When my father visited me back in october, he asked if we could visit the local antiques shop together. I hadn’t been there for months or even more than a year because the last visits there had been quite unsuccessful and it was quite far from our old flat. Now, from our new home it is less than ten minutes by foot.
And whilst my father didn’t find anything this time, I found something, to be exact two things. The better preserved one I am showing you today, when the second one will be ready to be presented I don’t know, could take some time, so you need to be patient.
This dress hung on a coat rack next to a 60ies ladies suit that didn’t appeal to me at all. But this one did. I would date it around 1940. It has been reworked, it seems as if someone re-used the black silk from an older garment, some seams are oddly placed and you still find remnants of previous ones. The skirt as well as the front part is made from black silk satin, the upper part of the bodice and the sleeves are made from blue silk satin, overlaid with black lace. Small parts like the collar and the cuffs are worked in black silk crêpe.
There is no label to be found and judging from the seams and the fact that an older garment was re-used I assume that this dress was homesewn. The front and the belt as well as the cuffs close with press buttons.
Unfortunately the silk crêpe of the collar has discoloured, maybe caused by light. I plan to hand-wash it with ivy leaves, which can not only be used as a mild detergent, but also helps dark colours to refresh (that’s why you shouldn’t wash light colours with it, it doesn’t only refresh, it obviously kind of dyes), I hope this will help a little.
Only on the way home I realized it had a large tear on the right side of the skirt, beforehand I had thought it was, apart from the collar, in wearable condition. To fix this I arranged a scrap of silk-organza on my embroidery hoop, pinned the tear onto it and darned it with silk thread, which I had splitted in three very thin strands beforehand.
Please note, this is very important for me: I am not a conservator, I have never learnt how to conserve and repair old and antique textiles. This is NOT how you should conserve an antique dress, the main premise of museums today is that a manipulation should be reversible. The darning above surely doesn’t accord to any museum practice. I bought this dress and planned to wear it, that’s why I did what I did, not to make anything according to museum standard!
Here you see the outside and the inside of the top part.
A close-up of the skirt. You see the traces of the old seams and that the hem used to be folded on a slightly different position. Below some thread remnants I removed from the old seams. The brown parts are the ones that were exposed to light, the black parts stuck in the fabric, this is what light does to textiles!
I really managed to take not a single photo were the tear is really visible. You can maybe make it out in the one below, it sits at half height.
Unfortunately the sleeves are a bit on the small side, I really have to keep my shoulders pulled up to wear them as long as this. If I should ever really wear it (I maybe won’t dare at all, it is quite delicate), I will maybe try to roll them up on the inside and wear them as 3/4-sleeves, so I won’t have to change them.
Side note: The shoes look pretty authentic, but date in fact from the 1970ies. I know for sure because the seller had bought them for herself back then. It was the Bonnie&Clyde-Great Gatsby-mania and the revival of 30ies-fashion that made shoes like this so very popular and close to the original 30ies ones. I own another very similar pair from the 70ies and they are not only very comfortable, but it is also a relief to know that they are not that old and delicate as they look. Oh, and they are cheaper, too 😉
See you soon, love