The Victorian Toilet Set

A Victorian Toilet Set usually consisted of one mat for a cushion to rest on, one large and small cushion and a pair of covered bottles. These articles were made as ornamental as one chose. The figure below shows an example of a large cushion and a pair of bottles.

Victorian Toilet Set
Click on picture to see more detail.

The cushion and bottles (see above) were covered first with pale blue silk. White bolting silk was worked in Roman embroidery designs with white etching silk. The white embroidered bolting silk was then stretched over the pale blue silk.

Other Victorian Toilet Sets

Almost any kind of pillow and bottle could be used. Personal preference dictated the style utilized. The coverings for these items could be made of plain lawn, bolting silk, or even fine shirt linen and decorated with embroidered designs done in outline or solid Kensington stitches.

Many times the dressing table was furnished with two or three small and fancifully-shaped cushions, in addition to the larger one. If this was the case, the same material and designs were carried throughout the entire toilet set.

Even during Victorian times, ladies found it easier to purchase the cushions already stuffed. Like today, they found that the cost of an appropriate sized pillow was hardly worth the bother to make. They, like most of us, would rather spend their time making the covering than stuffing a pillow.

If a Victorian lady chose to make the cushion at home, she was advised that bran made the best possible filling and the cushion should be filled until no more could be packed in. It was suggested that a blunt piece of iron or wood was used to help push the bran into the corners of the cushion

A Lovely Victorian Toilet Set Cushion

The cushion shown below is made a little longer than wide, and is stuffed so that it is higher in the back and slopes at a gentle angle to the front. This effect is secured by sewing side pieces to the top and bottom of cushion cover, having the back side pieces higher than the front. Cover the cushion with pale yellow surah silk, and make the top a removable cover of white silk bolting, bordered with fine white lace.

Victorian Toilet Cushion
Click on picture to see more detail.

The top of the cover may have a design of golden rod and foliage painted in oil colors. Fasten to the cushion with pale golden yellow bows. The design may be embroidered, in which case the golden rod should be worked with French Knots, and the foliage with Short and Long Stitch.


Another Toilet Set Cushion

The following instructions were published in 1886. Unfortunately, no diagrams or illustrations accompanied the instructions. If you follow the instructions provided and use your creativity, you will undoubtedly make a very beautiful Victorian Toilet Cushion.

Toilet Cushion #2

Materials – a triangular piece of crimson plush, the long side a little longer than the width. A piece of light blue satin, same size and shape.

Baste the satin first smooth and tight. Then lay the plush on the satin and sew together in long stitches. Turn it down and baste around. Over the seam draw a piece of fine white sink gauze, a finger wide, hemmed upon each side, with a spray of flowers embroidered or painted upon it. Finish the edge with a fall of antique lace. Where that is sewed on put a plaiting of very narrow satin ribbon.

Victorian Toilet Set Mat

These instructions were also published in 1886 and have no illustrations to accompany them. These instructions are, however, so simple, no illustrations are needed. See if you don’t agree.

Simple toilet mat

Cut squares of Congress cloth, as many as you wish for bureau or washstand. Leave a space for hem, the width of which is to be calculated by size of mat. Pull threads and run in rows of very narrow ribbon of different colors. These may be tied in tiny bows at the corners.


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