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New images for One Hundred Years Collection

by Margaret Woodliff | March 18, 2015 | 0 Comments

Just received some new images from the Hat Museum, Stockport,of The One Hundred Year Collection and thought I would share them with you!

Seen below is The Songman's Fedora.

The Songman's Fedora


The One Hundred Year Collection is the second couture millinery collection I have made for Making Headway, an inspirational project led by Bronwen Simpson & her team at the Stockport Museums Collections, supported by funding from the Arts Council & the Mary Portas High Street initiative.

The second image shows Dolly Gray's cloche.


This latest collection for Making Headway is a selling collection and can seen seen at The Hat Museum, Stockport, where the five piece collection are showcased. Below is a modern interpretation of a Victorian sweetheart pincushion. 

Finally - Loves Me (Not?)


The collection received its launch preview in late November. I am delighted by the latest photographs taken by Gareth Lowe, just received.

Images courtesy of Stockport Council, © Gareth Lowe

Posted in Arts Council Funding, Bronwen Simpson, Making Headway, Mary Portas High Street initiative, One Hundred Years Collection, Second Couture Millinery Collection, Stockport Council, Stockport Museum Collections, WW1 memorabilia;, WW1 Sweetheart Pincushions

One Hundred Years - design inspirations

by Margaret Woodliff | November 09, 2014 | 0 Comments

Sweetheart Pincushions 

Tradition relates that Queen Victoria felt homesick infantry posted abroad should be kept busy. So starting in India in the early C20th, trunks filled lace, beads etc. were shipped out to them. They added regimental identification. The practice continued through WWI. Soldiers would scavenge for needles and thread to embellish feed sacks. Later pillows were manufactured and could be bought as souvenirs. The cushion above is one of two held by The Stockport Museums Collections.

History of Sweetheart Pincushions Extracted from The Vault - Slate's history blog

Pincushions made by British soldiers during WWI were sent home to wives, sweethearts, and mothers. Queen Victoria, a keen practitioner of textile arts, thought that soldiers might find quilting or needlepoint a great distraction whilst far from home.

Some British soldiers stationed in India made quilts, and sailors in the Navy often extended their sail-making efforts to recreational needlework In WWI. Soldiers often took up needlepoint as a way to pass the time while recuperating from war wounds, or used it as a form of occupational therapy. These cushions are decorated with beads, sequins, pieces of mirror, felt, and pre-printed panels memorialising soldiers’ regiments.

Research by the Imperial War Museum says that some such pillows were made out of commercially sold kits, that other examples were sewn using feed sacks and rummaged thread. Examples in the UK can be found at various museums, including The Imperial War Museum, Beamish, Living Museum of the North, where there is a significant collection, Tyne & Wear, and within the Stockport Museums collections.


One Hundred Years - couture millinery collection

So this where my collection “One Hundred Years” started with WW1 memorabilia; including the inspiration of the sweetheart pincushions particularly the vintage colours of soft rose, blue & deep ivory characteristic of the pieces held at the Stockport Museums. Along with the awe inspiring and overwhelming installation at The Tower of London – Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red; the musical production of Warhorse – where I have focused on two characters The Songman, the fedora wearing narrator, who using his sung commentary guides us through the unfolding events of WW1 and its affects on a small community mirroring that of the nation’s experiences; and finally of one of Songman’s characters – Dolly Gray. All these strands have all contributed to inspire my collection.

Above is a page from my sketchbook, with my design inspiration for the collection beginning to take shape. In my next post are images of my latest collection.





Posted in Arts Council Funding, Beamish Living Museum of the North, Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red; Musical Production of Warhorse, Couture millinery, Imperial War Museum, Making Headway, Mary Portas High Street initiative, Occupational Therapy, One Hundred Years, Queen Victoria, Second Couture Millinery Collection, Sketchbook, Stockport Museum Collections, Textile arts, Tower of London, WW1, WW1 memorabilia;, WW1 Sweetheart Pincushions

Making Headway - second collection makes headlines!

by Margaret Woodliff | November 09, 2014 | 0 Comments




Second collection for Making Headway gets advanced press coverage in Northumberland!

As you may know Making Headway is a project based at the National Hat Museum (situated a short train ride from Manchester) at Stockport, in which I am currently involved. The project aims are to create and launch two contemporary millinery collections - thirteen new milliners were selected to create the collection, by an open international selection process. The inspiration for these two collections is to be derived from Stockport itself, history, museums and their collections, & hatting history; and through this process the aim is to enhance the public awareness of Stockport itself. 

Despite being based in Northumberland I have been regularly visiting Stockport to progress the project, looking at items held both in the museums and kindly taken out of the "stores" by Bronwen Simpson and her team for us to look at. Of particular interest to me was a selection of WW1 memorabilia, that Bronwen bought out of the stores, and more particularly WW1 sweetheart pincushions. This memorabilia was the source of inspiration for my second collection entitled "One Hundred Years". A collection of five pieces, it was despatched to Stockport last Monday in preparation for the Press Launch on November 20th at the Hat Museum.

As the second collection was nearing completion I contacted James Willoughby, a journalist at the Northumberland Gazette, who had already tracked my journey through an HNC in Couture Millinery at Leeds College of Art and indeed my first collection, in his initial article about Making Headway, for the Northumberland Gazette, on May 8th. James very kindly ran another article on October 30th, featuring my new collection and its inspiration - memorabilia of the First World War period.

I am also delighted to say that the day before the collection was sent to Stockport I was able to show it the bustling wedding fair held by DawnMarie Wedding & Event Design at Doxford Hall on November 2nd. I was overwhelmed by the very positive reaction it received. Many looking at the collection came especially to see it before it was couriered to the Hat Museum - they already knew about it from the article in the Gazette so were keen to see the individual designs for themselves. 

My next blog post will give more details of the inspiration and the design process, and images of the collection itself. In the meantime here is an image of a sweet heart pincushion made by a member of the Northumberland Fusiliers.

Posted in Arts Council Funding, Bronwen Simpson, Couture millinery, Creative Professional Development, DawnMarie Wedding & Event Design;, Designer showcase - Margaret Woodliff Wright, Doxford Hall Wedding Fair, HNC Couture Millinery, James Willoughby, Making Headway, Mary Portas High Street initiative, Northumberland Gazette, Northunberland Fusiliers, One Hundred Years, Second Couture Millinery Collection, Stockport Council, WW1, WW1 memorabilia;, WW1 Sweetheart Pincushions