Tag Archives: antique

The Real Thing

The real thing

The real thing

I finally got a hold of my mom’s Genuine Article Victorian Drawers (TM). ย Well, I can’t actually date them particularly well—but they’re certainly older than 1920s, and they’re almost perfectly in keeping with everything Victorian I’ve read about what drawers should be. Which doesn’t seem to have changed much over time, except possibly for length.

The Originals

The Originals

I gotta tell you, I feel pretty naughty for trying them on. The fabric’s in pretty good shape, but it still feels kinda sacreligeous.

Back view

Back view

They’re a little more snug than my pair.

closeup

closeup

The hem is a gorgeous eyelet lace, not gathered. I don’t think I could find a lace like this if I offered my firstborn child.

side by side

side by side

Here’s the two side by side. Neither of my lace additions are particularly spot on, are they?

that thing

that thing

Now, THAT, my friends, is a hand-worked buttonhole. Well, except for the frayed bit. You’d be a bit frayed, too, if you were over 100 years old.

button

button

I think I got my button just right, though.

Felled seam

Felled seam

I believe this seam was sewn by machine, then hand-felled. Yes, the Victorians are judging me for wimping out.

Length adjustment

Length adjustment

The wide tuck to the left was done before the inseam was stitched, as per all the different instructions. The one I’m holding here, though, was added after. I wonder if the seamstress thought the space needed “something” or if it was intended to shorten the length a bit?

yummy

yummy

I wish I’d done more narrow tucks, rather than three big ones, on my pair. No, I’m not re-doing them. Incidentally, the band of lace above the trimming lace is finishing the hem, exactly like the band finish on my pair except on the outside and pretty. I wish I’d thought of that one, dammit.

fabric and hand-stitching closeup

fabric and hand-stitching closeup

Both of us stitched the outside of the waistband by machine and then hand-stitched the inside. My stitches are not quite as neat and small as the Victorian’s, but they aren’t too bad.

In other news, reader Meadowsweet Child sent me some spoon busks all the way from civilization (aka Ontario*)! Woohoo! And I may have gotten a bit click-happy on Farthingales, so with any luck I’ll have some boning and things soon, too…

*It occurs to me that ordering supplies, for anything really, from Ontario is probably terribly historically accurate for early Saskatoon. Everything, even lumber, had to be shipped from out east. Then, since the railway didn’t even arrive until 1890, it had to be carted up from Moose Jaw, over 200 km.

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Wired

In lieu of actual sewing (which has consisted of two zipper repairs and a lot of daydreaming), I bring you yet another post on old sewing-related junk.

Antique Dressform

Another of those home-town resources.

A long time ago, my mother bought a dressform.

Of course, being my mother, she didn’t buy it because she was sewing, and she certainly didn’t go down to Fanny’s Fabrics and pick up some wobbly new thingy.

No, she brought this lady home from an antique store.

John Hall Dressform (The other leg says John Hall but the photo wasn’t as good.)

Some googling turned up a patent from 1881 for a very much similar form. Although not a whole lot else other than some exorbitantly priced ebay listings.

Neck & shoulder adjustable

I’m fascinated by all the varieties of fitting you could get in this. Total height is adjustable (though short, at least at the moment.) Torso length is adjustable. The skirt could be umbrella’d in or out depending on the fashion. The shoulders are adjustable. The neck is a high, solid (but adjustable) piece, for aid in fitting high collars, I suppose. There are built-in measuring tapes at waist and hips.

Hip tape measure.

And, yes, she sits around in my mother’s upstairs hall, usually sporting a hat or something. I’d be too terrified to actually use her, that’s for sure.

If you dress it…

The patent has a further measuring tape at the bust, which makes me wonder if she might have lost one there, although there’s no obvious sign of one.

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A match made in hell

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Remember those doodads I posted about last week? My research suggested they would fit a machine produced by the National Sewing Machine Company. My mother’s research uncovered two such machines in our immediate area, one in the collection of a local mini-museum my mom’s involved with, and another at a local thrift store.

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The latter came home (or at least to my Mom’s house) as my belated birthday present.

It’s an “Improved Seamstress”, which was the house brand of the old Canadian Department store, Eaton’s, manufactured by National.

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The exterior isn’t in great shape, but it runs, albeit in desperate need of a can or three of oil. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to track down anything resembling a manual for it, and I haven’t the faintest clue how to wind and insert the shuttle, never mind thread it. Hopefully it’s a sufficiently generic model that I’ll be able to figure it out.

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Perusal of my mother’s reproduction Eaton’s catalogues (what, your mother doesn’t have those?) suggests that it’s maybe younger than the 1901 catalogue but older than the 1921 catalogue, and that the “Improved Seamstress” was a bit less expensive than the actual “Seamstress”.

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It has a set of Greist attachments, similar in style to my mom’s doodads, but not quite so well-built (or perhaps that’s just ridiculously over engineered), but lacking the ruffler, though I think one was there originally. It has the shuttle and four bobbins, and an assortment of distinctly non-standard needles.

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A little bit of history

I’ve got Canada in my pocket
a little bit of history
a penny and a nickel and a quarter and a dime mean a lot to you and me…

Oops, sorry. Channeling the children’s lit (or in this case, songs) again there.

The Box

The Box

Sometime in the early seventies, as I understand it, my mother attended the auction of the estate of an elderly relative. One of the things she bought was an old wooden box full of buttons, which had belonged to the wife of this elderly relative, my grandmother’s great aunt (great-grandmother’s aunt?)
Even at this time, the little stash was “vintage”—the newest buttons were probably added sometime in the 40s, and most of the collection dates to much earlier. Put it this way: although there are plastic buttons, the majority of the collection is shell, metal, horn, and even glass. There are a lot of boot buttons—the tiny toggle buttons you see on Victorian and Edwardian women’s footwear.

My mother and Syo hard at work

My mother and Syo hard at work

Although I’ve been familiar with this collection all my life, when we went to visit my mother this weekend she had pulled it out, so I got the chance to document some of it for your (I hope) viewing pleasure. We also, as one must when playing with button stashes, did some sorting, as well as some unraveling of matted clumps of button-groups. Unfortunately my camera battery was dying, so I didn’t get to take as many photos as I would have liked, but I hope I got most of the highlights. Fortunately, my mom’s checked tablecloth is a perfect 1/4″ grid for scale. ๐Ÿ™‚

Buttons and jewelry

A wide assortment

Everything from giant coat buttons to tiny shell buttons are represented. There are a lot of fabric-covered buttons, including some “homemade” ones which are just regular buttons with fabric sewn around.

Buttons

Assorted buttons

More doodads

Assorted not-buttons

There are also a number of inclusions of buckles, garter clips, screws and other bits of hardware, and even two little spigots.

Buttons

Shell, cloth, plastic

Since there are SUCH a lot of photos, I’ll leave you to peruse the flickr gallery for the most part.

The Box

Halfway through. Chalk drawing on the box courtesy of me, aged 3 or 4.

I love pawing through this stash, but I don’t think I could ever actually bring myself to take anything out of it. To me (and I’m known to be sentimental about such matters, so your mileage may vary) this collection has gone from stash (to be used) to time-capsule, to be cherished, curated, and preserved for future generations. I suppose realistically there isn’t a huge amount of historical data in a bunch of buttons—or is there? Considering that most of these buttons were probably cut off clothing on its way to the rag bin, perhaps you could perform some kind of an analysis—proportions of shirt buttons to boot buttons to coat buttons? Dating the various buttons would be interesting, though I don’t know if carbon-dating is feasible at this age (it would work on the wood and horn buttons, potentially. Is there enough carbon residue in shell?). Stylistic dating would probably be more useful. Isotope studies on the shells could probably shed light on their origin, and maybe highlight trade/manufacturing pathways in the early 20th century.

… okay, pulling back from the brink of madness. What would you do with a treasure trove like this? ๐Ÿ™‚

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