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smoking cyclist

The first Show & Tell event for the ESRC funded Transmissions and Entanglements research project featuring our work-in-progress on ‘Freedom of Movement; the bike, the bloomer and female cyclist in late C19th Britain’ was on Friday 29th.

It was a small event designed to showcase some of the mess, mistakes and materials we have been making. (There will be more, bigger and public events next year.) This one was held in the shared open space on the 7th floor, Warmington Tower, in the Sociology Dept. It meant we could simply and easily drag lots of things from our office, including a few heavy vintage sewing machines.

The event offered a chance to tell stories, see which objects found purchase with different viewers and take a moment to stop and see where we are in the project – in a casual setting over a few drinks. The last few months have been particularly busy (and productive) with sewing, meetings, talks and travels. 

Both Rachel and wore our 1890s bloomers.

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Several of the MA Fashion students turned up in their bloomers from the workshop that we ran earlier in the week. All of them had interpreted the pattern in their own way – making their version of bloomers longer or more narrow, with buttoned or velcro cuffs and in a fantastic range of  fabrics (from kimono silk and felt to tweed and jersey) to produce really visually arresting garments. Who wouldn’t want a pair of bloomers in their wardrobe today?

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It was great to have people there from sociology, design, art, theatre and fashion.

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We initially displayed one of our first garments – The Alice Louisa Bygrave cycling dress – on a dressmaking mannequin but ……

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….  the skirt in particular is difficult to understand off the body. It doesn’t fully transform without a firm waistband in place to anchor the pulley system. Much to the delight of everyone there, Michael Guggenheim kindly offered to demonstrate.

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The skirt fitted him well and, as many noted, even complemented his shirt!

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Rachel and I ended up both cycling home in our bloomers (in different shoes!) and found them incredibly comfortable, easy to cycling in and warm! I’ve a feeling bloomers might just become part of my everyday wardrobe after the project.

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