Monday, June 18, 2018

A Package in the Mail

I received a heads up last week that there was a package in the mail from my sister-in-law for me from my husband’s aunt Penelope.  

My husband’s family is an old American family. When we were dating he told me that one of his relatives came over on the Mayflower. In making conversation with his parents when I was invited to lunch so that they could meet me, I inquired as to whom off the Mayflower they were related. My husband’s mother looked at my husband and told him it was not polite to tell people that you had relatives off of the Mayflower as they might thing you were being snobby. Then she turned to me and stated that my future husband was mistaken, it was not one person it was seven.

Roots go deep and one of the things I have always enjoyed in joining this family were the family heirlooms passed down to us. You may have read about the compote and my finding a replacement for the broken bit. Well this week in the post I was graced with a box of lace bits and vintage clothing. All of them in need of a good soaking.
So what was in the box?

First there was a selections of laces:

Then there was a, well, probably something that went under a corset:
This will be very pretty once it is clean and any stains removed.

My sister-in-law tossed in the box a couple things from my husband's mother she had stored in the attic. 

This child's dress is in not to good of shape. I believe it once was worn by a large female doll named George. The silk under lining is disintegrating but the netting is in very good shape except for the stain. I will work on that to see if I can get it out. from experience I can tell you probably not, but it will not keep me from trying.

Also from my SIL was something my husband wore as a baby just out of his bath:
Back to my husband's aunt,  a head cover from 1960's Italy. Probably bought at a tourist stop on the way to a Catholic mass.

A couple more pieces, a crochet collar and one of those neck pieces. I have several from France I have found over the years. I can just imagine it being worn high up on the neck with a nice mother of pearl brooch. 
Last in the box was a baby dress and bonnets. Now here is where I can put face to name on who made the dress and who has woren the dress. 

Sallie Smallwood 1857-1924 was the maker of the dress. She was married to a man named Samuel Biggs.  We have a picture of her wedding dress, although this is her grand daughter in it in a picture taken in 1937:
The dress was badly damaged, although you can't tell in this picture. A square had been cut out of the organdy by Sallie to make a baby bonnet for her first born child. I was told by my husband's mother that it was damaged across the front as well. After this picture was taken the dress was burned. Too bad since as you know I love lace bits.

Here is Sallie Smallwood Biggs, now a widow, in her later years seeing her son Bob (on the left) and his friend Bill Joe off to WWI:

And later still holding her first grandchild John Pope Jr. born in 1917:

Now we have a face. So her here is the baby dress, she made (picture from aunt Penelope):

The dress is made out of a fine batiste. The lace is several different designs of  tatting, including the three motifs across the front of the garment. Between the motifs are fine embroidery. The center bottom of the dress has a matching embroidery. The entredeux is not entredeux at all. It is fine hand sewn faggoting much like I have seen on a larger scale on the sheets I have bought in France. The entire dress was sewn by hand, with beautiful french seams and a double rolled hem at the bottom supporting two rows of tatting, one 1/2 inch above the other to give the bottom hem a wider tatted look than the tatting actually is.

The back of the dress does not have buttons. It would have been held closed by beauty pins. Beauty pins were a common way to hold baby dresses together in the back. One could make the dress look smaller or larger using the pins if needed.

Also in the box were a number of baby bonnets:
The bottom bonnet is, interestingly,  made out of organdy. There is no information if this one was the one made from the wedding gown. However, the bonnet is made completely by hand and the lace is of the correct era for the 1880's when the first of her children were born.

This little dress and an assortment of bonnets have been passed down in the family and worn again just a few years ago.  A total of five generations. The dress and bonnets are in very good condition.


  1. Lucky you! Would love to know if you are successful in removing the stains!

  2. JUst lovely. Yes, let us know about the stains.

  3. I am in awe of the beautiful pieces and the documentation you have Jean! Wonderful...