Tiger Lilies

Tiger Lilies - Long View

Tiger Lilies – Long View

This rather fabulous coat was a collaboration. My mother made it for herself to wear at a friend’s wedding in the early nineteen-sixties, and when she began to run out of time, Grandmama stepped in and stitched like a whirlwind to get it finished!

The original outfit was a silk dress and coat combination, a very simple sheath dress, and this edge-to-edge, three-quarter sleeve coat. The front is completely unadorned, because, after all, at a Church wedding people will mostly see each other from the back!

The design of Tiger Lilies is from a transfer. Actually, we think it was three of the same transfer, cut and put together to create a design that fit the coat back. After the darts had been put in…

Tiger Lilies - A Flower

Tiger Lilies – A Flower

I’ve seen a few cream running stitches which suggest to me that, rather than using the transfers as transfers, the design was stitched through the paper. Given the sensitivities of silk, that was probably very sensible!

The embroidery is worked in stranded cotton. It’s all very simple stitchery, long and short stitch, stem stitch, French Knots, and a few buttonhole wheels.

It relies for its effect not on complexity of stitching, but on the colour and pattern combination.

If I’m going to be picky, the silk was a bit light for the stitching – although the puckers may be a result of years and cleaning, as I can’t imagine Grandmama, after Miss Hunter’s training, would have stitched with such tension, and no more would my mother, after Grandmama’s training!

Tiger Lilies - Leaves

Tiger Lilies – Leaves

Grandmama also contributed assistance in making a pillbox hat, ornamented with swirls of gauze to match the colours, and then they painted a pair of shoes (Rayne, no less!) and a handbag (Marks and Spencer, alas) to match the green gloves which were bought new. A three-strand green stone bead necklace completed the outfit, and my mother remembers receiving a lot of compliments, at that occasion, and several others later.

Many years later still, when I was in the Upper Sixth, with a pale orange sheath dress underneath, I wore this for the Founders Day Service at school. We went into town afterwards, and my goodness, how people jumped to serve us!

Regrettably the coat fits neither my mother nor myself these days, and we’re wondering what to do with it…


  1. Zilpa Bat Levi says:

    Don’t know what to suggest, other than it looks like museum quality!

  2. Carolyn says:

    Hang it on the wall like the Japanese do with those beautiful kimonos.

  3. Penny says:

    I agree with the museum idea. Or – if you have a stitchery store with a classroom you might donate it to them — what an inspiration it is for would-be stitchers.

  4. Terrie says:

    Just leave it is a treasure. It’s a beautiful keepsake from mama.

  5. Sue Jones says:

    My goodness, that’s an impressive coat. And it should certainly be on display somewhere.

  6. Glenis says:

    Preserve it. Do NOT give it away to anyone unless they are a stitcher and can therefore appreciate it fully. (JMHO) Definitely a treasure, and a memory of grandma as well.

  7. Janice says:

    Such a beautiful coat, to complement a beautiful outfit. Does your uncle have any daughters who might appreciate the coat? Other than that I agree with all the comments above – keep it, love it and bequeathe it to somewhere that will want to display it.

  8. It is a stunning and very unusual piece. If there isn’t a family member you can pass it on to, maybe contact the Bath Museum of Fashion?

  9. Lady Fi says:

    So pretty! What an amazing coat.

  10. Certainly a Museum. Our local County Museum has a dedicated fashion section and they are always looking for donations as lovely and evocative as this.

  11. karen says:

    oh keep it, drool over it, fondle it, love it, adore it. It’s a wonderful piece of history.

  12. Sandy says:

    I’m surprised no one said, “Give it to me!”. Beautiful – and the description of the whole outfit sounds wonderful, too; your Mom knew how to dress.
    I’d keep and display it like a kimono, then leave it to a museum in my will!

  13. Jillayne says:

    What a beauty – the whole ensemble sounds amazing! And what a wonderful story – the stitching is remarkable.

  14. Susan says:

    It is so gorgeous. It would be a shame to let it pass out of the family, but if there isn’t someone who can wear it, then I’m sure you can figure out an artful display of it, donate it to a museum, or even sell it. It is simply beautiful.