Here is the vintage gown, circa 1960………
It was beautiful, silk, with tiny covered buttons in back and on the sleeves and lace down the front of the bodice and skirt with a built in train. Andrea's Mother must have been a petite lady judging by the gown, very small sleeves and a 22" waist.
The first step was to remove the skirt from the bodice so I could get an idea of how much useable fabric we could harvest. The gown was not cleaned before storing, so I will need to clean the fabric before attempting construction, but it may in the long run have been better not to have dry cleaning fluid in those delicate fibers all these years. Contrary to popular understanding dry cleaning is extremely harsh and much too severe for many fabrics especially vintage and antique items. I took a small piece and laundered it gently in a Biz solution, that's the product my professional quilt appraiser Karen Housner recommends. Karen is a quilt historian, lecturer and teacher and collector of vintage and antique quilts so I trust her advice implicitly.
This is the piece after laundering and pressing, it came out very well so I will need to treat the remainder of the gown fabric the same way. After deliberating over whether to launder before or after cutting the blocks I think it may be easier to handle and press smaller pieces if I cut it up first.
then pressed them on medium heat using a pressing cloth.…...
and the result is very satisfactory. These are to be appliqued to the squares cut from the gown and then joined all together to make a full size quilt that will fit a futon.
The amount of yardage available is limited so some of the squares will have a seam through them, but the hankies will mostly disguise that and the quilting will also distract from any seams.
Next step, cut up the skirt into squares, stay tuned!