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Care and Storage of Antique Clothing & Textiles

Ca 1874 2 Pc Dress

Circa 1874 Victorian Bustle Dress

First, let’s define what an antique textile is. The generally accepted definition of “antique” is any item that is over 100 years old. That makes all Victorian and Edwardian clothing antique. Clothing from the 1920s is quickly becoming antique, as well. But it just makes good common sense to include any fragile textile or garment that is collectible and/or meant to be kept over time in this definition.

When you visit my website, you will notice that with antique or particularly fragile items I state that “measurements are given for reference only since a garment of this age should not be worn”. Certainly, there are dresses that might be carefully worn such as some Edwardian era dresses and Flapper dresses. But generally speaking, 70+ year old fabrics will not hold up well to wear. Remember, once an antique dress is damaged, it is gone for good and a piece of history has been lost. These items really can’t truly be repaired and they will continue to deteriorate. We can attempt to conserve what remains but we can never restore it to its original state.

The very best way to enjoy and appreciate the lovely clothing confections of times past is to collect and carefully display it. If you really want to wear an antique gown, it is best to reproduce it as faithfully as possible. It’s amazing how much you learn about fashion and the way a gown was worn just by learning how they are constructed. Reproduction sewing patterns, sized for today’s bodies are available. You can also purchase vintage patterns (mostly post 1940). If you don’t sew, I can direct you to seamstresses who specialize in historical sewing.

Let’s say you finally own that beautiful original antique gown that takes your breath away. How should you care for it, so that you can protect your investment and keep it for future generations to appreciate?

Here are some important things to consider:
• Air
• Light
• Clean
• Storage Method

AIR – Antique garments should be kept in the type of air that makes YOU comfortable! Not too humid and not too dry. Old clothing is often found stored in the worst possible location of a home – the attic or the basement! Try to find a storage area in a closet on an inside wall of your living space.

Humidity will cause the most visible damage quickly. Obviously musty smell and mold are caused by humidity and dampness. Extremely dry air causes fibers to become more brittle.

LIGHT – UV rays aren’t good for you and they aren’t good for fabrics, either! Light causes fading and also contributes to the breakdown of fibers.

Obviously, if you store your antique gown in a closet, you have the ultimate protection from UV rays. But if you choose to “store” your dress by displaying it in your home be sure to keep it out of direct sunlight. Even filtered sunlight can be harmful, so it’s best to keep it as far away from a window as you possibly can, unless you are fortunate enough to have windows with UV filtering. (The effectiveness of UV filtered windows does decrease over time, so it’s still best to keep your antiques away from windows.) Try to find a dark corner and maybe even place a dressing screen between your dress and the window – just another layer of protection.

Did you know that florescent lights also give off UV rays? Now that many people are switching to the CF light bulbs, this is something to keep in mind. Although they do give off small amounts of UV rays, incandescent bulbs are much safer for textiles. Use them in your lamps where you display your antique fabrics.

If you have small antique items such as fans, handkerchiefs, gloves, lace and similar items grouped together in a shadowbox display, be sure they are protected with UV protected glass.

CLEAN – I know, that seems like a no-brainer, doesn’t it? But we’re talking about a little more than the obvious dirt and dust … from which, of course, you should protect your antique gowns.

Unless you happen to find antique clothing in an attic, you will probably only have to deal with the issue of common house dust and body oils from handling.

If you display your gown in your home it will, without a doubt, collect dust. Simply add a can of compressed air to your housecleaning supplies and every week when you clean, carefully spritz the air across the areas where dust collects. (If you clean more often than that, shame on you. If you do it once every 6 months, I won’t tell on you if you won’t tell on me!)

It’s also advisable to use 100% white cotton gloves that fit you … well, “like a glove”! This prevents the transfer of anything that might be on your hands to your textile. If you are uncomfortable handling your textile with gloved hands, at least make sure to wash your hands and rinse well with clear water. It’s best to air dry your hands because traces of fabric softener will remain on your hand towels and end up on your hands. Picky, picky stuff, eh?

You’ll also want to display your antique textiles away from kitchens, where they would be exposed to grease and chemicals in the air. And of course, the bathroom with its high humidity would be a bad idea. But don’t forget your dressing table area. Perfume overspray, hairspray, cosmetics … there are a lot of things that can stain and damage your textiles.

If you do come across some antique clothing that is old, dusty, and musty there are a lot of things that need to be done to preserve it. There are specific ways to clean items that have been ignored for a century or so. They can be very detailed and care should be exercised when doing so. The Costume Society of America does have a specialized booklet entitled “Your Vintage Keepsake – A CSA Guide to Costume Storage and Display” that you can order through their website.

One more word about cleaning antique textiles: The dry cleaner can be your best or worst friend. It depends on the age and fabric content of your item.

“Dry” cleaning really isn’t. Your clothing is just being washed in chemicals. Yikes! Antique textiles are really too fragile to come into contact with chemicals and some lighter fabrics have even been known to have dark spots appear from being dry cleaned. Also, traces of the chemicals will remain in the textile after cleaning and will contribute to deterioration.

That said, the dry cleaner can be your best friend prior to storing modern synthetic fabrics. They’re already mostly chemical anyway! What you don’t want to do is store a special dress, like your wedding gown, with even a tiny spot of champagne or cake frosting because the stain will eventually turn brown and the sugars are food that attracts critters – the rodent kind AND the insect kind. Don’t pay extra to have your gown put in a box with a viewing window and blue tissue paper. Why? The window allows destructive light in and the blue dye on the paper can transfer to your white gown, and it really does not prevent yellowing at all!

STORAGE — There are a couple different ways to store your antique clothing and textiles. The safest, most conservation-minded method is flat storage in acid-free containers. The good news is that most people find it easier to store boxes than to find hanging space in closets.

We are hearing a lot about acid-free papers and “archival quality” items for heirloom documents and scrapbooking, now, but it is equally important to use proper conservation materials with your textiles. Acid-free cardboard boxes and papers are the most common materials used for textile storage and protection.

When a product is said to be “acid-free” it means that it is made without acid producing contents such as lignin, which comes from wood pulp. Acid-free products have a neutral pH unless calcium carbonate has been added to make them alkaline, and then they are called “buffered”. Buffered storage is good for plant based fibers such as cotton and linen. “Non-buffered” remains completely neutral and is good for storage of protein (animal) fibers such as wool and silk.

Since many antique fabrics contain a blend of plant and protein fibers, we recommend the use of non-buffered papers. Non-buffered papers are safe for storing all types of fibers.

Plastic storage containers are generally considered inappropriate for textile storage because many are made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which is not chemically stable. Dry cleaning bags, garment bags, and totes are quite often made of PVC. Polypropylene and polyethylene are acceptable plastics for archival storage, but since not all plastics are labeled, it’s safer to stick with cardboard, which “breathes” as well.

Cedar chests may repel moths and carpet beetles, but as a chest ages, the oils that produce the distinctive aroma dissipate and the less it repels insects. At the same time, the wood gives off acid as it ages, just the way an untreated cardboard box would. So while we love cedar chests and the memories they represent, they’re not really good storage for your true antique textiles.

Sometimes we have heirloom wedding gowns with accessory items their owners wish to store with the gown. Leathers, plastics, and synthetic fabrics and other items should be stored separately from textiles. To be sure that the items are kept together for posterity, simply note on the outside of the storage boxes information to tell future generations that items belong together.

You’ve probably heard that you should roll quilts to store them, and this is also a good idea for storing shawls, scarves, and handkerchiefs. Dresses aren’t so easy to roll, so we carefully fold them, padded between layers with acid-free tissue paper. It is also recommended to re-fold once a year, which also gives you the opportunity to inspect your gown for any insects or other problems that may have surfaced over time.

Should you decide to store your antique gown on a hanger, first consider the weight of the item. Mid-19th century and earlier dresses were usually made in one piece and had a small loop sewn at the waistband for hanging on a peg. Some of these dresses have a lot of heavy fabric in the skirt and can do some serious damage to the shoulder area of a dress when placed on a hanger today. Newer “antique” gowns, such as beaded silk Flapper dresses, are extremely heavy due to enormous amounts of glass beading. The threads holding these beads are now about 90+ years old and the stress of this kind of weight is magnified by gravity when stored on a hanger. It also puts the weight of all the glass beads on the shoulders, when on a hanger, so tearing is a danger when stored in this manner.

If you must hang an antique garment for storage always, ALWAYS use a padded hanger. Always! I can’t tell you how many garments I have been offered that are damaged beyond saving by hangers. You can pad a regular hanger with 100% cotton batting, covered with 100% cotton knit or muslin for the very best padded hanger. In a pinch, you can buy the satin covered padded hangers and recently I’ve found that Martha Stewart has a line of 100% cotton canvas covered hangers, which are preferable to synthetic satin. I don’t know what the content of the padding is so I would not be comfortable in stating that they would be of archival quality, but if you just can’t get around to making your own these are a pretty decent second choice.

Next, you need to make a muslin cover for the garment out of 100% cotton fabric that you’ve laundered (no fabric softener!) a couple of times. Just sew up your own garment bag with ties instead of a zipper.

What about storing your antique gown and displaying it at the same time?

Not a bad idea, as long as you remember to keep it out of direct sunlight, do the dusting thing AND don’t try to fasten a gown with a 22” waist over a dress form with a 26” waist! Ouch!

Dress forms are very hard to find that are small enough to properly display an antique gown. We’ve found some “junior” sized dress forms, presumably for use when sewing for teens, that have worked fairly well. But the best dress form is made with a soft 100% cotton body. The bodies are made of 100% cotton batting with 100% cotton knit covers so you can squish them down to almost any size. They can also be padded in the bust and hip areas.

And finally – one last thing to consider when thinking about the proper care of antique clothing: the decision to wear or not wear them. It is a very personal decision and one that can only be made by the owner of the garment. I think you know where I stand on this issue.  But here are some thoughts on the subject:

As modern women, we just don’t know how to wear the clothing as it was meant to be worn. And frankly, most of us are not nearly small enough. The size of our bodies today and the fact that we are used to total freedom of movement are, in my opinion, probably the biggest factors contributing to the deterioration of antique clothing that is worn.

Consider this:

The Victorian and Edwardian woman was corseted in some manner since her childhood and was accustomed to the limited movement. She did not necessarily feel constrained by her corset, bustle or petticoats. This is the life she knew.

Today, we are accustomed to moving freely – bending at the waist, twisting and turning, raising our arms, lifting and so forth. Our foremothers probably only enjoyed that freedom in their nightgowns.

So — IF you choose to wear an antique garment that you own:

DO make certain your own measurements are smaller than that of the dress. Respect the age of the fabric. It WILL be fragile, to some extent. If you attempt to wear an antique dress and your body is too large for the dress size, pulling on the fabric can seriously damage or destroy it. If you barely fit the dress, your movement can cause the same damage. So just be respectful. 

DO wear newly made undergarments proper to the period of your dress! They truly are the “foundation” for any antique OR vintage clothing you wear. Wearing the same type and amount of undergarments that the original owner of a dress wore will not only help you get the realistic look but the undergarments themselves will help protect your investment in an antique garment in the same way the undergarment protected the garment when it was new.

• A chemise or slip protects the inside of a garment from perspiration and body oil. A chemise is meant to be worn next to your skin and will protect YOU from your corset! A slip is worn over a girdle.
• A corset or girdle not only provides the proper shape, but it helps you to move in the way the garment was meant to be worn. When properly fitted – and proper fit IS the key – a corset is not uncomfortable unless it is tight laced. (Tight lacing presents certain dangers to health and Victorian women were warned of the hazards.)
• A bustle, if appropriate to the period of the dress, will provide the proper shape and keep dress hems from excess wear by holding them at the appropriate length so as not to drag (obviously, this does not apply for dresses with intentionally long trains).

As the lucky owner of an antique textile, we hope this information will help you preserve it for many, many years to come!

Art Deco Beauty in Vintage Jewelry – Natty Creations Scarf Holder

I love Art Deco … anything and everything Art Deco! From architecture to fashion to vehicles … I just love it!

It reflects back to a time when “progress” was the be all – end all. Everything was meant to be faster, streamlined to get there quickly. As always, humankind over-did it and now humankind is trying to find a way to slow. it. down. NOW!

Another thing I love is finding something new and different – to me, anyway. I’m a research-aholic. So when I came across this incredibly pretty, at first glance – brooch, I was thrilled to discover that it wasn’t just a brooch. First, I thought it might be a hair barrette. That is, until I decided that big, long pin stem on the back would probably cause just a little bit of discomfort as it pierced through one’s scalp. Definitely not a barrette.

1930s Natty Creations Scarf Holder

1930s Natty Creations Scarf Holder

The fun part is that it is signed Natty Creations and the patent number is stamped onto the back. A little bit of searching and I found the patent, filed on December 29, 1936 by Nat Levy. It’s officially called a “scarf holder”.

1930s Natty Creations Scarf Clip Brooch Patent Full Pg 11140

1930s Natty Creations Scarf Clip Brooch Patent Full Pg 11140

Pin it to the front of your jacket or blouse, then the two leaves are on springs so fold those over the top of your scarf and the whole thing stays neatly in place and won’t slide off! Pretty nifty, I’d say! Especially when the scarf holder is a beautiful brooch set with sparkling crystal clear rhinestones and ruby red glass baguettes!

1930s Natty Creations Rhinestone and Red Baguette Scarf Holder

1930s Natty Creations Rhinestone and Red Baguette Scarf Holder

While it was easy enough to find the patent information, I wasn’t able to find much about Nat Levy. According to The Magic of Mandle by Lucille Tempesta and Marcia Brown, Nat Levy and Urie Mandle became partners in around 1938 forming the Urie Mandle Corporation to make costume jewelry. Nat Levy, based on the date of the patent, obviously was making jewelry under the name “Natty Creations” prior to joining Mandle. The Urie Mandle Corporation is said to have been extremely successful but not long-lived. The company closed sometime during World War II, according to Researching Costume Jewelry.

I’m going to keep my eyes peeled for more information about Nat Levy. It seems a shame that the creator of this practical and beautiful piece of jewelry seems to have disappeared into the pages of time. If you have more info about Mr. Levy, please be sure to leave a comment!

New Year’s SALE at Belle à Coeur!

Yes, it’s that wonderful time of the year. The time when, due to the flip of yet another calendar page, we humans think we will start afresh. (Ok, I know … most of us actually have to hang up an entirely new calendar, but let’s just go with the flow here.)

I’m not. I started on December 27th thinking I’ll do that afresh starting thing EARLY! That’s right – early. I’ve never been early for anything in my life before, so let’s try that. Guess what. The best laid plans … (wait, how many years has that been in my first post of the year?)

So now I’m resolving … late … I feel like myself again … to never repaint another room after a child leaves home. No more. Never again. Just close that door. The room doesn’t exist. No more thinking about the wonderful adult-y things (out of the gutter, kiddies – I’m thinking OFFICE things) I can do with that room. Nope.

Good news – I think I can keep that resolution. That was the last one to finally move out. Whee! (Boo hoo!) Whee! (Boo HOO!) Note to self: change locks so they can’t get back in and hang a fake address on the door to confuse them. Muahaha! Actually, I do like my (now) adult kids. They work for food. They also work for their own rent, which keeps them out of my house and in their own. Which is why I am standing at the top of a ladder cussing like a sailor, dribbling paint down my arm.

I hate painting. Not only do I hate painting, but more than that, I hate the crap that happens because you’re painting. That doesn’t even count the part about discovering that the paint color makes you want to start painting black specks on it because all you can think of is mint chocolate chip ice cream. I like mint chocolate chip ice cream, but prefer it in my mouth and not on the wall that I was planning to appear as light sage green. Oops. And because everything is out of the room and there is new, fresh, clean paint on the wall every stinking flaw stands out like a huge pimple on Abe’s nose on Mt. Rushmore.

Like that big red Kool-aid stain on the carpet that I tried to get out and made worse. And the blinds I tried to clean but discovered I don’t even want to try to figure out what that is that is splashed across them. Fortunately, both are about 35 years old – we’re pretty sure they came original to the house. The carpet padding is essentially gone. So guess what? Now we need new carpet and blinds. (See paragraph 5, sentence 2.)

What does this mean to you? It means I’M HAVING A SALE! Take 15% off (that’s for 2015 – remember, I’m late for everything) your order totaling over $50. Use Coupon code PAINT. This sale will be good until midnight, Eastern Time, on Thursday, January 15, 2016.

Happy New Year … Just a Couple Months Late!

Happy New Year! Gotcha! I’m late. It seems every day I come up with a subject to add to my blog, but going full speed ahead, I don’t stop to write it down. (I truly *am* sorry – I’ll get that death by corset article up soon!) I’m just going to just do a quick little update right now to let you all know what’s going on.

The good news is that I’m feeling pretty healthy and only gained back 5 lbs after the holidays and that I’ve got lots of great plans for my shops this year, including the addition of a booth in a new, local antique mall! For now, the majority of things in my mall space are antiques. But I have some vintage jewelry there, and vintage sewing things, hats, purses … vintage accessories — and there’s much more to come.

I’m planning on making a theme for jewelry each month – both at the mall and on the website here. Right now, I’m featuring green jewelry for St. Patrick’s day. Around March 18th, I’ll change over to spring pastels. Watch my Facebook page to see when the themes change and what the new theme will be. (And, when you “Like” my page, be sure to also click on “get Notifications” so you are more likely to see when I post. Facebook only allows between 5% and 10% of my followers to see anything I post!)

Working on the mall booth has taken me off my “routine” plan for a few weeks, but we still have lots of wonderful things to add to the website. Just a couple weeks ago, I added this great Juliana bracelet with faux hematite navettes , sparkling crystal rhinestones, and gold filigree beads. Definitely droolworthy! And there’s more where that came from!

Around Thanksgiving last year, we finally got our antiques website – Craig Antiques – back up and running. It’s still a little sparse, but good things are worth waiting for. I’m really excited about some of the great things planned for the site. There is a blog with the antiques website where I get to share a little bit more information about our antiques. I hope you’ll can stop by and hopefully learn some interesting information about different antiques, like this one about Old Paris Porcelain.

And don’t forget to keep an eye on our Etsy shop because we’re constantly adding lots of fun vintage fashion. There’s a little peek of some of the things you can find there in the right sidebar.

Were People Really So Much Smaller in the Victorian Era?

Wow. Once again, I must apologize for not posting. I have a good excuse this time. I spent some time in the hospital, lost a bit of weight, and now I have to rebuild my energy. To tie this into vintage clothing – I can wear my vintage dresses again! But I don’t recommend disease for weight loss. Although health, nutrition, and lifestyles are among the many reasons antique and vintage clothing is considered so tiny today.

“People were so much smaller back then!” One thing about working in a retail setting, I heard that statement AT LEAST once a day.

I used to display antique dresses for sale in my antiques shop. Waaay back when I first opened my shop, I thought that people really wanted to learn about these beauties so whenever someone would utter those words I tried to use the opportunity to talk about their history. Who can resist talking about them?

From the Way Back Machine:  Antique Dresses displayed in my shop back in 2004

From the Way Back Machine: Antique Dresses displayed in my shop back in 2004

Nine times out of ten the exchange would go like this:

Visitor: Oh my! Have you seen the size of that waist?
Me: Um … (thinking to myself – yes, I dressed the dress form … how do I answer this one?) Yes. It’s a lovely dress isn’t it?

Visitor: People were so much smaller back then. How horrible it would be to wear a corset!
Me: Actually, a properly fit corset is not uncomfortable at all and females wore corsets from such a young age that their bodies and minds were used to them.

Visitor: They were shorter back then, too.
Me: Not necessarily. I’m 5’ 1” and all these dresses are too long for me. The shoulders on the dress forms are all set higher than my shoulders are – in heels!

Visitor: (blank stare) (silence) Well, ALL these dresses are so tiny!
Me: There can be many reasons for that. Think of your own closet. Have you saved a dress or two from the past? What dresses were they?

Visitor: Only my wedding dress.
Me: That’s pretty typical. We tend to save a dress worn at a special occasion or time of our life. USUALLY that’s when we’re young and … well, at our smallest adult size.

In the 19th century it wasn’t uncommon for a young lady to be married in a new “best dress” instead of a special, white wedding dress. The newly married lady would then probably continue to wear this “best dress” for special occasions and to church on Sunday. It probably wasn’t long before the bride became pregnant with her first child and .. before long she couldn’t wear it and put it away to wear after the baby came. For many reasons, that dress might not come out of storage and these are the wonderful, near perfect dresses we love so much today.

As time passed, new dresses that were at least somewhat larger (you know, the “huge” ones with the 28” waist LOL) were made and remade into more current styles. Lots of bodices still exist without matching skirts because the skirts had larger spans of fabric that could be used to make other clothing – probably for children – when they became worn or stained. And sadly, a greater number of women died at a younger age then and it’s likely that their clothing was put away and left for sentimental reasons.

There are many other factors that contribute to our larger sizes such as better nutrition, portion sizes, and our sedentary lifestyles. Plus, the shape of a corseted body is much different than the natural shape our bodies take today.

Visitor: ZZZzzzzZZZZzzzzZZZZzzz……

After having this exchange with few variations over a period of years, the exchange has become much more concise.

Visitor: Oh my! Have you seen the size of that waist? People were so much smaller back then.
Me: (Smile) Well, they never met a Big Mac.
Visitor: (Smile) That’s true!

Visitor: I wouldn’t wear a corset. That would be so painful!
Me: (Smile)

I’ll share the death by corset article next time ….

A Little Bit of History on Hillcraft & Castlecraft Jewelry

A few years ago, my website was set up differently than it is now. There was an area – kind of like a landing page – for each category. I enjoyed having the opportunity to give a little bit of history or general information about the items within that category. When we remade our website a couple years ago, the area available for this was greatly reduced. I’m going to be putting those pages back together here in my blog and I hope you find them interesting and useful.

Vintage Castlecraft Moonglow Earrings & Necklace

Vintage Castlecraft Moonglow Earrings & Necklace

I’m going to start with Hillcraft and Castlecraft jewelry because it has an interesting history and it also has a unique feature in its design. Both companies hand made their jewelry in central Indiana. As a proud Indiana native, I have a warm spot in my heart for anything made by either company.

The jewelry is high quality costume jewelry. Czech glass stones, beads, buttons, and Swarovski crystals were used in many of their items. Neither company signed their jewelry, but it is usually very easy to identify. Using specially designed gold filled wire, the earring “clips” the company created were quite unique, as they slip on to the ear and are worn slightly at an angle, rather than having a hinged clip or screwback. Many people consider them to be more comfortable than the usual earring clip back. Because of the earrings’ distinctive clip design, many necklaces and bracelets may be identified by finding the matching earrings, although the company also used unusual clasps on their necklaces and bracelets, too.

Hillcraft & Castlecraft Slide On Clip

Hillcraft & Castlecraft Slide On Clip

Hillcraft jewelry was made in Rockville, Indiana from the early 1950s and into the 1990s.
Owned originally by Allen Chamberlain, Bill May, and Charlie Ellis, the jewelry was made at the Indiana State Tuberculosis Sanatorium by patients there as well as by a few company employees. Eventually Charlie Ellis left Hillcraft and started his own jewelry company – Castlecraft, which was based in Greencastle, Indiana. Another unique and interesting fact is that there was little or no competition between the two companies and all partners remained friends and sharing workloads, designs, and sometimes, even employees!

It seems that Hillcraft was also highly unusual in that if a customer ever lost an earring, it was only necessary for the owner to send it to the company and they would replace it. If the earring was no longer in their inventory, they would even re-create a piece in order to match the remaining earring as closely as possible. Both the new earring and the old were cleaned and returned as a pair to the customer.

Hillcraft and Castlecraft jewelry were never sold in stores. The jewelry was sold either through clubs or as fund raisers. Hillcraft was also sold at the Covered Bridge Festival in Rockville, Indana.

For a more complete history of Hillcraft jewelry, check out Nancy Hopper-Cady’s site at hoppersbazaar.

**A couple years ago, I was contacted by a lady whose mother worked for Charlie Ellis. She gave me quite a bit of first hand information and permission to share it on my website. I’ll be writing that up and adding that soon.

Pop Beads Who Knew They Could Be So Elegant

Who doesn’t just love pop beads? If you’re old enough, you either wore them as contemporary fashion or maybe you played with your mother’s. All the different colors to arrange in a zillion different ways!

My friends at the Jewelry Ring recently were discussing vintage plastic pop beads that look like faceted crystal called Crystelle Poppits and it carried me off to do some research.

Crystelle Poppits Blue Richelieu

Crystelle Poppits Blue Richelieu

Crystelle Poppits Pink Richelieu

Crystelle Poppits Pink Richelieu

I’ve had a few of these necklaces in my shop and never knew that they were made by Richelieu in the early 1960s. Apparently only the earrings were signed – I had no idea there were matching earrings! The necklaces came with hangtags, which of course, are almost always missing.

Always curious when I find out new things, I went wandering around the internet to see what I could see. It always excites me when I find something that documents when a piece of vintage jewelry or clothing was made, like a catalog or newspaper advertisement, and I found one.

This time it is a newspaper article from May 7, 1962. To quote the article, “These are Richelieu’s new Crystelle poppits in clear or colors, with matching eardrops. Can be lengthened or shortened, at will, into choker, bib, rope, even bracelet.” So we know that these unique pop beads date to spring of 1962!

The entire page is just full of more great fashion information from early 1962 – mostly about summer jewelry trends, the latest styles from Napier, Marvella, Trifari, and Kramer. I am absolutely drooling over the fringed earrings and RING(!) from Napier. I only found one pair of vintage fringe earrings signed Napier when I went on the hunt but I really can’t tell if these are the same as the ones in the article. I also love the ad for the Anne Adams pattern. Check it out – it’s a little grainy but readable.  “Cool Look in Jewelry Takes Over for Summer


A New Year and New Ideas

Happy New Year, friends!! I hope your holiday season was full of love, fun, and family! Mine was and I am so very grateful.

Now it’s time to begin the process of refusing to do New Year’s resolutions. Nope. No resolutions for me. GOALS. This year, it’s goals for me.

2013 was a struggle for me both physically and here at the shop. I was in the body shop off and on all year with carpal tunnel surgery on both hands in April followed by minor knee surgery on both knees in October and … yes, DECEMBER. Less than 2 weeks before Christmas. Eek!

We began to rebuild the website in early 2012, which turned out to be a near disaster by last Christmas and by January 2013, I had a new web developer who had to try to follow the tracks of the last one – a difficult job, to say the least. But by April we were in pretty good shape again. Then in the late summer/early fall, all sorts of other changes involving searches hit the fan both on my website and in my Etsy shop that left us scrambling once again to get things working properly. Since this involved my web guy, I had him add the ability to accept credit cards without having to use Paypal only to find that he forgot to take it out of test mode – which accounted for the complete silence on my website until about a month had passed and a nice customer notified me of the problem. After waging war with the set up for credit cards, I finally gave up and turned it off, so for the time being we are back to using Paypal as a means to accept credit cards.

My nerves of steel are now just steel wool.

I confess …. I took the last couple of weeks off. Brain cells needed time to regenerate. And my knee needed time to heal. The knee is much better now.

So, without further ado, here are some things I hope to accomplish this year:

• Now that the website is running smoothly, expect to see LOTS more clothing, jewelry, and accessories added. Our inventory is overflowing and I’m really excited to have more ability to offer it much more quickly.
• With all the changes, I intend to add more to my blog on a much more consistent basis. My goal is to post at least once a month.
• This year, I’m planning on having “secret sales”. Keep an eye out for special coupon codes here and on our Facebook page.
• There is a “Gallery” section on the website for everyone to enjoy the “best of the best” antique and vintage clothing that has sold. It’s a little clunky and I have a few ideas on changing the format to better showcase and separate the clothing from the jewelry.
• Lose 20 lbs. It wouldn’t be a new year if someone around here wasn’t starting a diet! I want to be able to wear my vintage dresses without having to use a power winch to squash me into a steel corset so something will fit. Ouch. Failing that, I commit to finally buying or making a new corset that actually fits. I’ve been pig headed, refusing to admit I wasn’t losing weight and therefore I haven’t been wearing a properly fit corset. Shame. On. Me.

Now then … This is going to be a GREAT year! Cuz I said so. So STAY TUNED!!

A Modern Day Ironrite to Keep Your Vintage Christmas Aprons Crisp and Pretty

Guess what I found??? A modern day Ironrite! Remember my post with the instructional video showing how to use it? Well, now you can use all that knowledge after Santa brings you your very own Miele Rotary Iron. Santa will only have to shell out around 2,000 bucks but you’re worth it! AND he’ll get his boxers nice and crisply ironed along with all your table linens. You KNOW Martha Stewart’s housekeeper has one of these things.

One of my favorite things to do during the Christmas season is to visit the Williams-Sonoma store and drool over all the wonderful kitchen and household goodies. Yes, it’s a bit embarrassing to be followed around with a mop because I want it ALL, but I don’t care! This year, I’m not sure I’m going to get to actually visit the store due to having dual knee surgery so I perused the online catalog with a sponge at my chin. Not quite the same, but … I digress.

Vintage is all the rage – I always wanted to say “all the rage” – and you can see newly made (quite often in China) “vintage” aprons in malls and mega-stores like the ones at W-S.  While I obviously love W-S, I want to take a moment to remind you to shop for true, REAL vintage!  Many times, you’ll find the real deal is less expensive, even with shipping, more well-made, and real vintage is almost one-of-a-kind!

Wouldn’t you rather give (or receive!) one of these darling, real, TRUE vintage Christmas themed aprons?

Vintage Christmas Apron Novelty Gift, Holly, Berries, & Rick Rack Trim L0148

Vintage Christmas Apron Novelty Gift, Holly, Berries, & Rick Rack Trim L0148

Christmas Snowman Handkerchief Pockets L0147

Christmas Snowman Handkerchief Pockets L0147

Vintage Apron 50s Christmas Nylon Net Ribbon Trim Rick Rack Hostess Cocktail RAB

Vintage Apron 50s Christmas Nylon Net Ribbon Trim Rick Rack Hostess Cocktail RAB

Vintage 1950s Sheer Christmas Apron Flocked Christmas Wreath Candle Design EC

Vintage 1950s Sheer Christmas Apron Flocked Christmas Wreath Candle Design EC

Vintage Apron Vest Set Christmas His and Hers Red Corduroy Vest for Him Apron for Her

Vintage Apron Vest Set Christmas His and Hers Red Corduroy Vest for Him Apron for Her



Vintage Full Apron Christmas Clear Vinyl new with tag Raindeer Bells Wreath Jingle Bells

Vintage Full Apron Christmas Clear Vinyl new with tag Raindeer Bells Wreath Jingle Bells

Tales of a Tattered Victorian Skirt

Antique Black Silk Skirt C0018

Antique Black Silk Skirt C0018

You’ll probably think I’m crazy, but I love this skirt. You know why? Because it’s a survivor.

It’s just another boring black silk Victorian skirt. It might even be Edwardian or even into the early 1920s. It’s been around.

We all love the pristine, near mint antique dresses – beauty is easy to love. But this one .. THIS skirt has a story. I only wish I knew what it was.

It seems this dear skirt was re-made from another garment or that the style was updated. So that I don’t repeat myself and be boring – you can read details of some of the changes in its description: Black Silk Skirt Antique Victorian Edwardian

There are multiple period mends. I love period mends. It reminds me of the skills our grandmothers had, and how frugal they were. That doesn’t necessarily mean that this woman was poor, but this obviously wasn’t her Sunday best ! What’s wrong with a neatly mended skirt for wearing around the house, doing “light” chores? Don’t you have a faded or holey old t-shirt that you just happen to love to wear around the house?

Another period patch

Another period patch

I suppose this skirt could have been worn for mourning. It is black, after all, and not a particularly shiny black silk. It might make sense to have a black skirt tucked away for mourning purposes. It would make sense to update the style if needed and to mend it – hopefully she wouldn’t be needing it often!

It’s a huge mistake to think that an antique dress was a “mourning dress” just because it is black. Silk wasn’t washable and fabric choices were limited: silk, cotton, wool, linen. Black hides a lot of dirt and stains. It was (and is!) a popular color for non-mourning purposes.

With a 31″ waist and it could have belonged to a middle aged or older woman. I’m sure you’ve noticed the 22″ – 26″ waists most antique dresses have. That’s not to say it didn’t belong to a younger woman who didn’t subscribe to current fashion or “wasp waists”, though. Some of us just have “big bones”, too! 🙂

The length seems short, just 33″, and there is no train or extra fabric for a bustle. Did she remake this skirt to wear for the days she spent sitting in her rocking chair, doing beautiful needlework or knitting? Or just sitting on the front porch, waving to the neighbors on a hot summer evening when sitting indoors was much too stifling.

The hand of the fabric is lovely, too. I wish had more expert knowledge of the type of fabrics and weaves. This isn’t at all crisp. It’s soft and must have been comfortable – her favorite skirt, so she kept repairing and remaking it. It could have started as a skirt with a small bustle and remade in the 1910s with more of a straight line and then worn into the 20s or even 30s as women at that time were prone to do. How often have you seen pictures of old ladies with their hair in a bun and a long skirt and shirtwaist .. standing next to automobile? Ok, maybe not that exact scenario but I do happen to have a couple of those in our family photos so they can’t be totally scarce! (Do you think I could put my hands on that picture right now??)

How I wish this skirt could talk … or maybe not. It would probably laugh at all the stories I’ve just made up about it!

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