Posted in freckled laundry‘s “air your laundry friday” textile party. Check it out!
When I made this daygown, my daughter was certain that her unborn baby would be a girl. But alas, it was precious baby boy Alastair who arrived to fill her heart with love. So this daygown and matching bonnet hang in the closet, as yet unused.
Many years ago, when I bought the lace on this daygown, I knew it would be stitched into something for my Grandmother’s Hope Chest. Rebecca was a teenager and we often talked about heirloom clothes for her future babies. My vision was that of a white Swiss batiste daygown with a matching bonnet, all smocked in yellow and all lavishly trimmed with this gorgeous lace.
But times change and long before I began stitching, I realized my vision had to include an easy-care component. So I edited my vision, without PhotoShop, to show polycotton blend, Imperial batiste. It is of such high quality that the compromise was small. So in at least that respect, this is a modern project for an old fashioned Nana.
The hand smocked bonnet and daygown are cut from a standard pattern. The sleeves and bonnet edge are trimmed with entredeux and the fagotted lace. Through the years, I have collected some incredible heirloom goods, and this lace is one of my prizes.
The acquisition of unusual pieces like this a usually the result of good luck or a sleuth’s nose. In this case, it was luck that connected me with an elderly lady who professed to have an entire attic full of antique laces which she was willing to sell me, piece by piece.
She declared that her home was too cluttered for me visit to see the laces, but said she would bring some to me when she got a chance. We had only two visits and I never heard from her again. But this lace is one of the beauties I rescued from that scorching Florida attic.
You might have noticed that this lace is a galoon, which is a piece with two decorative edges and no straight edge for joining. They are most often used for straps on a gown or sundress. In fact, this yardage is actually two pieces of lace edging, each with a straight edge and a scalloped edge. The two straight edges are fagotted together with yellow thread.
If you look closely, you will see that the scallop is very shallow. So I treated one side as if it were a straight edge and simply zig zagged it to the entredeux with my very fine 80 wt. Madeira cotona thread. Thus, it serves as an edging.
Down the center front of the daygown is a precious strip of hand embroidery that has been in my stash for some 25 years. You may have noticed that I have frequently mentioned the time “25 years ago. ” That was the year Rebecca, my youngest, was off to kindergarten and I was at liberty to pursue my love of sewing a little more freely. So a lot happened while she was playing Ring-Around-the-Rosey.
Around that same time, an enterprising lady from Florida began importing hand embroidery from China. Apparently, she herself started this cottage industry there, supplying the embroideresses with 36” squares of Swiss batiste.
Older readers will probably remember the marking wheels that were used for marking darts. With this tool she marked off lines across the fabric, like a child’s writing paper, but at 6” intervals. The embroidery was stitched down the center of each section between the blue dots made by the wheel. The beautifully stitched goods came only in these 36” x 6” lengths or the 36” block.
The embroidered piece has a white circle placed at an appropriate place for buttonholes. So I picked out the satin stitched O–not a granito—and worked the buttonholes there. No measuring was needed.
Long before I saw these goods, I had learned that you should buy such treasures when you see them, because they may be gone forever before you know it. Sure enough, in a very short time, those pieces were unavailable, but not before I spent every dollar of my teaching money to buy several of the embroidered 36” blocks.
The patterns included white on white shadow embroidered bows and flowers, primary colored antique cars, pastel shadow worked Sunbonnet Sues, little bullion roses, trailing floral vines, flower bouquets tied up with blue ribbons and others. I have gotten so much pleasure from just looking at these for all these years that they have long since paid for themselves in entertainment value.
But finally, I am using some of them. This daygown is just the 3rd piece I have used, so I’d better get busy sewing if I want to stitch these up into heirloom projects. And if you ever see one of these hand embroidered pieces, I suggest you snatch it up.