Old Heirloom Clothing: What Shall I do with it?

Family History:  What Am I Going to Do with all This Old Heirloom Clothing?

Some old clothes probably aren’t worth keeping.  Later I think we will discuss what it is that makes old clothing, heirloom clothing.  What about your Great Grandfather’s World War I Uniform?  It could be donated to the Veteran’s Administration.  I know our local Veteran’s Cemetery has a display with uniforms from the various wars.  A museum might be interested.  It has been in the family for so long and we do know who wore it.  We even have photographs of him wearing it.  His comb was still in the pocket.  I think we will keep Grandpa’s uniform in the family. I am going to put it in a shadow box for display along with  his medals and some photographs.  That will be the subject for a future post.

I have discovered quite a few items of old heirloom clothing in our family history boxes. (At least someone thought they were heirloom.)   We have my some of my Dad’s baby clothes and his blanket.  There are baby dresses belonging to my Grandfather and and a great uncle.  There is even a partially finished dress my Grandma was making for my uncle before he was born.  (Yes, my Grandma “Hattie, the unfinisher”,but that is another story!)  Then he was a boy instead of the girl she had been hoping for.  I guess somewhere between the two generations it became improper to put a boy in a dress.  I’m not sure what I’m going to do with that one.

I think I will start with one of the more recent clothing articles.  My daughter’s christening dress.  My Mom made it for me when I was expecting my first baby. I ended up having a boy so the dress wasn’t used for a long time.  We did put it on him once though and he threw a screaming fit.  Apparently he knew it wasn’t right for him even at the age of 6 weeks.  Anyway we saved the dress.  Finally, 10 years later, my fourth baby was a girl.  I finally had someone to wear the dress!  I had pretty much given up and decided I simply did not know how to make a girl.  In spite of an ultra-sound, she was a complete surprise.  The Dr. said “It’s a girl!”  and I replied “Are you sure?  Let me look at that!”

It would take a long shadow box to display  it.  My Mom did a great job making it.  It is beautiful little dress.  She made a christening dress for each of her Granddaughters.  She also used to love to make porcelain dolls.  I wish I had one to represent each of my babies, but she left this world before either of us were finished.  I’m going to dress the one baby doll she made me in the christening dress.

wooden doll cradle

I have a wooden doll cradle that my mother-in-law gave my daughter for Christmas one year.  The doll will look nice in that cradle propped up with a crocheted baby afghan and laying on the baby blanket that my Mom saved from when I was a baby.

Doll in cradle wearing christening dress

Doesn’t she look pretty?  Sadly, she actually has a lot more hair than my baby girl did!  If you display any heirloom clothing like this be sure and seal the wooden cradle to keep acids from migrating to the fabric.  Also do not put heirloom clothing on a vinyl or plastic doll.  The acids will eventually yellow and weaken the fabric of the clothing.  In fact, given enough time a vinyl doll will decay and become sticky.  This doll is porcelain with a fabric body. Christening dress, doll display on bed

I really like her laying on the bed.  Nice, if you have a guest room that almost never gets used (mine is used frequently) and if you don’t have children around to play with her.  I have grandchildren and a husband, and  I know my husband won’t want to be bothered with carefully removing this doll from the bed every night.  So, she will remain in her little cradle, on a small round table, in the corner of my bedroom for now.

Do you have any ideas for displaying heirloom clothing from your family history stash?

If you do please share them with us.

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