Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Beautiful Lace & Bead Treasure

Last year I received a package in the mail from my best friend Bev. Bev had been helping her father clean out his house and was going through some items that had belonged to her mother (Barbara). Barbara passed away close to 20 years ago but to this day I can still hear her wonderful laugh and remember how she used to love to eat raw onions like they were apples.

Bev knows everything about me (maybe too much LOL!) - she knows I love the color blue, love lace and love anything beaded. Knowing that her mother would have loved for me to have these treasures, she decided to share them with me. I feel so lucky and so honored to own something that is so beautiful. One of the items she sent me was her mother's gorgeous blue chenille bedspread which I have on my bed right now. I thought I'd share with you a couple of the other treasures she sent me in hopes that maybe someone out there could tell me a little more about the dress. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

The dress is very thin and light weight and very tiny - looks to be like a size 2 so it sure won't fit me. It is all hand embroidered lace and is incredibly beautiful. It looks as though it might have been a night gown for a wedding night. Along with the dress I received a beaded purse with this note tucked inside. It reads:

5/3/75 : "the black beaded bag and dress will be Barbara Payne when I am gone" and it is signed Beulah. Barbara was willed this by a close friend of hers before she passed away and it had been tucked inside a dresser for years.

Some close ups of the dress: Front center. Note that there is some staining and a few areas where the stitching is coming apart.

Left side of dress:

Right side of dress:

Close up of boy:

Top front of dress:

Back of Dress: The bottom portion of the front and back of the dress has a slit and is not ripped.

Bottom of back:

Bottom right side of dress: Looks like rust stain

This is the beaded purse that the note was found in: Gorgeous bead work

Check out the birds!

Close up:

Also inside the purse was this necklace and earrings set. We are not sure but think this set was Barbara's. Bev and I met when we lived in Seville, Spain 1965-1969 and this is the style of jewelry that the Spanish ladies would wear with their flamingo dresses. We think her mother might have purchased them - what a fabulous reminder for me of those wonderful years!

For right now I have everything stored in one of my dressers wrapped in a white sheet. If anyone can tell me how I should take care of the dress I'd be forever grateful. I had thought of hanging it up on my bedroom wall but because it is so thin I don't want it just hanging there. I'm not even sure how to go about cleaning it to preserve it.


  1. Wish I had enough knowledge of lace to be able to help identify the types etc and how to care for it. These items are such treasures!

  2. Nicki Lee~
    How very beautiful all of these treasures are!! I know you must be thrilled with them, enjoy!!

  3. Martha Pullen would love that dress...she has a sewing show on public television.
    Awesome treasures.

  4. WOW aren't you the lucky girl! That is just beautiful even if you can't wear it and sorry but I too am not sure how to clean it etc. I belong to a lace group and will forward your blog link to them and hopefully someone can help you out.

  5. This is an amazing treasure :)
    You can go to a Museum with a textile collection and ask for advice.
    Here are some resources:


  6. Beautiful treasures there, Nicki! That dress looks like it should be in a museum.
    My suggestion would be to contact a museum and see if someone could tell you more about it. Mary Corbett (of the site called NeedleNThread) might have more info for you, too. You could ask her to have a look at those photos.

  7. I make purses and I was very interested in the purse that you showed.
    The dress is utterly amazing. And you certainly had a coup with this find.
    I looked up the purse in one of my books and it was made probably in the late teens or early twenties and was machine made. It is in amazing condition from what I could see.
    I will now go back to read the rest of your blog!

  8. Those photos are beautiful. The American Textile History Museum might point you in the right direction.



  9. Such beautiful treasures!!What a feeling it must have been, to wear a dress like this!

  10. Nicki Lee, I've been looking through my book "The Identification of Lace", and the more I study it and your dress, the more confused I get. Is it cotton or linen? Do you know if it was made in the US? To me, it appears there are many different styles and dates of lace in it. Some of those, to my admittedly untrained eye, look like an embroidered pina cloth, point de France (which appears to be handwork, not machine), filet crochet, and other. I wouldn't be surprised if it's eighteenth and nineteenth century laces together. Please get this appraised by a textile conservator and let us know what you learn! You are an amazingly lucky lady! As a fellow owner of a beautiful vintage piece (I have an 1882-1888 crazy quilt), I know that the weight of conservatorship can be daunting! Good luck!

  11. What gorgeous treasures! Thanks so much for the pictures.
    I know if you send pictures and questions to the folks at the lace museum, Lacis in Berkeley
    that they will answer you. They answered mine last fall...

  12. Hello Nicki Lee, The dress and purse is truly beautiful. I reckon if you wrapped in Acid Free Paper that it would perserve it. Hugs Judy


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