Thursday 14 May 2020

Best Bib And Tucker

That's a wonderfully archaic phrase, dating back almost 300 years. A bib was a fancy trim on the front of a bodice- between the throat and the waist, and a tucker was a lace insert in the neckline. Later, bib was applied to menswear also. People sometimes spoke of bib and bands where bands meant a collar, and the bib was the decorative front of the shirt. 
The key thing was fancy, decorative clothing - not your plain everyday wear. To put on your best bib and tucker meant to get dressed in your smartest clothes - your 'Sunday best', your 'go-to-meeting' outfit. Most of us in the west have far too many clothes now. My Grandad had his best [Sunday] suit, worn for church, funerals and formal events - and when it started to wear shiny and thin, it became his working outfit, Monday to Friday - and once it got beyond that, it was his casual outfit for gardening, working in the shed, etc. Similarly shirts - first for church, then when the collars went, they were 'turned' and worn for work, then finally removed neatly, so the shirt could be worn for 'mucky jobs', or day trips to Southend [because you wear allowed to forego a collar&tie when on holiday!] None of this popping into M&S to buy a pair of 'gardening trousers' 
I have known this expression for years- but what I did not realise until this week is that "bib and tucker" has nothing to do with the bibs worn by babies! The word bib here comes froma C14 word bibben, probably from the Latin bibere, meaning to drink. Because small babies drink a lot, and they dribble! This garment protected their clothes from the spills and dribbles.
And I have been interested in bibs this week because there have been a lot of "lockdown babies" - Steph is in an NCT group and wanted bibs for all the group, a neighbour had a baby on Saturday too [and of course, it was important to do a facecloth for the sibling] and a friend from the Craft Group had asked for a bib for a new little relation. So I ordered some plain bibs from John Lewis, and used up some others in and stitched a dozen on Tuesday.
Eagle eyes will spot a duplicate- I wasn't too happy with my first crocodile, so George is getting that along with the giraffe bib.
When Steph was on holiday in Budapest, she met up with a friend of a friend. He is South African, but lives in Amsterdam - and he sent George a toy giraffe this week. 
I don't think I have used the embroidery machine's built-in motifs enough. So I am working on developing that skill, mastering the art of speedy rethreading in a different colour!
All eight Mums in Steph's group have had their babies now - George was the last to arrive. they are hoping to have a reunion at the end of June. I do hope they can!


  1. I've heard the expression, "Best bib and tucker", but, only had a vague idea of exactly what parts of a garment were meant. The little personalized bibs you made are so cute!

  2. How interesting - love this kind of social history.
    Baby bibs are gorgeous - you have been very busy at your sewing machine these past couple of weeks!
    A new baby giraffe was just born at the Toronto zoo this week!

  3. Giraffes are Very Cool. Maybe they will take over from llamas and sloths as the "in" creatures...

  4. There was a pair of Clara Oswald shorts whose brand item name was 'Bib and Tuck' shorts..which has a very similar fastening!!!

  5. I think your bibs are gorgeous and I love how much use your amazing embroidery machine is getting. How long does it take to do one and how do you get it to do them? I think we should have a blogpost on how it works!

  6. This is a good idea, perhaps a should do an informative blogpost next time the machine is out...


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