23 September 2020

Musée de l'Impression sur étoffes or The museum of printing on fabric.



Visiting the museum of fabric printing in Mulhouse in eastern France, the first pleasure comes from your ticket.   

Fittingly for a museum about fabric, the ticket is just that...fabric.

Explanatory case notes (handily written in English and German in case your français est un peu rouillé) provide clear easy to follow notes on history and techniques. 

They explain that textile printing uses the same techniques as dying cloth. Before the textile is put into the dying vat, the mordant is applied using a wooden board. This permits the colour to penetrate the fabric, thus revealing the pattern.

I was drawn to the reconstruction of a paletot ( a close fitting jacket worn by women 19th century). This was a digital print on cotton canvas from pattern "4157", originally patented in 1865.

Sample vials of colours 19thc.

By the 18th century the European textile trade was so important that legislation was introduced to safeguard the origin of the fabric produced. Designs of printed fabrics had to be countermarked; amongst the details were the name of the manufacturer and the date of printing. These marks served as advertising at the time and now constitute a valuable archive resource.

This display of countermarked fabrics includes examples from Switzerland,Germany, France and of course Mulhouse itself.

Some more modern fabric designs.

A furnishing sample 'Lily of the Valley'

English. c1900

A furnishing sample 'Poppies in a vase' 

French or English 1930s

The processes of printing are here as well...old and new. 

This is a STORK ink printer c1980s. 
Designed specifically to print textiles.

These are the staff from the Schaeffer & Co textile factory on the outskirts of Mulhouse c 1880.

As well as colours and designs and equipment, the museum has some good examples of printed fabrics made up into clothing.

This caraco 
from Alsace (?) c1800 is in a print called 'Bonnes Herbes'. A caraco translates as a camisole in English. The term can refer to a longer woman's jacket, but is used here for something I would call a spencer.


This beautiful gown was produced in 1992, using an English fabric design. The maker was a school pupil at a school in Strasbourg for their 'clothing and creation technician' assignment.

This is the delightful looking tearoom in the museum. Sadly closed due to Covid restrictions. Of course the tablecloths were lovely....I may be glimpsed in the bottom left hand corner ....complete with chic mask....

Well worth a visit.


Musée de l'impression sur Etoffes
14 rue Jean-Jacques Henner
68100 Mulhouse France

28 August 2020

A Miscellany of Styles and Setups.

A Miscellany of Styles and Setups

Photographs from the Henfield Museum costume collection

Often the best way to find interesting photographs is not to look for them....I came across a folder on my small laptop (goes to study days and the like with me) of assorted costumes and past exhibitions at Henfield Museum. The pictures are a mixture of completed cases, garments being readied for show and quick 'lets see what we have here' shots I take for reference. Nothing loath I hereby present a quick look through a mixed bag of bits and pieces. Hope you enjoy them.



A collection of bodices. c1850s/1860s

 A lovely 1860s skirt in bronze satin, with a photograph of the box it came to the museum in (and all the bodices were in there too)

Two Victorian bodices. The écru one has replacement laces and sweatguards from 'J Alder' Croydon.

The purple and black silk is fragile but still lovely. Unusually the museum has the skirts that go with these bodices. Both pieces show much in the way of alterations. I am of the opinion that they came to the museum via amateur dramatics, of which Henfield has a long tradition.

A pair of c1890 Victorian drawers. Made by Ada Tobitt from Henfield for her (unworn) trousseau.


The Ladies Emporium case and its proud creator. 2017

A Detail of The Ladies Emporium. Hat brushes, knicker elastic, name tapes, gloves, shoes, cottons and lace...

A beautiful wedding gown from 1902. The family history we have for this dress tells of no happy ending to the tale...

The 1902 dress in a display from 2015 shown with an exquisite 1930s gown and some wisps of wedding hankies.

A rather blurry 1920s beaded gown

Case display from 2019. 'Mononchrome'


And finally to the 1960s and two splendid sparkly outfits from Barrance and Ford, late of Brighton and Hastings in Sussex. Donated to the museum by a local family of long standing.

I hope you have enjoyed a look through these miscellaneous pieces from the Henfield Museum costume collection.

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14 February 2020


HENFIELD MUSEUM                   NEW DISPLAY  2020

                         UNTIL SPRING 2021

A new year and a new selection of costume and photographs from Henfield Museum.
This display salutes the 75th anniversary of  VE Day.
Victory in Europe Day marked the Allied victory in Europe in 1945.

Uniforms became a common sight on the home front during the second world war.
Henfield is fortunate to have some fine examples of  these uniforms in the collection.

Starting with a WVS (Womens Voluntary Services) dress, belt and hat from the 1940s.


This FANY  (First Aid Nursing Yeomanry) officers uniform was made for the wearer by
Olga Ashford in Bond Street. Her uniform hat was from Scott & Co of Old Bond Street.


 Still a uniform but with quite a different appearance to the preceding two, we have a Land Girl (WLA - WOMANS LAND ARMY) jacket and a pair of dungarees. Robust in heavy weight khaki, with removable buttons on clips on the jacket for ease of washing, the pieces are enhanced by contemporary photographs of land girls at work in the Henfield area in the 1940s.


The apron from a 1940s Red Cross nurse uniform sits near a blouse made from parachute silk and a pair of capacious cotton bloomers, lovingly detailed with coloured embroidery.

A very fine blue light wool dress takes centre stage. Resplendent with buttons, a decorated collar, trimmed sleeves, a side zip and pleats, it is a post war Utility dress, made as wool came off the ration and embellishments were again allowed on clothing.The belt is not original.

Not forgetting the chaps, we have a No2 uniform jacket from a Major in the Royal Pioneer Corps.


Photographs, a dress pattern, the Parish magazine from June 1945, ration books, ID cards and a Naval housewife (sewing kit) fill the bottom of the case.

This exhibition runs until Spring 2021.
If you can, please come and see the display.
Henfield Museum has many many interesting things to discover.
Post code for sat nav  BN5 9DB

Stephanie Richards Curator of Costume.

Grateful thanks to Mike Ainscough for use of his photographs.