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What would a Suffragette be without her sash? Before we make our own, let’s do a little research!
During my image searching and reading, I learned that the colors associated with women’s suffrage in America were primarily gold and white. Purple, white, and gold were worn only by members of the National Woman’s Party: “Purple is the color of loyalty, constancy to purpose, unswerving steadfastness to a cause. White, the emblem of purity, symbolizes the quality of our purpose; and gold, the color of light and life, is as the torch that guides our purpose, pure and unswerving.”
Top: Rare Silk Suffragette Sash made for the Women’s Political Union, NYC, 1910-1915 – Jeff R. Bridgman American Antiques. Bottom: Suffrage Sashes, 1913-1917 – Emilia D. van Beugen, photographer
As you can see, suffragette sashes were made in several different color configurations.
Weren’t these women gorgeous? I could (and did) stare at their exquisite clothes and accessories all day! However, everything they wore was part of a strategic message, so let’s get to work on making our own, wearable slogans.
To start with you need ribbon! I used:
Once I had the ribbon, I draped it over my dress form to determine how long the sashes should be. (Side note, my dress form is the best $25 I ever spent on Craigslist!)
I cut the white, central ribbon at fifty inches long, and placed a pin to mark where I thought the letters should begin. Eliza helped me with the stickers. I would have loved to use iron-on letters, but I couldn’t find enough at the store, and I didn’t have enough time to order them.
I knew there was no way that the stickers would stay on these sashes, long-term. So, I put a bit of Fabri-Tac on the end of a toothpick and dabbed it under the edges of the letter stickers. Then, I sprayed everything with clear topcoat. As it turns out, these adhesive attempts were inadequate, but more on that, later!
Once the glue and spray dried on the white ribbons, I prepared to sew on the gold and purple ribbons down their sides. I did this by overlapping the colored ribbon edges with the white, central ribbon by about an eigth of an inch. I learned to leave a bit extra of colored ribbon past each end of the white ribbon and trimmed it to match the white ribbon after I sewed. This is because the stitching tended to shorten the ribbon, a bit.
After the gold and purple stripes were stitched, I trimmed all the ribbon ends to match in length, and applied Fray Check to prevent fraying.
At this point, I thought I was done. However…The letters started to pop off as I bent and flexed the ribbon during the sewing process. They continued to peel away during the photo shoot. Amazingly, I only lost one letter completely. This is kind of a miracle, considering that I had to hold Annika a bunch, at the end! So, once we got home, I tried another glue in my arsenal: Elmer’s Craft Bond Tacky Glue. This worked amazingly well. This is the only glue I would use if I were starting over!
And that, my friends, is how I made our suffragette sashes! We wore them over our right shoulders and fastened them with safety pins. In my next post, I’ll show you how I put together the rest of our costumes. Until then, keep marching (and voting) to make the world a better place!