Saturday, October 15, 2011

Chatelaine

Lately, I have been working on hand-stitching down the binding on some customer ordered chatelaines. I carry small handwork projects like this around with me to do while waiting on appointments and when I answer the question "What are you making?" with "Chatelaine", it's clear the questioner is not a stitcher from the blank look and "Oh" response I get. So I demonstrate by putting one around my neck and slipping my thimble and small scissor in the pocket. I still get some funny looks, but others think it's a clever idea!

Actually, chatelaines have been around for several centuries...
Here's a definition from Wikipedia:

Chatelaine, 1765-1775 Victoria and Albert Museum no. C.492:1 to 7-1914 Chatelaine is a decorative belt hook or clasp worn at the waist with a series of chains suspended from it. Each chain is mounted with a useful household appendage such as scissors, thimble, watch, key, vinaigrette, household seal, etc.

Chatelaines were worn by many housekeepers in the 19th century. They were also worn by Anglo Saxon women, as seen from the burial record.

The name chatelaine derives from the french term ch√Ętelaine used to mean the female owner, or wife of the owner, of a large house. Originally the chatelaine was designed to have all the tools necessary for the woman of the household to sort out any problem she may encounter in her day, like a fraying curtain, however with time the chatelaine and the objects it held evolved from being a purely utilitarian object into a decorative symbol that reflected the status of the wearer.


There are pictures of some ornate chatelaines, and if I figure out how to copy a picture here I will. If not, you can google chatelaine to see a wide variety of pictures.

I think the mondern-day equivalent could be thought of as a fancy, handy key chain!Mine are simple and utilitarian and made from fabric. Instead of keys, I keep small sewing supplies handy when I'm working at my quilter
(like snippers, pins and seam rippers). I even stick my cell phone in a pocket so it's easy to take calls.