Thursday, May 22, 2008

Unmentionables

My grandmother had seven maiden aunts who lived together for their entire lives in a big house called Wanganella. I think they had three more siblings who didn't stay in the family home, and from the stories I've heard they were an interesting family.

Recently I inherited some of The Aunts' underwear (!), which may seem a little quirky but it's rather fascinating from a textile/clothing history point of view. There are several pairs of lace-edged cotton bloomers, some sewn as separate legs joined only at the top (the easy access option for women constrained by corsets):

... and one pair in the 'entire' bloomer style, with enough room to accommodate a curvy female bottom:


In addition to the bloomers there is a pretty hand-stitched camisole (underblouse?) in a much more delicate fabric:

... as well as a pair of men's woollens that presumably belonged to one of my great-great-uncles.


(readers from Victoria will likely recognise the tag).

I think these clothes are at least 100 years old, and some are a little yellowed. If anyone can give me some tips on the best way to wash and care for them I'd be very grateful!

5 comments:

CurlyPops said...

Wow, they're amazing....but I would have no idea how to wash them either...

Danielle said...

What a piece of history. Sorry can't help with the washing, I have no idea either.

Sherrin said...

I'd love to know, too. Someone passed some similar stuff to me, as well as lots of lace. Will watch here and see if anyone comments. I'm guessing just something gentle. Maybe a warm handwash with wool wash (?), or bi carb or something.

Altissima said...

Juddie, I did a quick search on "care of antique linens", and found a couple of pages on storage and cleaning:
www.antique-linens.com/launder.html

antiques.about.com/cs/textiles/a/aa031900.htm


Also, you could contact NGV - they have an extensive textiles collection and may be able to advise on conservation and care of linens.
I have a DVD of film footage of The Aunts at Wanganella in the 30s - remind me next time you visit me to show you. Some gorgeous footage of Grandma at about 11 years old!
xK

Lisa said...

Just amazing. It is something that so many people would not think to keep a hold of.

Love the old Myer tag. Very Melbourne.

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