Sunday, October 1, 2017

Tiny Feet

The Colonial Lady disturbs me.
I don't care for historically inaccurate costuming,

or a nostalgic look at decorative women.

But mostly it's the tiny feet.

A nostalgia for bound feet perhaps.

Take off your shoe and put it by your face.
Your shoe and your face are about the same size
(Of course she has no face, but you get the idea.)

This is something you learn right away in life drawing class.
Hands and feet---big as the face.

Too be fair to the quiltmakers---even the
best of seamstresses can do nothing with a pattern
of bad proportion.

The Alice Brooks/Laura Wheeler pattern syndicate
was especially influential in popularizing these
balloon girls or umbrella girls with tiny feet.

Combined with a mediocre seamstress---mind boggling.

I did a few digital fixes but it really didn't make me like it any better.

Larger feet, not the answer.

At press time I found a few blocks online with elephantine feet.
I have some down slippers that look just like this.
Too be fair, this is another in the set. I think
those blue size 14's are her pantaloons.

The best bet might be no feet at all. They would be
hidden under that voluminous, crinolined colonial skirt anyway.

What the heck has she got in her hand. For that matter is that a giant
mushroom on the left? Is this woman addicted to recreational drugs?

Not alone.

UPDATE: Nann pointed out the history of tiny feet in Currier & Ives
prints too.

The Colonial Lady's ancestress. Tiny feet, tiny hands.
large posterior. Weird.


  1. This post had me laughing all the way through. Thanks for that - much appreciated! :D

  2. Currier & Ives prints (and probably others from the same era; C&I were the most famous) have tiny feet on both men and women. I was a kid when I first noticed that (my dad subscribed to American Heritage magazine that had reproduction prints). It creeped me out then and it still bothers me now. (Here's one example: https://www.drloriv.com/Tips/ID/4211/Currier-Ives-Prints)

  3. I got such a life out of the photos in this post. I did a talk for our local guild on the history of the SBS and Colonial Ladies patterns in September. As a result, it made me dig deep into my own collection. I have always told myself that I DO NOT collect these gals. Then why did I find so many as I went thru my piles of quilts. I think what I discovered is that I have drawn to eccentric "Sues and her colonial cousins". The tiny feet was one of the first things I noticed. I had always wondered whether the makers added these or whether the designers had them in their original designs. It would make so much more sense that the skirts simply drag the floor and hide the necessity of stitching feet or shoes for that matter. I'm going to continue to did dig and research 'cause now I have agreed to do a full exhibit in the spring so the rest of the islanders can see my eccentric Sues. Good excuse to go thru everything and get them all documented anyway.

  4. Life?? Laugh?? What's the difference but I couldn't figure out how to go back and edit my post!

  5. Great post....made me laugh! At least I wasn't eating!

  6. Thanks for the gift of some good laughs.

  7. I enjoy all your posts, but the Sunbonnet Sue, Overall Sam & Colonial Lady posts always make me laugh out loud. And I really needed one today!

  8. You made me smile. My solution to that s always pretend the feet are under the dress. Whether size 6 or size 10, no one needs to see them. LOL I still like the blocks, though.

  9. Nann - You aren't kidding about those tiny feet in Currier & Ives prints. I know from my work in the history of cowboy boots that tiny feet in men were considered attractive too. Weird.