1920s lace collars – vintage inspiration

March 12, 2013

I was recently gifted some exquisite 1920s lace collars, that have been in the family for over 90 years. They’re so intricate and beautiful that I just had to share them with you! I’m hoping to draft a blouse or two in order to make good use of a couple of them – they are surprisingly sturdy considering their age – and I’d love to display the rest in frames maybe. Do you have any ideas or advice about sewing with and/or preserving these collars?

Anyway, I’ll let the photos do the talking, although they don’t do the collars full justice. Plenty more pictures (including some of lace trim from the same decade and some 1930s fabric) can be found here on my blog.

  1. I’m usually not a lace, flowers and pink kinda girl, but the first collar is absolutely stunning! Gorgeous collection. You are one lucky duck.

  2. Lovely! Any of these could be used for early ’30s styles, too. Either way I’d stick with simple styles that let the collar do the talking.

    I have an original dress dating from about 1929-30 that uses a deep-V-and-panel collar in this vein, same ecru color. The dress is made of fairly heavy chocolate-brown silk crepe, and it has a lovely coffee-and-cream effect with the lace. Really tones down the frou-frou quality.

  3. Those collars are gorgeous! I come from a museum textile preservation background where the goal is preservation forever and ever, the occasional display, and not much functional use and I’m not really sure what level of preservation you’re looking for. I guess use the ones you want. You can gently clean them all (what are they made of?) using (generally, at least what I use on non silk lace…like cotton. Silk is another story) a non detergent cleaner. Swish it GENTLY. Yes…GENTLY, if at all. Although you say these are pretty sturdy so maybe swish as much as you judge. Lay flat to mostly dry (you can block it – use pattern weights not pins – if it’s not in danger of unraveling) and then lay shaped to finish ‘er out. (put an absorbant towel around the dress figure, wrap it around, and so on…)

    After they’ve been cleaned take them off with gloves (which you probably don’t need to do) get an acid free backboard, and stich them on using the tiniest stitches, being careful not to disrupt any of the lace. Catch in between, not through any of the threads or knots. If there are any holes in danger of unraveling the piece feel free to stabilize around those threads using tiny circles (similar to screening when a fragile rug is going in for a wash). Store in an acid free box, Similar sized backing pieces can be gently stacked.

    Cheaper, less time consuming option: fold into acid free tissue paper, stick in acid free box. The container store has these for sale, and I’m sure there’s lots of other places that do too.

    Phew! Back to homework!

  4. Very pretty. My guess is that they used to be white. I researched extensively how to clean this type of thing because I have in my possession a 1912 christening gown that my great-grandmother made from the underskirt of her 1910 wedding dress. It was yellowed, and had some age spots, but the time had come for it to be called into service again. After a couple months of research, I put it in an oxyclean/Biz solution to soak for a few hours (cold water), drained it in the sink, rinsed, and then rolled it in a towel to dry. It came out bright white and the age spots are a thing of the past. Do some research–you might want to clean it yourself! (Oh, and I might be sharing this. It’s literally… touching history; my history.)

    1. Share away Laura and thanks very much for replying! To be honest, I much prefer off white and cream colours to white…so I hope they were meant to be this colour to begin with ;o)

  5. What beautiful collars! I don’t have much advice to give you on how to utilize them, but as I have curation experience, if you lay them flat and wrap them gently in acid-free tissue paper and place them in acid-free cardboard boxes they will last a long time as long as you store them in a humidity free area. If you are going to frame and display in glass, make sure that the backing (whatever is put behind them in the frame) will not have dye that will discolor them. Also, keep them out of direct light as that will also discolor.
    PS You’re so lucky to have such a wonderful find! Lucky you. 🙂

  6. I’d suggest being careful with the oxyclean! Tougher fabrics or a really mild dilution of it might be ok but some of those collars look delicate and I still don’t know what they’re made out of. Try forever new: http://www.forevernew.com/ and a good swish. It’s what I use at home for my personal collection when I’m actually cleaning it (which, honestly, I rarely do. I mostly just take care of the pits and collars and call it good!)

  7. No real advice from me either — I just had to tell you that I think that your collars are terribly lovely and that you are a lucky girl. I am so glad you shared with us, and hope you’ll show us what you do with them.

    1. This is why I shared them on here, I knew a lot of people would appreciate seeing them, just like I enjoy seeing other people’s vintage finds ;o) I will absolutely share whatever I do with them with you kind folk!

  8. Jumping in with a quick compliment on your gorgeous gifts, and suggestion that you consider using some of the pieces as accessories–that is, not sewn into a garment, but laid on top. Would give you more options. 😉 Cheers!

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