Liberty Prints at the London Museum of Fashion and Textiles


Liberty Artistic Dressing

London Fashion and Textile Museum Liberty Exhibition 2016

There are not many chaps out there who are willing to encourage a fabric obsessive like me but the lovely Mr D asked me if I wanted to visit the Museum of Fashion and Textiles  as he had noticed there was a Liberty exhibition! I leaped at the opportunity! We headed off by train early on a chilly Saturday morning, after a short pleasant journey,   I found myself stepping through the glass doors and bright interior –  a world of Textiles  -Heaven on earth!


The exhibition was organised chronologically: this display of kimonos dates from the early years of Liberty around 1870. The exquisite hand embroidery was simply, divine. The butterflies and iris adorn exquisite silk kimonos and you can see in the bottom left an example of wallpaper that inspired  the kimono decoration.

I was thrilled to be able to get up close to the exhibits eager to feast my eyes on construction,  finishing and techniques used. I am fascinated by design details – and spent a great deal of time noting and photographing in order to create a reference at home. Having recently taken up hand embroidery it was inspiring to see it utilised in high end fashion it tends to go in cycles. The two items above were  examples of the dress reform movement. Women wanted clothing that was more practical, the late Victorian period where the S curve was in Vogue this was revolutionary! The dress on the right had exquisite pleating that simply followed the curves beautifully – a good 60 years before the 1930’s bias cut.

I spent a great deal if time taking in the wonderful construction details of the 1930’s to 1940’s stand. I particularly enjoyed the way the red flower dress was thoughtfully made. The neckline is trimmed with appliquéd flowers, the sleeve cap is full typical of the 1940s and has a lovely velvet ribbon detail running down the centre finished with a little bow. The velvet ribbon detail is repeated at the front placket, and the overall placement of the red/pink flowers is skilfully done.

The 1970’s saw a revival in ‘folk’ costume especially the use of smocking. The whole of the seventies section brought back memories of warm summers wearing gypsy skirts! I the brown  dress,  fabric is entirely shaped using this technique it allows so much movement that you can put the clothing on without the need for zips or darts! The wedding dress reminded me of the 1980s.

Art Nouveau had a revival in the 1960s prompting the use of more romantic folk styles classical empire lines, Victorian Butcher sleeves – updated with modern prints and fabrics. The wonderful detail of the corduroy dress yoke was a delight to my eye!

There were lots of displays of the patterns used and I did not realise Kate Greenaway had designed for Liberty (centre)


It was a wonderful exhibition – I took a lot more pictures that I shall use for reference there were so many examples of different construction techniques and embellishment ideas that I am still buzzing days later. I can’t wait to include them in my sewing.

The Museum of Fashion is just a short walk from London Bridge Station it is a real treat for any lover of textiles or fashion.

Famous Quotations about Fashion and Style

do it yourself fashion

Such great advice – if you can make your own clothes then you have an unlimited choice of clothing. Not just in the style, but the fabric the way it is cut defines the way it hangs – there are endless ways to play.

Fashion quote Coco Chanel

Who can question the enduring wardrobe staple – the little black dress?

Good clothing will last years and classic style is never out of date.

fashion suggests

You wouldn’t think that from some of his clothes, but I like this quotation.

Vionnet fashion

One of my favourite designers, Vionnet was the Queen of the bias cut dress – fabric flows around the body, enhancing every curve. Cut a pair of trousers on the bias, and they will cling to your feminine curves – even those you never knew you had.

This quote says a lot about style – you should be the one to wear the clothes not the other way around. That is why I am not a fan of designer labels – I always ask myself why a piece of clothing has to have the design logo on the outside? For example GAP stands for gay and proud. When you wear a designer label you are buying into a whole lot of advertising spin – great for those who want to blend in, but if you want to stand out, then be your own label.

wear a smile

I do wish we would see more happiness on catwalks, a smile brightens every outfit, it doesn’t matter what you are wearing – people remember you look happy!

Oscar wilde love yourself

This line from An Ideal Husband is wonderful – the sheer arrogance of this first line! But be honest, we have all had those ‘what was she thinking’ moments. But if we can suspend judgement for just a moment and cheer that woman on – then something unlocks inside us. Fashion Police don’t exist, we can all wear what we want, and if she can, then so can we Isn’t that better?

We shy away from self love for fear of being called arrogant, but no matter what a woman wears – if she is loves who she is it, that confidence shines out often recognised as charisma- any outfit she will be wearing will come second.

be a work of art

Another Oscar Wilde quotation – it is so easy to fall into the trap of not spending time on ourselves – we are fearful of being vain. But caring about what you wear and looking after yourself are acts of self love not selfishness. Treat yourself as a work of art, love and cherish who you are.

Joan Crawford fashion

Joan has summed up the key to finding your own style. I think this is the favourite of all quotations – I particularly like ‘playing many roles’

We are so many things to different people, mother, daughter, colleague, manager. That doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun – dress up, dress down, try a different hairstyle, wear a hat. Life is all about making the most out of every moment – let your clothes reflect who you are. If its jeans and a t’shirt or a ball gown and tiara – then that is great – wear it and never apologise for being you.


1930’s Glamour Hollywood Style

Glamour 1930's style

If I had to choose a particular era it would have to be 1930’s. Maybe it is all the wonderful Poirot TV series I have enjoyed over the years where I have learned to love the simplicity of the Art Deco style combined with the beauty of bias cut fashions. Dresses flowed – Vionnet had brought bias cutting into the hands of dressmakers and it lets cloth flow around the body like nothing ever seen before or since.

1930's Hollywood inspired patterns

Women wanted to wear the fashions they saw in the hollywood movies and pattern makers  used hollywood actresses on their patterns. Just look at the fabulous detail of the bodice, with the beautiful corner detail on the back. The bias cut skirt would have followed every contour, so you might have to be rather slim to carry this off.

1930's velvet gown

This beautiful velvet gown shows the enduring feature of 1930’s style, the diamond waist piece. This might not be cut on the bias, the grain line would have most likely run vertically from the top point to the bottom and would have given structure that allows the bias cut pieces of the bodice some element of stability.

1930's dress pattern

In this pattern illustration highlights just how the fabric clings and follows the contours of the body. The side panels at the hips are the diamond shapes that would be running in the opposite direction to the skirt pieces. The bodice looks as if it is cut on the straight of grain, whereas the feminine sleeve would have been semi circular in shape to give those softly floating ripples.

Bathing costumes 1930's

The bathing suits were far kinder to the body than the two piece costumes of today. This style would enhance any woman’s figure, the use of stripes creates an illusion of drawing the figure in – a slimming effect.

pjs 1930s

Imagine how glamours you would feel wearing these pjs around the house? Usually in satin or silk, the fabric would brush softly against your skin. Definitely one up on the Onesie for style.

tea dresses 1930s

Imagine living in a world where you dressed up for tea – these beautiful tea dresses have clean lines but the pattern allows extra fabric in the panels gathered together so as not to interrupt the style, but would have allowed the dress fabric to flow as the woman walked. Notice the top of the sleeves are fairly well fitting, it is not until the 1940’s or late 30’s we see a gathered cap.

1930's style

The beautiful details in this dress are simply delightful – there is so much going on here and yet the lines are simple and would enhance the wearer. I would suggest this is a late 1930’s early 1940’s because of the gathering at the sleeve cap. However the front panel with the pleating is an aspect of the 1930’s. Notice how the smocking has given a lot more ease in the bust area, while the centre panel accentuates the waist.

Simplistic style of 1930's

We are back again to flat sleeve, and the length of this skirt suggests its 1930’s. I like the sailor style collar with the feminine bow. The top is nipped in and enhances the waistline and I adore the button details on the hip.

day dress

I could not help adding this beautiful dress – the way the buttoning flows from one side to the other really does delight my eye.

Bias cutting is not for the faint hearted, it is challenging. Looking at the styles and patterns from the past, I think women must have had superior sewing skills because none of the patterns you buy today have that degree of complexity. However, I am inspired to try.