V&A Dundee

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Quant at home

Ahead of our Mary Quant exhibition, we issued a call-out. We asked you to help us learn more about Mary Quant's impact in Scotland by sharing your memories of her iconic fashion. Take a look at some of the best stories you sent our way.

If you ever made clothes from Quant patterns, owned a Quant piece or were impacted by her style in any way, we wanted to hear about it. And you certainly came up with the goods!

With her fresh take on designer clothes at an affordable price point during the post-war austerity, Mary Quant’s fashion made people feel good. Homes started to fill up with the iconic daisy brand. Enamoured by the possibilities of making and customising their own unique garments using traditional dressmaking skills and a variety of materials, women collected and made their way through Mary Quant Butterick or Courtelle patterns at speed.

Through their recollections, those who got involved with #SewQuant highlighted just how Mary Quant made an impression in ordinary homes across the country. Alongside the physical garments bought, made and kept by many, we were charmed by reminiscences of the Mary Quant style, now neatly sewn into fond family memories.

The following anecdotes have been turned into short webcomics delightfully illustrated by Fraser Robertson.

Pushing the boundaries

from Denise Carroll

"I had a pattern that I made for a wedding: it got shortened several times until my grandfather asked if it was a shirt. It was about 30cm below my waist, but I did wear tights, very expensive at that time."

Bright illustration showing a woman from above, leaning over a worktable cutting out a dress pattern.
Bright illustration showing a woman at a dress making table making a short dress. An old man stands next to her asking of she's making a shirt because it seems quite short.
Bright illustration showing the woman with her newly made dress standing next to a bride on her wedding day.
  • Pushing the boundaries 1/3.

  • Pushing the boundaries 2/3.

  • Pushing the boundaries 3/3.

Timeless and liberated

from Ann Ross

"I would have loved the Quant look but my dad, who was a shirt cutter, used to draw the patterns and make mine and my mum’s clothes. As a result, my dresses were very similar to mum’s and I used to cry with frustration. I couldn’t make my own because he guarded the sewing machine like a Rottweiler! I learned after I left home and at 68 I still make many of my clothes."

Bright and colourful illustration showing an older man sat at a sewing machine looking moody.
Bright and colourful illustration showing an older man having made clothes for a young woman that looks very similar to her mum's.
Bright and colourful illustration showing a woman having made her own clothes, looking in the mirror and admiring her handiwork.
  • Timeless and liberated 1/3.

  • Timeless and liberated 2/3.

  • Timeless and liberated 3/3.

Out of work, into fashion

from Maggie Billington

"I had several Mary Quant designs that I made myself. I had a Saturday job, so I would meet my friend at lunchtime, we would buy patterns and fabric, then she would take them to my house where my mum would help her cut everything out before I got home from work. We would make up the garments, then go out in them that evening! I shudder to think how they fitted or how well finished they were.

We thought ourselves the absolute height of fashion, though my mum said in later years that she “would not have liked to walk round to the dustbin with us, the get-ups we would go out in."

Bright and colourful illustration showing someone working at a sewing machine as someone else walks in the door.
Bright and colourful illustration showing someone working at a sewing machine as their friend stands next them with a mannequin with a dress on it.
The two friends are dancing in a club, one of them wearing the dress that had just been made.
  • Out of work, into fashion 1/3.

  • Out of work, into fashion 2/3.

  • Out of work, into fashion 3/3.

Mary Quant today

from Miriam Morris

"I've had a love of all things 60s since I can remember and when a teen, my folks got me this gorgeous Mary Quant raincoat on a trip in London. Dug it out the other day because, Scotland 🧐☂️"

Bright and colourful illustration showing a photo of a young woman wearing a red raincoat in front of the houses of parliament.
Bright and colourful illustration showing the same woman, older now, sitting in her chair looking out the window at the rain pouring down.
Bright and colourful illustration showing the woman back in the red raincoat dancing around a lampost in the pouring rain.
  • Mary Quant today 1/3.

  • Mary Quant today 2/3.

  • Mary Quant today 3/3.

A number of the stories and photographs we received throughout this campaign feature in a digital slide show in our Mary Quant exhibition.

A huge thanks to all of you who shared memories and dug out old patterns, garments, dolls, sketches and photographs to show us. We hope it was as fun for you as it was for us! 🌼

Fraser Robertson is an illustrator living and working in Dundee who produces narrative-focussed illustrations and character designs. Most recently working as a recurring illustrator on issues of Dungeons on a Dime, and lately creating the cover artwork for In the Red, with author Bryan Tyrrell. Follow Fraser on Instagram.