Penny’s oh, sew stylish
For more than 100 years a white butcher’s hat and stripey apron were the only clothes on view in T.Kerr’s butchers on Tower Street, but now Souters can find anything from Victorian top hats to Edwardian wedding dresses, writes Sandy Neil.
For the former butchers’ shop has entered a new era, with Penelope’s Textiles set to open under new owner Penny Burgess.
Penny’s shop, an expansion of her internet-based company Penelope’s Vintage & Antique Textiles, draws on Selkirk illustrious heritage by selling materials from Victorian silks and curtains, scraps of velvet and damask, to Regency Indian cotton chintz.
In fact, the oldest fabrics Penny stocks are 15th and 16th century tapestry fragments, and the newest are stockings from the 1940s to 1960s.
“I love textiles,” she told The Wee Paper. “And if they’re old and have a sense of history, I love them even more.
“The shop is for anybody interested in old things: collectors, museums, crafters, designers, students, re-enacters – there’s actually a huge market.
“Primary school children are particularly interested in the history, if I tell them: ‘This is a button from a Prussian army officer, or this is a top hat and men went mad making it.”
Pulling one beautiful item of clothing from the rack at random, Penny said: “This is a Regency christening gown with Ayrshire embroidery, so it’s Scottish. It was stitched by hand, probably in the worst poverty-struck conditions: a mother with children to feed, a husband at war, so what does a mother do at night, but sew?”
Perhaps Penny identifies with this story of a hard working mother, for she started selling textiles four years ago to pay for her daughter’s swimming lessons: “This all sprung up by accident,” she told us. “My daughter wanted swimming lessons, so I sold some linens I had. People then asked if I had any more, so I started sourcing more and more.”
Her internet-based business grew and grew, until she was able to buy the Tower Street premises. “All this used to be in my bedroom,” she told us, “so I’m relieved to now have the shop.”
Penny’s shop officially opens this month, and the back room in the old butcher’s shop will later be converted into a studio space and repair area.
Penny is perhaps a fitting new resident of the Tower Street shop, for where Thomas Kerr’s had been a butcher for at least five generations, her family history in textiles traces back to the 1760s, she says.
“They were weavers, tie-makers, bootmakers, seamstresses, “ she listed; “my mother sewed, I’ve always sewed and now my daughter sews, so it’s passed on through the generations.”
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Weather for Selkirk
Tuesday 21 May 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 15 mph
Wind direction: North east
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