“You must come and see me frequently”
Chemisette – Browns Parlour
Keats was sometimes based in this room when he was sick and Fanny would visit him when she was allowed. In his letters Keats invites fanny to bring her “work” over, meaning her sewing. The basket of sewing on the sofa contains a chemisette
The design dates from 1800 – 1825, this chemisette is made from paper, hand painted and decorated with sequins. This is the type of item women would have made for themselves.
A Chemisette is worn to fill in the front and neckline of an outfit, it gives the appearance of a blouse worn under the outer garment without adding bulk and would keep the neck warm in the often low cut dress designs of this period.
This idea develop out of Fanny Browne’s collection of fashion plates, I wanted to make a garment out of paper to balance the fabric fashion plates, The chemisette was chose as it was a garment commonly made at home, and so it could represent Fanny’s “work” which Keats invites her to bring over and complete while sitting with him.
The pattern and construction was simple but finding a suitable way of decorating the paper to better represent fabric required testing a number of different techniques, the final affect was created by hand painting the decoration and embroidering the paper with sequins.
I established the chemisette would be placed in a basket to better represent sewing work before setting up. I am happy with the outcome of this piece. Although it looks delicate, it is not and the chemisette was in good condition on completion of the exhibition.
Feedback from the visitor questionnaire showed the chemisette to be the third most tried on item (jointly with the dress)