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Software techie and professional seamstress.

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Thursday, April 9, 2015

A day with friends

I spent most of the day with the wonderful Rachel Kurland. We met at the Victoria & Albert Clothworkers' Centre in West London.
Even the building was cool. An old postal center office, it is now filled with treasures from various museums across London, and security is TIGHT.

The first room we went into holds over 10,000 items--all clothing and accessories. Rachel is a curator at her local museum, so she asked to see some of the storage facilities.
Larger dresses

Lockers containing racks of clothing

Drawers for a few really special garments...

Rachel with Sara, one of the docents
When the docent opened this drawer, I am sure we both gasped. This is a gorgeous beaded gown made by Hartnell for one of Queen Elizabeth's visit to France. I can't post detailed photos on this blog, but I can give a link to the dress on the V&A site:

Rachel asked what was in the next drawer, and we were treated to an Elsa Schiaparelli gown and cape. This one:

toilet stalls have become vaults

Sara also showed us storage for hats, fans and shoes, and then we headed back to the main room where the gowns Rachel had requested were played out on tables waiting for us.

This was such an amazing experience, and I really hope to do it again. We looked at 4 gowns in the morning (we didn't get to one because we took so long looking at the others)

Does Rachel look happy? You bet she does!

Rachel's husband David met us, and we headed out for lunch and found a nice Persian restaurant. I really don't think this needs any explanation:

 After lunch, Rachel and I got pretty lost trying to get back to the center, but finally made it back and spent a couple more hours looking at amazing garments, these from the early 20th century, then finished off the day looking through the cabinet of mounted fabric pieces-- we saw embroidered silk from China and Turkey (1800's), printed cotton from the 1920's, even a piece from 1600.
I'll look through the photos later and describe what we saw, but due to copyright issues, I cannot post them here. (But I can show you when I see you, so please ask!) David joined us again, and we headed toward Waterloo/Lower Marsh to visit I Knit London. I found another skein of tasty sock yarn, and Rachel round a lace scarf pattern from the shop owner that she like (Ravelry, yea!)

We had dinner at a kebab place near the Old Vic, then headed back over the bridge so Rachel and David could make the 7:30 show for Oppenheimer. I headed back to the flat to rest my feet, post here and plan my day for tomorrow. I'm thinking: Tower of London, St. Paul's, London Museum, fish and chips for lunch, then over to Kensington Palace, some fabric shopping in South Kensington, south of the Thames to drop off some tea pot covers and get some tea and cake, then back to Kensington to spend the evening at the V&A (or as David calls it, Vickie & Al's)
More photos tomorrow!


  1. Great post! I hope your journey continues to bring this much fun.