Beautiful Vintage Treasures

Today I thought I’d share some beautiful vintage treasures that are now residing at our house.  You know that you have the sweetest friend when you receive an unexpected parcel from overseas (UK) and inside are some beautiful vintage pieces.  Well, that has happened to me not once, but twice, from my wonderful friend, Genine!  Her generosity left me speechless!  I cannot keep these treasures to myself, so although I’m not an expert on vintage clothing, I thought I’d share pictures and what little bit I do know about them.

My first parcel arrived here a bit ago, and inside was a ladies nightgown – simple, but beautiful just the same.  I have no idea what the date of this gown would be, but I suspect early 1900’s just because the gown is completely constructed by hand.  The stitches are tiny and the thread extremely fine.  The gown is knee length and all the beautiful lace and detail work is on the bodice, so I’ll focus on showing the bodice.

I can only imagine the time it took to piece together all of these different laces.  On each side of the laces are the teeny, tiny pintucks, perfectly executed.

I am choosing to believe that this beautiful gown was for someone’s trousseau.  It is in remarkably good condition.  I did find a “repair” that was done to the gown and it just made me laugh.  What on earth was someone thinking by using red thread on a white gown???

Not only does the red thread repair stick out like a sore thumb, but the thread looks like rope compared to the fine thread used in the rest of the gown.  Note to self – things not to do when repairing.  LOL!

Then last week, much to my surprise and absolute delight, I received yet another parcel from the UK and inside were 2 of the most beautiful baby gowns.  They are both very different, but both equally spectacular.

The first gown is made by machine.  Sewing machines were not commonplace in homes until the late 1800’s, though they had been around and available earlier than that.  But, that does at least give a clue that the dress is probably dated not earlier than the 1890’s or after.  The style of gown is one that is difficult (for me) to date since it is a style that has been around forever.

Correction – while I thought that this gown was machine made, I was wrong – it is also completely hand made.  The stitches are so tiny and so perfect that my “mature” eyes believed them to be machine made.  Under magnification I could see that they were expertly stitched by a master!

The gown is 22″ long and has the most exquisite hand embroidery down the front of the dress and also on the fabric between the laces.  The fabric is the weight of a Swiss batiste or lightweight lawn.  Beautiful stitches executed with the skill of an accomplished embroiderer.  The design is so delicate and sweet!  I cannot imagine the hours that this embroidery took to complete!

The pintucks at the yoke are also completed by machine by hand, which I find pretty amazing, as they are only 1/16″ tucks and perfectly spaced.  The back of the gown also has pintucks, but they are 1/8″ tucks.

The neck and sleeves are finished with entredeux and gathered lace, and the sleeves are also set in with entredeux.  It is the tiniest entredeux that I’ve ever seen – even smaller than what we consider to be “baby” entredeux.

The other detail on this gown that I think is beautiful and have used on dresses that I’ve made is that the underarm has pleats at the seam.  The underarm seam has come out a bit, so I will repair that, but I wanted to show this sweet detail as well.  As you would expect, the seams are 1/8″ French seams.

This gown is in great condition, whatever the age of it is.  Such a beautiful treasure !  And if you think that this gown is stunning, the next one will blow you away!!!

This gown I believe to be older than the previous one.  It is completely made by hand.  It measures 36″ from shoulder to hem.  It is also constructed with tiny, 1/8″ French seams.  I believe it to be somewhere in the mid 1800’s based on the style of it with the wider, open neck and drawstring at the neckline and waist as well as the longer length, which was more popular in the 1800’s.  The drawstrings allowed for babies of different sizes to wear this gown for their baptisms or Christenings.  It also has some beautiful details.

The round yoke overlay/collar is constructed with laces and insertion.  I do believe that the insertion is hand embroidered.  The embroidery is not consistent enough to be machine made and the thread used for the embroidery is heavier than what I would expect – definitely not the delicate, fine thread that was used on the previous gown.  That said, it is still beautiful.  Where the lace pieces are attached to the embroidered insertion, the raw seam edges inside are caught down by the beautiful featherstitching.  On each side of the hand embroidery is what appears to me to be a drawn thread  treatment.   I am going to have to ask some of my friends that are experts in drawn thread to examine this and advise.  The outside of the lace overlay has a tiny bias band, again with featherstitching.  On the back side of the featherstitching, again, the edges are raw.

This same lace combination is seen as a sleeve cuff.  I don’t know what you call a cuff overlay that goes upwards.  :)  I hope someone will enlighten me about that!

The details are well though out throughout this gown.  I love the waistband area of the gown and the ties have the tiniest pleats where they attach to the gown, and although they are coming out (and I will repair), the pleats extend about 5″ from where they are attached and then release for the bow which would be tied in the back.  Unfortunately, my picture is a bit fuzzy.  It sure was difficult to photograph this white and capture the beautiful details.

The waist of the dress is attached with a technique that I’ve seen called many different things – cartridge pleats, gaging and French gathers.  This technique creates tiny, perfectly placed pleats that are sewn on the skirt portion and then the skirt is sewn to the dress.  Jeanie Baumeister has a wonderful post on that technique on her blog and also teaches this and other, similar techniques.

The same insertion embroidery and featherstitching is at the waist.

The sleeves have these same little pleats underneath the lace collar overlay.

I cannot thank my sweet friend Genine enough for sharing her wonderful vintage finds with me!  She has certainly blessed me with her generosity and these treasures have a special place in my home and will be a delight to share with students.  Of course, it does make me a bit sad to think that someone stitched for hours in anticipation of a new baby wearing these beautiful gowns that were made with much love, and now the gowns have been sold and are no longer in the family.  Knowing that,  I just can’t keep them to myself.  I have to share their beauty with others that will appreciate it.

As I guess you can tell, I am quite taken by these vintage treasures.  I plan to bring them with me to the SAGA convention and hope to glean more information about them from some of the expert teachers that will be teaching and sharing their knowledge.  I am looking forward to meeting many new sewing friends while I’m there.  If you have a love of sewing and embroidery of any kind, consider attending – it will be a wonderful learning event for all manners of sewing and embroidery with some of the best teachers.

If any of my readers have some insight about these gowns, either the techniques or an ability to date them, please comment.  I would love to find out more about them.

I hope to see you at the SAGA Sewcation in Florida!


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