Monday, October 24, 2016

Heirloom Acquisitions - Buttons and 1920 Wedding Dress

Ugh I've been horrible this fall about staying up to date! August we had vacation, September saw us trying to start wedding planning, and October has just managed to fly by. After September, we did some number crunching for the wedding and my sewing habit is going to have to go through some budget cutbacks for a few months. Womp-womp :(

So yes, still not a whole lot of sewing happening - both in general and for my 1890s suit dress - but I have other fun things to show off!

For starters, my Aunt Dianne was recently going through stuff at her house and bequeathed to me a family button box!
There's some really interesting buttons in here that go all the way back to the turn of the 1900s probably, based on what I was told and what I found in the box (an old stogie box) as well. These were a few of my favorite finds:
Glass buttons, buttons on a card, iridescent glass/jet with animal claws, and someone's leather thimble.

Now the really spectacular part of this post started with a phone call from my Grandma Siegfried. They were also going through stuff at their house and found a box with a wedding dress in it (I need to get names again for who it belonged to), probably from around the 1920s. From what she described, it had been picked apart after being worn and there were just pieces of dress in the box. She wanted to know if I might be interested though because I could possibly use the pieces in other projects. I told her to send it along and I would take a look at it.

When it showed up, I really didn't know what to expect in all honesty. Based on what Grandma had said, I was imagining those scrap piles you sometimes find of all the leftover tidbits from when prior generations would take something apart to use it in another piece of clothing for the sake of economy and not wasting anything.
Box from Cobbies. Written on top is "Lace from wedding dress, 9(?)-4(?)-20, Adeline Koch."
Adeline is who the dress belonged to originally, and she was my Grandma's aunt (my great-great aunt if I did the figuring correctly). 

My sister was over that night and helped me dig around in it. As we started pulling things out, it quickly became apparent that this was not someone's scrap pile. We were pulling out ACTUAL pieces of clothing with 90% of the seams and original work still intact. A couple days later, I took Stacy my store form (Yay for work freebies!) and started pinning everything to her to try and make sense of all the pieces. Here is what I came up with:
There were 6 pieces total in the box.
Two petticoats/underskirts.
I think this is the innermost underskirt because it only had a tuck and no other embellishments.
I'm certain this is the second underskirt because it has lace embellishments along the right side that match the frock dress that goes over top.

Embellishment lace along right side and bottom of top underskirt. Based on visible seams, there might have been some on the back, but it was removed at some point.
It seems they took out the waistband of the dress, so I had to pin everything back together for display purposes.
AND THE DRESS! (front)
Dress collar
Left side with snaps still in place along side seam going through the arm and shoulder.
Back view of fastening side.
All that gorgeous lace on the front!
Side of dress with small "swags" (I think).
More lace!
Once I got everything on Stacy, it was quite clear I had mock pinned the underskirts a little to far down, but I was able to get a better idea at least of how the dress looked. Even though my store form is a little on the big side (about size 6-8), the pinned waistband of the frock was still huge, making it hang a little awkwardly. At about hip height, there were "swags" that hung down, but they were really hard to photograph just right. So I ended up laying out the dress on the floor just to get a better silhouette photo of it. Again, the waistband is only pinned in place so it looks a little weird.
Included were the veil.

And a random petticoat flounce that does not go to the dress, but it is pretty.

Last is a weird piece of netted lace that I can't figure out. 

It's about 30" long, and has two bands at the top (one torn) that look they could be armholes. 
If that is the case, it looks very lovely draped.
The sides look like they may have been taken apart.
It DOES NOT go with the dress (I've figured out that much), but is a complete mystery otherwise. Sadly, we do not have any pictures or additional information at this time to try and figure this out.

If you may know, feel free to leave a comment!
This was in the box to keep everything smelling great, and it does!
Daisy the Dog came in to supervise and inspect at one point.


  1. Oh my goodness, how stunning is that dress! I know nothing about the era, but what a lovely, lovely article that has been saved all this time!

  2. Time to use your connections from the Fashion Museum and get some answers