Round Hill Originals Decorated Sweater

Several weeks ago Emily at Virgin Vintage posted photos of a sweater on the Vintage Fashion Guild forums.  It was hand decorated with bugs and mushrooms, much in the manner of a Pat Baldwin sweater but it had a label I’d never seen before.

It was a Round Hill Original of Greenwich, Connecticut.  Marvelous researcher Lynne was able to dig up a bit of information.  Round Hill Originals was a non-profit group that was raising money for various charities and cultural groups.  I found where they helped pay for the relocation of an endangered historical building.  They provided a chapel at a Boy Scout camp.

The first reference that Lynne located was 1954, and the last was 1967.  In December, 1967 the group held a  “Mistletoe Mart” in which they sold “sweaters, costumes, and dresses.”

What I’ve not been able to find out is if the group actually decorated the items themselves, or if they bought them to resell.  The work is quite detailed, and is expertly done, so it does not appear that this was just an amateur craft co-op.

I’m sure the answer is out there, and to hopefully hurry up the information trail I have an email in to the Greenwich Historical Society.  Stay tuned.

The sweater is currently for sale in Emily’s Etsy shop.  All the photos are copyright of Virgin Vintage.  Please do not copy.

13 Comments

Filed under Curiosities, Vintage Clothing

13 responses to “Round Hill Originals Decorated Sweater

  1. Hi: Really interesting post! I grew up in Greenwich, CT in the Round Hill neighborhood and just posted to a Greenwich Facebook page to see if anyone recalls this. There were many talented women in the area who made things and often sold them at an annual Christmas Fair so I’m pretty sure the decorations were hand done. Will keep you posted if I get any further info. Love your blog.

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  2. What a wonderful find…like to know more re: Round Hill

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  3. Lynne

    Lizzie, After the initial inquiry to the VFG I continued to search a bit more and I found an obituary for a Greenwich resident, which noted (emphasis is mine): “She also worked with the Round Hill Originals and in 1968 WAS SEWING WITH THIS GROUP when her hands were photographed and printed in the New York Times.” A little less helpful was this from a second obit, for a different resident: “While living in Greenwich, she was vice president of The Round Hill Originals and chairwoman of their Christmas workshop charity crafts sale.”

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  4. Lynne

    …and the obit snippet I quoted above led me to a 1967 article about the group, which seems to answer your question. An excerpt states: “‘We’re slave labor, that’s why we can make so much money,’ says Mrs. James Huntting Worth at her home here. She was smiling as she said it. She was also watching with pride as a group of women friends kept busy cutting and sewing at an outsized table near windows overlooking a ravine. The group, known as the Round Hill Originals, gathers at Mrs. Worth’s home on Wynnwood Road in the Round Hill section every Monday to trim cashmere sweaters. The sweaters are then sold, with the profits going to charity.”

    The lengthy article continues, with much information about the group.

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  5. Lynne

    Oh, I should have included this paragraph, too: “For housewives to sew for charity is not, in itself, unusual. What makes the Round Hill Originals different is its high level of skill and artistry…The sweaters that the group turns out can compete with those in the finest specialty shops and are priced from $59.95 to $79.95.”

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    • I found that NY Times article from 1967 — thanks for referring us to it. It really tells the whole story — even Mrs. Worth’s kids got involved! I was hoping my family might have known some of the women or their children, but I don’t think so (maybe my mom or older siblings remember some of them)…

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  6. A big thanks to Lynne, with her superior skills!

    Quite unbelievably, according to the Inflation Calculator, those sweaters would be priced at $413.04 to $550.74 today.

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  7. Wow! I’m a member of the American Sewing Guild, and we do sewing for charity…but nothing like this!

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  8. I did hear from the Greenwich Historical Society. They have a vintage scrapbook that was kept by one of the members from the 1950s through the 70s (Wonder if that NYT article is in it). If anyone is interested and is in that area, you can make an appointment to see it.

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  9. Carrie

    So interesting! Thanks Lynne and Lizzie for unearthing the backstory on this gem. The detail to the work and the imagination behind it is really phenomenal–how wonderful to think it was being done with an eye to helping others… 🙂

    ps The sweater sold already, drat!

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