Recently I was lucky enough to be asked to look through a collection of antique and vintage clothing and linens. I was asked by an acquaintance of an acquaintance, so it shows how important making friends can be, even in the online world. Anyway, the clothes were the property of a woman who had been in the home economics department of a local university. She taught construction and pattern drafting.
Even though her interest in clothing and sewing was well-known, her family had no idea about the collection until after she died. Quite a few large plastic tubs were found, all neatly labeled “Antique Clothing” or “Antique Linens.” Her cousin, the administrator of the estate knew little about old clothing, and so that’s when I was called in.
Almost all the clothes were Victorian and Edwardian whites – lingerie pieces and white embroidered waists. Much of the collection was of a very high quality with all the embroidery and laces made by hand. Other pieces were more common, with little ornamentation and cheaper laces. There were chemises and nightgowns and dressing gowns and a few wonderful dresses like the one shown above.
There were vintage linens of all kinds, especially bridge tablecloths. I love this windmill one. That one blade moves to indicate the bid.
There was also a nice selection of vintage crafted handbags. The collector may have used them for inspiration, as she was a contributor to quite a few craft books that were published by Lark Books and in their magazine Fiberarts.
A big mystery was this incredible jacket. It is not embroidered, it is appliqued, and is all in wool felt. I’d never seen anything like it and would sure appreciate being enlightened.
The collector’s interests also extended into textile making, and in the basement of her house a huge loom was set up. You can also see a spinning wheel, a quilting frame and an embroidery stand. As far as the family knew, she was not actively involved in activities that would actually use these tools.
But she did sew, and this folding cutting table was in her sewing studio. That big drawer was full of vintage patterns, all neatly categorized. After much thought, I decided to buy the table, as I’ve been cutting on a folding picnic table. I’ll be reorganizing my sewing room and will show it later.
It was really a shame that the collector did not leave any information about her collection. The cousin suspects that some of them were family pieces as they were tagged with a code that included the collector’s hometown. Others still had price tags attached from where they had been purchased at an antiques store many years ago. Perhaps she used them as examples in the classes she taught. She may have used them for sewing inspiration. As a lover of textiles, maybe she just appreciated them as lovely objects.