I found this pyjama at my local Goodwill Center. When I spotted it in the bin I thought it was a 1920s/30s quilt, and then I noticed the legs. So thought number 2 was that some crafty young thing in the 1970s took an old quilt and made a jumpsuit from it. But then the bodice appeared from the jumble of clothes, and I saw that the maker had engineered the bodice pieces into a chevron design, and then realized this was an intentional design.
A close look at the construction revealed that this piece is from the late 1920s or the 1930s. All the patchwork pieces are silk, and they are hand-sewn together, and also anchored to a muslin underlining. The pyjama closes in the front, with snaps up the center front.
The condition is amazing. I thought at first that it had never been worn, but there are light stains on the muslin under the arms, so some brave girl did wear it, at least once. How this survived the frenzy of the Goodwill bins is a miracle, as some of the silk is beginning to deteriorate. Unfortunately, this was stored folded, and where the creases were, the silk fibers have begun to crack. But the good news is that this is so thick that only the places on the inner most part of the folds were damaged. The rest of it curved around itself and that prevented most of the fibers from creasing. In a single ply silk garment, like a chemise, you often find that it literally falls apart at the folds when moved after years in storage.
So how does a collector prevent this type of damage? In a perfect situation, the garment would be stored flat, with acid-free tissue cushioning the interior of it. But that is usually not possible. Since there is a strong understructure, this pyjama could be stored hanging on a padded hanger. If it had to be stored folded, the best thing to do is to pad all the fold with acid-free paper, knowing that in a few months the paper will need to be changed and the folds rearranged.
To learn more about the trials of textile storage, get a copy of Preserving Textiles by Harold F. Mailand and Dorothy Stiles Alig.
Posted by Stacey:
What a great find! It’s so neat that you found a piece dating from the 20s. You certainly have a knack for finding treasures at your local thrift store!
Monday, August 16th 2010 @ 6:32 PM
Posted by Anonymous:
That’s amazing. Doesn’t it make you wonder what else was stored with that piece? And where the rest of it went? 😕
Tuesday, August 17th 2010 @ 4:04 AM
Posted by Sarsaparilla:
Oh my! What an incredible find! I can’t stop looking at it. Perfect for displaying in a vintage bedroom or sunny porch. Lucky you! Like Stacey said – you’ve certainly got a knack for finding treasures.
Tuesday, August 17th 2010 @ 5:54 AM
Posted by Gina Americana:
Tuesday, August 17th 2010 @ 12:33 PM
Posted by Joules:
Incredible that it wasn’t pulled apart in the jumble of the bins! I love the wild color mix, and wonderful workmanship. Great post, LIzzie!
Tuesday, August 17th 2010 @ 7:00 PM
Posted by Sarah:
Extraordinary find! I love how you describe your thought processes as you gradually pull it out of the bin and it reveals itself. How exciting!
Tuesday, August 17th 2010 @ 10:55 PM
Posted by samsara:
Wow! I love this, that chevron design is lovely indeed. I also really enjoyed your story of finding it, Ms. Lizzie!
Thursday, August 19th 2010 @ 8:08 AM
Posted by Couture Allure:
Your thrift bins reveal the most amazing finds! This is incredible. Must show it to Pam.
Friday, August 20th 2010 @ 3:59 AM
Posted by Glamoursrf:
Lizzie, this is gorgeous. I love the patchwork effect along with the chevron striping. Congrats on finding such a treasure.
Friday, August 20th 2010 @ 7:17 AM
Posted by Lizzie:
I’m glad you all loved this unusual piece! Yes, Jody, it is the place of a treasure hunter’s dreams!
Friday, August 20th 2010 @ 9:09 AM