Thursday, April 30, 2020

Back to that Basket....

c1750 Silk Satin Christening Gown 1123.2020.15
 There are just a few things left in the basket now...not gonna lie, I may have saved the last 'few' things for last, as they are the most exciting! This is a typical cream silk satin christening gown of the period...I say typical, because I have several in the collection here, and have studied several in other collections, and they are all made from similar cream silk satin, with nearly the same louped fancy gimp fringe and fly braids.  The arrangements of the trim may be different, the cut of the gown bodice a little different...but for the most part, elements made from are the same. I wonder if the fabric itself was billed as satin specifically for these gowns?
This one is beautiful~ with a nice full skirt~ 86" at the hem.  Its always fun to study the different gown openings...some have an open front, some are back closing....I have seen both front and back stitched closed so the gown was slipped on over the head of it's wearer.  Agrees in this hasty picture, it is hard to see, the the gown has a partial open back, with a partially attached front apron.

  This shows the top (waistband )of the front apron~ to the right in the picture. This is a fully separate piece from the gown, and a lot of times they are missing, leaving a shell that resembles an open robe. Instead of having a full petticoat on the child, this apron is used as a filler, and in this case, the edges of it have been hastily tacked to the edges of the gown front.  There are no ties on the waistband, it would have been pin'd to baby's under clothes.

 The front of the bodice is expertly pleated to shape, with wide cuffed stitched on sleeves (some gowns just had shoulder straps the sleeves were tied onto)

 We know the center front was not stitched up later, because of the neck binding that runs over the center front seam.

 Such tiny stitches...tiny tiny tiny.  Imagine, no electric magnification available.  It's no wonder the sewing table's favorite spot was next to a large window.

 Apron top

 A wonderful arrangement of the trim to the front, with additions of grouping of knotted silk fly fringe, along with 'danglies' that I adore.

 These little drops are only attached at the very top, so they dance around merrily when the gown is moved

 It's all party in the front on this gown~ the back is all business. A nice smooth gown, void of trim that would get hung up on Mamma's gown. Also very frugal and practical~ why pay for trim that would never be seen?

A close view of the back shows the pleating echoes that of the front.  There are four sets of silk tape ties for a back closure.

One of the ties has pulled loose, and is held in place with a straight pin...from our cushion no doubt.
I hope thee has not grown tired of our basket exploration yet...the best is still yet to come!

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Threads ....

Arrived & Gone Again

For those of you who had threads on order, they have all come in, been sorted and shipped out again this morning, so check your email for your tracking numbers.  I have tried for years to figure out why my emails get sorted into spam boxes...still have no clue so I just roll with it!  Thankyou again so very much for the orders, I truly appreciate your patronage

Friday, April 24, 2020

Next out of the Basket...

Baby Shift 1132.2020.24
 I just love this simple piece. The cut of construction is as basic as it gets, but the expert minute stitching shows it is thoroughly contrived with love and intent for a precious little stranger, indeed. It is small, just 19" shoulder to hem. Its a really exciting piece once you start really looking at it....
What do you notice about this first? The long center front opening? Long sleeves? The ties attached to the sleeves? Maybe those gussets over the shoulders???

  From studying eighteenth century shift construction, we know they were usually made from rectangle pieces of cloth~ square gussets were added under the arm for ease, and occasionally long rectangular gussets were added  from the hem up the sides, to add fullness. This little garment breaks all those rules. The front and back are each one big rectangle....but instead of adding a gusset under the arm, the gusset has been added over the shoulder...and there are no gussets on the sides to add fullness. Then again, it makes total sense. Why would a baby need fullness at the hem? They cant walk. Even with the front opening...I wish I could have been there to see Mum trying to squeeze her little one into this thing.....a sausage stuffing machine comes to my mind forefront!

 Delicate frills edge the neck and sleeve cuffs. There is a drawstring tie around the neck.....

The bottom of the front opening has been whipped to keep it from ripping out further down the front of the garment with use. 

 And here is a good view of those over shoulder amount of that baby's skin would have been seen with this on.  Was it a cold weather garment??? 

  The frills expertly rolled onto the cuffs.

  Here are those ties again.... firmly stitched to the bottom of each sleeve..... interesting.  Now if this piece was later, say in the may say they resemble the tabbed imbecile sleeves of that era~ (extra extra long sleeves that were pushed up on the arm, and held in place with a button tab or band attached just above the cuff of the sleeve).  But nope. This is earlier. I have my speculations, being a mother of four precious beings myself. 

 The ties are stitched in place~ not just cording passed thru and knotted.....

 And looking closer, we see they are not cording at all, but tightly spiraled flat tape ties.  So what do I think these are for?  Well...for me, it is obvious~ this garments is just the predecessor to the Gerber onesie with the fold over mitts in the sleeves to keep baby from scratching the heck out of their little faces when they are so brand new. Mum could just tie the ends of the sleeves closed, and baby's hands would be secured within the sleeves. They could still wiggle their arms...but wouldn't be able to claw their face...or anyone else's.

 There is not a raw edge anyplace on the garment~ if the seam is not flat felled, it has been expertly finished. This is the view inside the neckline, looking at the gusset at the top of the picture, and then the armscye below. Perhaps a better term for this garment would be a baby 'saque'. I wish there were more of these around to study~ 

Sunday, April 19, 2020

the bottomless basket....

Knit Bib 1131.2020.23
Next out of the basket is a knit bib~ above I have it directly over the hollie point one we just peeked at~ it is nearly the same exact shape and size of the hollie point bib.   

  Knit items are more rare to survive, as just by the nature of the stitch, if it gets a break in the thread or a snag in its hundreds of years of existence, it will unravel.  Folks who don't knit, will throw out a garment if it gets a hole because they don't know how to mend it. Lucky for us, this little gem is complete. The body is knit is a pleasing fan pattern with scallop front edge, and the whole thing is edged in what look to me to be crochet.
 Do enlarge the pictures~ the threads are very fine, my photos are highly magnified.  

 Looking at the stitches individually, I like to imagine the hands who so expertly placed each and every one of them. 

The back side....

Thursday, April 16, 2020

I feel like I'm in the Twilight Zone....

Hollie Point Baby Bib/Apron 1130.2020.22
  Wow, I really am in the Twilight Zone. I thought I made this blogpost yesterday....and this morning, I go to check my email, and here it is.....sitting here on the screen waiting for me.  Josh is working from home, Pip is schooling from home....not only do I not know what the heck day of the week it is...I cant even tell what hour of the day it is.  Last week seems like 2 seconds ago....and yet again, like a year ago.
So next out of the basket was a bit of a ball of fluff that when opened ended up being two wonderful baby bibs~ the first, this one with a Hollie Point lace insertion down the front

The construction is simple, two shaped bands of linen whipped to each side of a band of Hollie Point lace, over which 3 rows of of lace have been stitched on, with the entire thing edged in same lace.

The Hollie Point band has the typical eyelet loop edges, and is the same potted flower pattern as the rest of the pieces in the basket.

Here you can see a little of the back, how the lace is loosely stitched on, and also the attachment of the linen tape ties at the neck.  Note the placement of the ties, allowing for the width of the bib to fall over the baby's shoulders when worn. it a bib.....or an apron?  I know I will get this question, so will try and explain my termage here~
Early baby things are hard to identify, period.  So many were handed down, reused...made for new mothers by family members that remembered things their own parents used, or that they used when having one cannot use a flat 'fashionable cut ' sort for dating.  I look at provenance if available,  the materials it is made from...was the piece together with a group of like items?
This piece was together with a grouping of early 18th c items, has the same lace as many in the basket, and since the basket is centered around Christening items, I am more inclined to identify it as a 'bib'.  But, truth be told, if I would have found this alone by itself, I most certainly would call it an 'apron', as it is nearly identical in cut to the decorative aprons that are pin'd on top of swaddling bands in this era. Could it actually be an apron and just the only survivor of yet more matching pieces that were indeed a swaddling set....sure it could. But I'm in no situation to speculate on that...heck I don't even know what day it is.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

THANKYOU for NOT washing!

Christening Sash 1129.2020.21
 Next out of the basket  was three folded/rolled strips of wide silk ribbons. I could tell immediately what  one of them was, because it had the same silk fringe trim stitched to the end, that matched with others in the basket.  Unrolling it I got super excited because it was it's full length, and was what we would refer to as a sash for a gown.  So many of these things would get reused for other purposes in the years after the Christening set was no longer needed.  We have several 18th c Christening gowns here in the collection, but none have their original sash with them.

There were two other lengths of ribbon along with, one nearly identical in weight and width, seen far right in the picture above,  but just a few inches long with torn ends....and then another length of a leaf brocade seen on the left.  What is super exciting about the actual those folds there~ do you see them?

 Having these folds still remaining on the sash, tells me exactly how it was originally worn. The exact width of the folded pleats gives the measure of the width of the sash as worn,

and exactly how much of the sash was pleated to go round the baby's body, as there is clearly an end point to the pleats.  They were not stitched, just folded and pressed. The narrow part would go round baby, tied to the side or back, with the wide fringed ends gracefully cascading down from the bow. 
It may seem silly, but its times like this, when one is truly grateful that the item was never washed~ washing removes the clues to how something was placed on the body. Even lines/areas of staining can provide essential clues as to how an object was originally worn....especially with baby things!  

Wednesday, April 08, 2020


Bonnet 1135.2020.27

Next out of the basket is the last of the bonnets~ I think this one early 19thc.  Not the finest sprig'd muslin, but its still a nice example. There is a 'V' insertion of lace over the crown, and all those rows of cording to the front.  This view shows them let out, and you will see in the next picture, the other side with them slightly gathered.  

 You can see, just how much fabric can be drawn up in a small space. At the top of the photo, you can also see the ends of the center front drawstring ties.  If one did not have the money or time to make a slew of bonnets for a growing child, one such as this would suffice for some while. The side and front drawstring could be gathered fully and make quite a small size head covering~ as the child grew, the strings were let out. Some also have another set of ties at center back, to gather along the nape of the neck. 

A double row of lace make a simple yet charming frill around  the child's face. 

   There are two cords for every channel..making for a lot of threads to keep track of! The rows were usually tied together to keep their size~ as in, the two left most pairs tied together, the 2 rightmost tied together(note there is only a single cord adjacent to the lace)...then, just wrapped round the fingers into a neat little bundle and tucked up inside the cap when worn.

Sunday, April 05, 2020

Next out of the Basket....

 Bonnet 1133.2020.25

I love this little bonnet~ my favorite of all the bonnets in the basket, even over the Hollie Point one.  The construction is nothing out of the ordinary~its the usual classic shape baby bonnet with round crown and little lace frill round the front and neck edges 

  What melts my heart about this bonnet, is the amount of hand work that has been put into it. Each stitch, placed with love and intent. The hours that went into making the lace around the edge...most likely purchased by the maker and not made by them....but, as I was not there, I could not say for sure.

 I love love love the embroidery on this sleeper. I call these sleepers...because from a ways back, one thinks, ah, just the usual utilitarian bonnet. But the closer one looks, the more marvels they behold. Chain stitch vines and fancy scrolling stripes, alternating with drawn thread work and those little eyelets~ sooo precious!

  With magnification one cannot appreciate the minute scale the embroidery is executed in, until there is something in the photo for scale.

  I would love to have eyes good enough to be able to sew this small without my magnifiers on....and as I am getting older, my magnifiers are not even working any more.  Do enlarge the pictures, I just had to leave them big so ya'll can see the stitches!

  Rows of minute drawn thread stitches between chain stitch scallops....from my years of studying early fashion, these patterns are hinting to me this is a very late 18th c to early 19th c bonnet. Baby things are very hard to date by the thing itself, unless it has some unique construction, or say, is made from a woven silk or printed material~ then that can be used to help date. Alot of times, if the item is in a set or grouping that has remained original, we will use clues from other items in the group to help date. There is one wonderful piece still to come out of the basket, that helps me to date this little bonnet to perhaps very early 19th c....
but until then...

The delicate lace crown~