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Thursday, October 02, 2008

Treasures from the past

We've lived in this house for 40 years now. Before we moved in, we had cupboards built at the back of the garage for storage. In one of those cupboards we stored a footlocker packed with costumes my mother made for "Pride and Prejudice," my junior-class play in high school. There were also some Halloween costumes I'd made for our kids and even a couple of pieces handed down from my mother, like the gym bloomers she wore to play basketball in the early 1900s.

They went undisturbed for years. Each time we cleaned the garage, we moved the trunk out, swept behind it, and pushed it back into the storage area. About three years ago, my curiosity got the best of me and I opened the trunk. Everything in it looked in fantastic condition, but it all smelled so strongly of mildew I could hardly stand it. I put everything in a huge plastic lawn bag, knotted it, and put it back in the cupboard, vowing to learn how to get the mildew out. Of course, I totally forgot all about it. But when we cleaned the garage last weekend, I opened the bag and sorted through the costumes. I was astonished that the mildew smell was nearly gone, since the bag had a couple of holes in it and fresh air had filtered through. Its a lovely collection of dress-up clothes for my granddaughter. I pulled out several pieces and soaked them in oxygen bleach, then washed in hot water. They look (and smell) good!

There's a 65-year-old Little Bo Peep costume my mother made for me, complete with petticoats and bloomers. There's a clown suit I made for our oldest. I think the other two boys wore it as well when they were two or three years old. A skirt and bodice my daughter wore for a folk-dancing program at elementary school. What fun! I'll know better after I iron them what condition the fabric is in after all these years. The thread in the clown suit has nearly disintegrated, so it needs to be completely sewn up, but that won't be hard to do. I suspect that the three boys each added a new rip in the seams when they wore it over and over.

The gowns for Pride and Prejudice may not fare as well. They would be more than years old. Fabrics weren't wash-and-wear. There are two taffetas, a satin, a dotted-swiss and a gingham full-length gowns. Mother altered two of them for me to wear as prom dresses, events I attended with my one-and-only boyfriend and husband. Very amusing to see the modest lace inserts she sewed into the top of the strapless gowns. No cleavage permitted in those days. I hope I can salvage one or two of them for Jenna to play with.

If this works, maybe I can restore my wedding gown. My beautiful dress has had a sad history and is bundled in a heap in the attic.

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Blogger JoAnn said...

You can't write that teaser about your wedding gown and not explain!!!!


7:05 PM  
Blogger Nita said...

A teaser, eh? I'm saving that one for another day.

7:48 PM  

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