A few weeks ago, my father-in-law called and wondered if I would stop by to have a look at some old curtains. He and my dear mother-in-law are downsizing, and he was making forays into a small attic. The curtains are a story for another day, but while I was in the attic looking at them, I noticed a satiny petticoat or underskirt hanging from a closet rod-with a Girl Scout uniform as its only company.
The waist was so tiny, the creamy fabric so lustrous…even tho’ I, too, am trying to downsize…I told Father that I would love to have the skirt and the curtains. Then I had to dash, and when I got the curtains a few days later, nicely bagged up, imagine my surprise when I reached in, expecting to pull out rough burlap curtains with orange and beige woven stripes (yes! the seventies!), and instead found myself pulling out piece after piece of brown printed silk, lace and….paper. A dozen pieces in all.
Underskirt…skirt…blouse…jacket…three hats…fan…bow…purse…collar…sash. The brown fabric is printed with an 1898 edition of the Ashtabula Telegraph newspaper and Ashtabula (Ohio) is printed on the sash. Strange, yes? And then there is the crinkled paper trimming the jacket collar, the fan, and one of the hats.
Odd and wonderful.
Rather giddily, I called my father-in-law and asked him what in the world he had given me. It turns out that he had thrown away everything but the petticoat earlier in the day, but when he saw that I liked it (he’s thoughtful that way), he saved the rest of the ensemble from the trashmen and sent it along to me. All he knows about it is that his mother gave it to him, tho’ I am hoping to winkle out some more details soon.
Isn’t it charming and unexpected? And brown…my favorite color.
All I can think, because of the temporary nature of the paper collar and accessories, and the sash with words emblazoned on it, that it was for a parade or other gala event? It is a mystery, one of many, including why my husband’s grandmother (with no Ohio associations that we know of) had it in her possession…
What do you think?
Laurie November 21, 2014 at 6:43 am
What an absolutely delightful surprise! I hope you are able to find out a little more of it’s story.
jenni November 21, 2014 at 10:09 am
how amazing, it all looks like it was meant for you with the textures and the colors. I hope you can find out more about the background story as well. so fun
Gwyn November 21, 2014 at 12:37 pm
Oh my! What a treasure! I would love to hear where it came from. If nothing else I am sure there is a museum somewhere that would love to have this treasure, if you decide to let it go. I am thinking even the Textile Museum in DC. All I can say is wow, and I am going to look at the pictures again.
Gwyn November 21, 2014 at 12:47 pm
Looking at again, I just am in awe of it. So Beautiful and like Jenni said it looks like it was made for you. I can see this on a vintage maniquine. Was perhaps it made in a time of a depression? But I think you said perhaps it was made for a costume. Some one treasured it to save it and pass it on. I am so happy it was saved from the trash and passes on to you.
Heather November 21, 2014 at 10:20 pm
How wonderful and how very you!!!
Dori December 10, 2014 at 1:01 am
Oh, Lesley, how lovely! I just adore such things! Hopefully you’ll be able to find out more about these pieces and I can see them in person one day. 🙂 (I’m trying to catch up a bit here.)