I love antique laces. I love the extra detail in the pattern, the unusual colors, the history of previous owners and previous uses about which I speculate while I am sewing.
I love this daygown. I love the materials, the techniques, the details that I so enjoyed adding and the daydreams I entertained while fantasizing about grandchildren in my future. Can you tell I love heirloom sewing?
Yet again, this is not a modern project for an old fashioned Nana. I needed grandchildren before I realized the importance of easy care.
Through the years, I have sniffed out some incredible finds. This lace was one of them. At the end of this post, I will tell you about how I became the final owner of this unused, antique lace.
Using some pink silk floss, I smocked a simple pattern on a yoked daygown made of Capitol Imports gorgeous champagne Swiss batiste.
Just as lovely is their champagne entredeux which is inserted between the sleeves and bodice. When I have the time, I prefer to use this technique on heirloom sewn garments. When this was made, neither of my children was even married, so I had time. As a matter of fact, I had 10 years. What a long wait!!!!
Another technique that I love is hemstitching. On the collar, machine made entredeux was stitched on the seam line. Aside from each single large hole, made by as many as 13 punctures with a wing or large needle, prominent perimeter holes are made as the needle reaches outside the main hole to secure the stitch.
These holes were used to execute a perfectly spaced hand worked running stitch above the machine made entredeux. Had the holes not been threaded with floss, they would have disappeared with water or starch, applied in anticipation of pressing.
Another sweet detail of this gown is the buttons. They were purchased at a doll show and many, many times since I have regretted not buying the lot. They are actually tiny rings, covered with fabric. So embroidering on them was possible.
Since they are barely 1/4″, I found it very difficult to hold the button and still work a few French knots. My wise RN friend Suzanne suggested I use hemostats to hold the button. This tool is like a scissor handle with a tweezer tip. But it locks. So I was able to use a sewing bird to hold the hemostat and then work single thread French knots and lazy daisy leaves.
Sadly, these buttons have not held up very well. With minimal use, they have frayed. But until they get a little shabbier, I prefer them to standard pearl buttons.
They have held up better than the matching bonnet. In the center of my kitchen table, stashed safely (I thought) in a tall trifle dish awaiting hand laundering the next day, it was snatched from its secure haven and shredded by one or both of my two yellow lab pups.
I almost cried. All the pink lace had been used up so making a replacement is out of the question. Oh well…… In case you wonder, Ruby and Rastus, the puppies, survived the verbal thrashing I gave them. Their eyes showed great remorse and they ate hardly any other treasures after that.
Let me tell you about the lace. In an antique store across from my doctor’s office, I was killing time while he tended to an emergency. As his office is an hour from my home, I decided to check out the shop that had caught my eye so many times.
After a serious search, I found a neat old pink birdcage, which now hangs in my potting shed and charms me every time I look at it. But I just had the twitchy feeling that there was more. Or maybe there was still too much time before the doctor returned to his office.
At any rate, I looked and looked and snooped and finally, in a tattered old hatbox, I found a hank of this lace. The disinterested shop keeper had been unaware of the contents of the box and quoted me an offhand price of $1 for “the pink string.” I took my pink birdcage and my pink string and headed for my car. For that doctor appointment, I didn’t mind running late.