Archives 4/8- 4/14 2005-2010

beetledress[My sincerest apologies for failing to credit the person who sent me the link to this story, I misplaced the email.] Kind benefactor sent news of the restoration of a beetle wing gown worn by Ellen Terry who played Lady Macbeth in 1888.  Restoration of the gown took five years and wings of 1,000 beetles. Predictably, the beetles intrigued me most (and in case you fret as I did, the jewel beetle wings are shed naturally). Says the Guardian:

The repairs proved as much costume archaeology as needlework. The dress arrived at the Brighton studio of specialist textile conservator Zenzie Tinker with a box of tattered pieces. She soon realised that she was dealing with the remains of two near identical costumes, presumably patched together when both were too badly damaged to wear. She has carefully removed the later additions, restoring the original Victorian appearance of the gown. Hundreds of broken beetle wings were repaired by gluing green-dyed Japanese tissue paper on to the reverse, and stitching them back into place.

One can only admire the dexterity and infinite patience required to do work such as this. The Guardian story mentions the dress is once again displayed but makes no mention of where that might be other than presumably in the UK. Send word if by chance you see it. Related: a discussion of beetle wing embroidery.

Eye candy preamble dispensed with, here’s the entries published on this site over the past six years for this week. There’s also 2,000+ in the archives. And I hope your weekend isn’t as taxing as taxes! Mr. F-I is not given to bellowing as my father was but I fear sufficiently to hide in the garden whilst the deed is done.

April 8, through April 14, 2005
PR firm sues DE
Me and my blog
Vintage pattern post #5
Dallas Fashion Incubator

April 8, through April 14, 2006
Fulfillment centers pt.1
Archaic anthropometry
Line sheet cover letters
Air-bag motorcycle jackets
Conphorm’s pattern puzzle
Self-reporting one’s size
How to be creative
A question of thoracic shaping
Fulfillment centers pt.2

April 8, through April 14, 2007
100 mile clothing
Is fast fashion sustainable?
Next Week in L.A.
Emerging Textiles
News from you 4/11/07

April 8, through April 14, 2008
It all starts here 9
Why 5% shrinkage is fatal to a start up clothing line
California Garment License for Out of State Companies
Niche: plush toys

April 8, through April 14, 2009
What we expect from designers pt.2
Your first meeting with a pattern maker
Pop Quiz #483
A great PR pitch
Pop quiz #483 pt.2

April 8, through April 14, 2010
Fashion internships
Metric Pattern Cutting for Children’s Wear and Babywear
The vending machine survey
The vending machine survey pt.2


  1. Lesley says:

    I saw that article earlier in the week (I’ve been following along on Cathy Hay’s Hope to haiti Peacock dress challenge – – and she’s going to be using the same beetle wings in her embroidery on the feathers)
    That restoration work is amazing! Such patience.
    I’m thinking I might have to get my hands on some of those wings to try them out myself…

  2. kay says:

    “The emerald and sea green gown – worn by Ellen Terry when she played Lady Macbeth at London’s Lyceum Theatre in 1888 – will now go on display in Smallhythe Place, Kent.”

    I gave some links for more stories and some really nice photos, but they seem to be rejected as spam… I’m going to try to trim (that’s Terry’s home, now a National Trust property.)

    Sargent’s painting, the basis for the display pose:

    More on the history of the dress:

  3. Victoria Ranua says:

    Thanks for sharing Kathleen. While I am not into painstaking labor to create a single garment that can’t be worn functionally… I really liked this article. As a naturalist, I am always seeing the wonder patterns in the natural world around me and saying “I’d love a skirt like that” “That would make a great pair of pants”. Another thing, I always admire how nature makes these wonder patterns, these brillant colors, without creating something that spoils the world… in this case, they did not need a green metallic fabric that is readily available on the market: there were no metals to extract out of the earth [and all the associated problems with mining] nor was their a need for some toxic green dye.

  4. Amber Golombek says:

    I read this particular article which intrigued me. As a fashion enthusiast, I pay my highest respect to a person who can mend such a timeless Victorian dress. A dress that encapsulates that period and era, one that resembles a Lady Macbeth. I am astounded that such a dated dress from 1888 can still be reparied and restored, especially one that requires time consuming work. This just proves the incredible work of Zenzie Tinker and the committment one must make to restore fashion and bring it back to life.

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