Friday, August 29, 2014

Patching a Pair of 19th Century Drawers

These 19th century drawers were one of my Museum Mystery Box finds at the Kearny Museum. They are long and very full but straight-legged, which leads me to believe that they could be as early as the 1860's. There is a matching nightgown already on display, and these drawers will be added to that vignette.

First things first: the lace edging along the bottom of the legs, in a lovely grape motif, had an odd, squarish slice. It wasn't the kind of rip that occurs if the sturdy lace had caught on something; rather, it appeared that someone was trying to cut around a grape motif and didn't finish the job (thank goodness!). The cut lace was flopping down and had frayed badly over the years.

To remedy this, I decided to patch the cut using unbleached cotton muslin. Not only is unbleached cotton muslin an archival quality material, its texture and color is very similar to the beige cotton of the drawers. I made a little patch, securing the raw edges with blanket stitches. I pinned the patch to the lace and, using much care and very small stitches, sewed the lace down to the patch. By placing stitches very close to the floral, vine, and grape designs of the lace, I was able to camouflage the stitches in the design of the lace.

I'm very proud of the finished result. As you can see in the finished photos, including the first and last photo of this post (the leg of the drawers on the right side), the patch and tear are nearly invisible. On several occasions, I have attempted to show others the patch but am unable to find it after the first try!

My next post will discuss these drawers in greater detail, including their cleaning process.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Museum Mystery Boxes: 1920s Metallic Dancing Shoes

Picture this:

I walk into the Kearny Museum's attic (always very cautious because that place is so terrifying not even spiders want to live there), looking for somewhere to store a Scottish kilt that was recently donated. The shelving units have been newly labelled by the Museum Committee. Sports Memorabilia, Lighting, Local Artists, Faux Greenery, Victorian Dresses...Victorian Dresses??

And there on the "Victorian Dresses" shelving unit were indeed boxes labeled all sorts of crazy things like "Fur Capelet," "Chef's Hat and Utensils," and "Black Tafata[sic] Gown."

Uh-oh. I had never seen any of these boxes or their supposed treasures. At once I felt both ecstatic and panicked. What would I find in these mystery boxes?

I pulled out one of the smallest boxes and carefully opened the lid, revealing a jumble of hot-pink tulle (which would be a recurring theme for the rest of the mystery boxes), yellowed napkins and dirty plastic bags. More digging and...ooooh, shiny!

Well what do you know, crammed inside a sandwhich bread bag (also a recurring theme for the mystery boxes, including bags of buns) was a pair of glittering, silver metallic 1920s evening shoes!

They are accompanied by a faded display card, and were at one point in time displayed with the beaded 1920s dress. The 1920s dress was also donated by Mrs. William Schreiber.

Indeed, the strap has an interesting mechanism wherein a metal hook is latched over the buckle. This fastening technique is still in use and I own a pair of modern heels that fasten this way.

Unfortunately, the shoes are in very poor condition. They must have been truly loved because the heel cap has been worn all the way through to the nail! The sole is peeling back at the front and heel, and the metallic leather is flaking and cracked. There are several slices in the leather, the largest being on the inner left side of the right shoe. The rhinestoned buckles are also missing one or two stones, and the insoles have begun to detach.

The shoes were stored and likely displayed without the necessary support. The lack of foot-shaped support to hold out the shoe possibly led to the irreparable splits in the leather. I will be making muslin-shaped "feet" stuffed with polyfill to support the shoe and its straps. The shoes will then be displayed alongside the beaded 1920s dress in its glass case.

Stay tuned for dozens of more Museum goodies, including an 1867 mourning dress, an enormous tatted lace collar, children's button-up boots, a fur capelet, a fur muff of exaggerated Edwardian proportions, 19th century drawers, a taxidermied bird, an unusual piece of embroidery, beaded gloves, and much more!

Also, the inexplicable and widespread use of bread bags and hot pink tulle for storing antique pieces will be explored.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Edwardian Petticoat with Cluny Lace

This Edwardian petticoat, c. 1900-1909, was tucked away in a box in the Kearny History Museum's storage. It has since been wrapped in layers of acid-free tissue paper and stored in an archival quality box.

This petticoat is made of a fine yet sturdy cotton, which may have originally been a truer, brighter white. Its volume is achieved through shaped panels, or gores, and a large, gathered ruffle along the bottom of the skirt. The side seams of the petticoat are constructed with the flat-felled method for strength and durability.

The petticoat has one row of fine, [presumably] cluny lace insertion, and a matching, wide band of cluny lace trim. Both the insertion and the trim appear to have been applied to the petticoat by hand.

The ruffle has three lines of gathering stitches to create fullness. The entire petticoat, except for the decoration, appears to be machine-sewn.

There is an additional, shorter ruffle on the inside of the bottom ruffle which adds even more shape to the petticoat. This ruffle appears to have been gathered with two lines of machine stitching.

I apologize if any of the pictures make the details of this garment blurry. Photographing white on white can be rather challenging! If you would like me to re-photograph specific areas of this petticoat, please don't hesitate to let me know!

The petticoat has a large tear along the back, just under the placket. I wonder if the wearer tore this while walking, or if an inconsiderate perambulator stepped on her skirts!

The back panels of the petticoat are very tightly gathered with cartridge pleats to the waistband. The waistband is narrow, and remnants of a cord/drawstring closure exist.


Waist: approximately 26 "
Width of Hem: approximately 95.5 "

Note: All measurements are approximate; I didn't have a table or tape measure large enough to spread the whole petticoat flat and measure it. Please feel free to let me know if you would like more detailed measurements.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Completed 1870s Bustle

I began the bustle in September of 2012, and worked on it on and off throughout the past few months, finally finishing it in February. It is made in an unbleached muslin from Truly Victorian Petticoat with Wire Bustle 101. I made the ruffled overlay because the bustle will be used in my next mount at the Kearny History Museum: an 1870's olive green silk gown! The ruffled overlay will help support the heavy weight of the gown, of which the bodice back and skirt back are cut all in one piece.

I loved the pattern: the paper was thick and it was easy to fold back the sizes I didn't need. The bustle went together less than smoothly though...bottom line, don't tackle a new pattern with boning when exhausted!

It started going downhill with the boning. I sewed the horizontal casings to the wrong side, causing great frustration when it was time to apply the arched bone.

Then, with the ruffled overlay, I cut the ruffles all the same width...and sewed them on...then D'OH spent hours unpicking stitches. Finally I got the ruffles right, but realized that my overlay had one less layer of ruffles than it was supposed to. By that time I didn't want to take everything apart again, and left it. Then, I was possessed to unpick the waistband and sandwich the overlay between the waistband....what? For the sake of sanity, don't sew when tired! Because of silly mistakes, I used up 3 spools of thread: first white, then beige, then darker beige!

Side Back
My biggest error was in sewing the overlay to the waistband. I now realize that it should've been sewn above the first bone. I'm not concerned about the short overlay, however, because I can supplement the shortage of ruffles with netting and more muslin when I'm mounting the gown.

There is no waistband fastening as the bustle will be sewn to the dress form, preventing points of stress between the silk gown and the hook.

Ack! Another whicker dress form! This gown already has a dress form being carved for it.
This is my first time using a cover photo for a post. What do you think?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Blog Update

The About the Museum page has finally been updated!

I hope the page is an informative and entertaining read!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Museum Mysteries: Grimy Edwardian Petticoat

If you remember, underneath the 1909-14 Silk Wedding Gown was a surprisingly filthy Edwardian petticoat. The petticoat did nothing for the shape of the dress, but it seemed to have somehow absorbed whatever was leaking from the ceiling onto the dress...

Interestingly, the upper folds and waistband seem to be the worst areas affected by the moisture damage, but the entire petticoat is dirty. This leads me to believe that it was left dirty before it was even displayed under the wedding gown (Hint: don't put dirty petticoats under antique gowns).

The material was finely machine-pleated to a yoke.
The lace trim has also torn from the seam in a few places.
Submerged in water. I'm not sure what the accession number (written in marker) means.
I had to wash it before storing it. I took a deep black basin from the staff kitchen of the library and soaked the petticoat in water. I let it soak for 24 hours and tried not to agitate it, since it had a few tears. The petticoat really needs a decent wash and more time soaking (maybe some soap, too). Within minutes the water looked like urine and now I'm really curious as to what was leaking from the ceiling and what was dirtying up this petticoat!

A sample of the water after I removed the petticoat from its soak.
I was so curious, in fact, that I took a sample of the water post-wash. After about two weeks, something must've happened to all the oxygen molecules because the sealed bottle was all sucked in. Also, something rather brown and dust-like had settled at the bottom of the bottle...

My method for drying the petticoat in a limited space: folding it up and propping it on a bookstand hooked onto the drawer pulls. Unorthodox, but it worked!
The not-so cleaned definitely needs some soap and a larger washing vessel. Laying it flat to dry would also help!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Faded Wool, Silk, and Velvet Bodice c. 1905-8

The original, awkward, extremely anachronistic display of this bodice is described here. This bodice was infested with moths, so before I was able to properly store it, I had to tuck it in the freezer for a bit to kill off the moths.

This wool bodice had faded from a dark forest green to a dull moss color. The silk inset and neckband is very shattered. The neckband is trimmed with two strips of narrow black velvet ribbon. Black velvet also trims the waistband, and ends in a decorative "bow" at the left side closure. The sleeve cuffs and bodice are decorated with black velvet cut in a sharp scallop pattern. The scallops are decorated with seed beads and sequins. The bodice is lined in coral-colored cotton, black (possibly polished) cotton, and a gray floral pattern.

Fading under arm. The forest green wool faded to a soft olive shade from excessive exposure to sunlight.
The original color of the wool was preserved underneath the decorated beaded velvet "flaps."
The silk lining of the neckband and the silk inset had shattered.
The front flap is lined in coral-colored cotton. Beige bias binding encloses the seam.
Two sets of hooks and eyes in the front: on the right hand side of the "pigeon" gathers, and on the left side seam.

Black polished cotton is replaced for the green wool where the bodice fastens and overlaps.
I wonder what this loop is for?
Two hooks, presumably to secure a skirt.
Large stitches in black thread hold the gathers of the decorative velvet waistband in place.
Pleats on the elbow of the sleeve.