into the research by trying things on and seeing how thse convertible garments worked on the body,

– read through some of the amazing patents of the period,  follow the inventors detailed instructions and see what they could prototype in paper or fabric

– or make a Victorian pocket, similar to those we made for the bloomer making workshop earlier this year.

Need less to say there was a lot of activity, messy making and chatting.

Thankyou to everyone involved for your energy, ethusiasim and welcome for the project. It was a great afternoon!

2014-10-25 13.00.03

I managed to transport all of the materials by bike with my trusty BOB (Beast of Burden) bike trailer to the conference

room setup The tidy setup before the workshop


making pocketsmaking pockets 2

looking at cape
makers3threadingskirt2close-up making



This Post Has One Comment

  1. This looks like an amazing workshop! I love the idea of picking a material object that tells us something about the way gender was constructed and thought about at a particular time, then physically working through it by sewing/trying on the clothing! It also says interesting things about intellectual property regimes and what could be patented or not–are these kinds of engineered garments technical “inventions” (patentable) or are they “everyday items” (usually not patentable)?

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