The Fabric of History

Kay Staniland unravels the threads of a career as costume historian and textile curator at the Museum of London

Being a dress historian was not originally on my career agenda. As a child, sewing came almost as naturally as walking, and almost as early. Embroidery and knitting were quickly added to the repertoire; it is family lore that I achieved my first cushion cover before I was five. My father, a talented amateur artist, taught me embroidery but was less enthusiastic when pestered to produce drawings of crinoline ladies for me to colour. So, aged about seven or eight, I was introduced to Winsor & Newton’s excellent series of Historic Costume Painting Books and dressed my dolls in historic as well as contemporary wardrobes.

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