23 Nov 2022

Reclaiming the Past

Grŵp Gwisgoedd Treftad · The Heritage Costume Group

Recycle, re-purpose, upcycle…. these terms have become very familiar to us all over the last few years, as we are being influenced and encouraged to care for the environment as well as the need for austerity.

But for many of us ‘oldies’, such care and reuse of materials is almost second nature. We remember our mothers altering hand-me-downs to fit the next child, repairing a tear in clothing or darning holes in socks!  

Such memories, together with new inspiration from a popular BBC sewing programme (in which old garments are ‘transformed’ into new creations) have influenced a group of volunteers at the National Botanic Garden to be very creative in the re-use of old materials, including bedding, curtains or garments.

So, over the next few weeks, the Heritage Costume Group will be exhibiting a variety of costumes and accessories in the Gallery · Oriel yr Ardd.

Our range of costumes includes a Victorian farmer, in a picturesque smock made of calico bedding; a 1950s party girl dressed in pink, which was created from a vintage long skirt. A Regency lady, whose gown was once a double quilt cover; and a fetching courtier from the court of Louis XIVth, whose suit was once a set of luxury curtains!

In the weeks to come, the range of costumes will also include a 1920s Flapper, a 1970s Hippie and a 1960s Designer dress not to mention a Christmas-themed display.

Group members happily consider using all manner of materials and items – curtains, bedding, old garments to re-purpose, even tablecloths!  The sewers just love the challenge of creating lovely costumes and accessories, breathing life into unwanted materials and items. Clearly demonstrating that old materials can be re-used, whether to make costumes, clothing or furnishings. Plus, it’s very economical too!  Just throwing away such materials in a landfill is definitely not an option for the group members! 

We hope you enjoy our exhibition – and appreciate what we can create from unwanted materials!

The Heritage Costume Group consists of a small number of volunteers who love to sew and be creative. They come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences and have now been brought together, not only by their shared sewing skills but also by a fascination with the past and the amazing fashions worn by people over the centuries.