Vintage inspiration - 1920s lace collars

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, sewing is progressing steadily, yet slowly, around these parts. So, lacking any finished projects, today I'm going to delight you with some exquisite 1920s lace collars gifted to me recently by two of my mum's lovely cousins. They used to belong to their grandmother (the equivalent of my great grandmother) who used to be a very well-to-do and stylish lady judging by these beauties. I believe the collars were intended to be sewn into dresses or blouses as a decorative yoke and indeed a couple of the ones below look like they were unpicked and salvaged from dresses. 

I'll let the pictures speak for themselves (although they don't do the collars full justice), but just look at the level of detail that went into these collars - they're so intricate and delicate, I bet any woman would feel super feminine and special wearing one of these!













I was also generously gifted some gorgeous lace trims from the same decade and some fabric that I think is most probably from the 1930s.




I was left feeling overwhelmed and very emotional when I was handed down these family heirlooms...to think they've been carefully preserved for over 90 years! I will give them a good home of course, but I also hope I can do some of them justice. I'd love to have a go at drafting a suitable blouse or dress for a collar or two and I'd love to display the rest around the house maybe. But how would you do this without damaging them, even if they are in excellent condition for their age? If anyone has any advice about caring for such old items, I'd love to hear it!

31 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Those are beautiful and rare gifts, treasure them, but if you find you will not be using all and would like to make some money, please know that I will be treasuring them and loving them. You are lucky to have them! I am in love with the first and fourth collars!! If interested in selling either of the collars and some of the lace trim...- name your price- I am a physician currently living in Virginia, but learned to sew with my mother and grandmother (from Spain)- in my heart I am really a seamstress and collector of vintage fabrics/laces, and vintage sewing patterns. I have a huge collection and always looking for rare beautiful pieces. I do not sell my projects but keep them and treasure them. Please contact me at 7872426119 if you are interested. I have a paypal account- also look me up on facebook (my facebook page is personal and does not specify details of my workbut I can tell you which photos or I can show you pictures via email so you can see some things I have made (my son's baptismal suit, my bridemaid's dresses, some dresses for myself and other things...) Those are beautiful and rare gifts, treasure them, but if you find you will not be using all and would like to make some money, please know that I will be treasuring them and loving them. You are lucky to have them! I am inlove with the first and fourth collars!!
      Good luck with whatever you decide to do with them! lovely!!
      Diana M Rivera Mundo (facebook name) :)

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  2. Such beautiful pieces! The fabric looks amazing.
    I only know a little about taking care of really old pieces of textile, but you can always contact a textile conservator/restaurator. They know how to look after these materials. I know from working with old textiles, that the best way to keep them save is to keep them away from direct sunlight. Also make sure that the lighting in the room where the piece is presented is rather soft, so it won't harm the piece. If you want to store them save, you can get special acid-free boxes and paper that's sunlight resistant at specialised craft stores. Normal cardboard boxes will cause damage to the fabric.

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    1. Thanks so much, this is brilliant information!

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  3. Wow! They are magnificent. Could you possibly frame a couple? I don't know how you would go about it but museums and archive collections would probably give you some ideas.

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    1. Thanks Wendy, I'll certainly look into a few options.

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  4. For starters, how about making a few little zippered pouches for your aunts and yourself, using a wee piece of the straight lace? Then you've said thank you, used a bit, and you can wait to use the rest when the mood strikes you! :)

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    1. What a lovely idea, thank you!

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  5. Hey hun, They are fab. I'm a dress historian and the best way is out of direct sunlight. If they have weak spots make sure they are supported by a bit of light organza. It can be hand stitched gently on the back if your going to display them in frames. The rust marks are more tricky, I would leave them alone if I were you. A professional conservator has to note any damage and evaluate if it is going to damage the piece more by trying to get rid of it.
    Hope this helps a bit! x

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    1. Thanks Stevie, this helps a lot! And what a cool job you have!!!

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  6. They are beautiful. I especially love the very first one, it's exquisite! I agree with Wendy - framing seems a wonderful way of preserving and displaying some of them.

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  7. Those collars are gorgeous! I love the shape of them and I really hope you do something very special with them.

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    1. I definitely plan on at least making something with one or two of them, would be such a shame not to!

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  8. Wow! How amazing! What special heirlooms-- I'm so glad they've made their way to you!

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  9. as per Stevie:
    "Hey hun, They are fab. I'm a dress historian and the best way is out of direct sunlight. If they have weak spots make sure they are supported by a bit of light organza."

    definitely. especially if you intend to wear them. then i would line the whole collar in organza and baste around the weak spot for extra support.. in which case, also hand baste them all around the edges with small basting stitching stitches (so they don't catch on anything) so they can be removed for washing. when washing, not dry cleaned, swish them gently in baby shampoo or quilt cleaning liquid soap. don't wait until the lace becomes oily from your skin. it's better to wash the lace a little more often if necessary.

    after washing, carefully block them on a tea towel, not a bumpy towel, to air dry. don't stretch them out of shape. if they really need pressing, not ironing, use a piece of brown paper over the lace and use the lowest possible heat setting.

    they're very beautiful and you're very lucky to have been given such a wonderful gift.

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    1. Thanks so much Barbara, this is so helpful!

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  10. How gorgeous! Would be lovely if you could wear some of them, if robust enough. If you are getting them framed make sure you get it done by someone who has experience of framing textiles - it's damaging for it to be directly against the glass due to risks of condensation, and all materials toughing them(storage, framing or supportive) should be acid free. As others have said, keep carefully out of sunlight and in acid free tissue paper. If folding, make sure you make gentle folds/creases which are supported with extra rolls of tissue paper as no part of the materials should bear weight. Some guidelines here: http://www.textilemuseum.org/care/brochures/guidelines.htm
    Or just google caring for/packing and storing textiles in a Museum.
    Sorry for the long answer - I'm not a trained conservator but do work in a Museum so regularly handle and store textiles.
    But all that said, they have survived this long so don't be too paranoid and enjoy your beautiful textiles

    K x

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    1. Thanks so much Kerry, all important things to think about. They are in excellent condition and don't even feel fragile, so it would definitely be a crying shame to box them up!

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  11. these are lovely! what a wonderful gift... they are too pretty to just lay in a acid-free box in a drawer, i support the idea of framing the collars! isn't it perfect decoration for a sewing room?

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  12. How beautiful! You must be thrilled to recieve these lovely things.

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  13. What a feast for the eyes! Lovely.

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  14. These are beautiful Marie! I hope you can wear them. I was going to suggest lining them with white muslin or something to protect them from your skin. But it seems organza may do the trick (from previous comments), and would probably be stronger. I would suggest a blouse (dress may be too heavy?). #5 is my favourite!
    If they are too fragile, framing them would be a lovely way to preserve them - you can hang them in your sewing room :)

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    1. Thank you...I never even realised they'd need protection from my skin before! I'm definitely going to try and make a blouse or two!

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  15. Absolutely beautiful, you have to wear them! perhaps inserted into lingerie for a special occasion - blouses, or a christening gown for the lace trim/inserts and I would be tempted to make an unstructured blazer with the fabric to wear over plain summer dresses. Total fabric stash envy!

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  16. Sigh. I was born too late. Clothes now are just plain disposable trash unless hand-made.
    Please wear them.

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