Collar, women's, glass beads / linen, Maisie Jarratt / beads from Photios Brothers, Australia, 1950-1960
Maisie Jarratt has donated a collection of objects that explain, demistify and illustrate the specialist skills of French tambour beading and hand beading. Maisie has specialised in this medium all her life. As a dressmaker, she learnt beading at the age of 15 from a Madame Lorremo who came to Sydney from France in the 1920s. Maisie subsequently worked for Madame Pellier in the St James Building, George Street, Sydney, until she married. When she continued to work freelance in Sydney, her clients included Jenners in Pitt Street, Lucele at Wembley House, 841 George St, Beryl Jents and several boutiques in Double Bay. Maisie perfected this skill and subsequently taught many other embroiderers in Australia. She has published four books with Kangaroo Press, one of which has required seven reprints.
It is important for the Powerhouse Museum to collect material that documents processes and skills that might otherwise disappear. Maisie's technical and design skills made an important contribution to the Australian fashion industry. Knowing her expertise, fashion designers would always give her a free rein to explore her imagination in her beading -enlarging on colour schemes and themes for various different fashion houses. People with skills such as these are often working quietly behind the scenes but the work requires skill, design flair and energy.
Maisie's story also illustrates the influence of French style on fashion industries around the world and the way Australian consumers craved this influence during the first part of the twentieth century.
The most famous example of her work, however, was the beaded bra that Maisie designed in about 1962 for Berlei. It was initially designed to be worn under a see-through blouse for the purpose of a Public Relations event only,but proved so popular that Maisie had to make many hundreds of them to satisfy demand. The bra is an excellent complement to the Museum's large collection of Berlei underwear and company archive.
This collar was designed by Maisie Jarratt in Australia.
Sydney fashion designers would always give Maisie a free reign to design the beading because with her expertise, she knew better than anyone about the colours and different textures that could be achieved and was expert at sourcing interesting beads and threads. A photo of this collar appears on page 30 of 'French Embroidery Beading - How to Bead' Maisie Jarratt, Kangaroo Press 1991.
Made by Maisie Jarratt. Beads bought from Photios Brothers in Sydney.
Tambour beading takes its name from the way fabric to be beaded has to be tautly stretched over a frame like a tambour drum. One hand manipulates the Cornelli needle from above the frame on the wrong side of the fabric, and the other hand holds a string of beads under the fabric (the right side) while they are looped on with the needle underneath. The pattern is marked onto the wrong side of the fabric, that side uppermost.
(Emile Cornely was the first maker of the chain stitch embroidery machine with universal feed invented by J. Bonnaz 1900)