What do you do when you have been invited to a special 1910-1920s era themed Tea, you can’t afford a vintage garment, and you wish to be able to participate?
What if you want to communicate something about the old ways and going the extra mile to the younger girls? Well, you get busy and use your resources!
If you have taken the time to learn to sew, it gives you lots of options. Creativity becomes a way of thinking. What if it was possible to restore a period vintage dress that cost significantly less because it needed some work? Could we make something that was beautiful in its day but had lost its charm through damage, wear, and the years into something beautiful again? Could we restore to its original beauty something that is very old?
In order to model the ‘lost arts’ of hospitality for some of the younger girls in our church, an old-fashioned Titanic tea was planned. The young ladies my daughter’s age were there to share on gracious manners, table etiquette, and stories of women that survived the sinking of the Titanic. It was an opportunity to model, in period costume, the beautiful refinement and charm that today’s culture has largely forgotten. Once again, but in a slightly different way, we found ourselves giving thought to restoring something old.
Time was too short to make something that would be authentic. Diligent searching on Ebay revealed that either this style of vintage dresses were out of our price-range or they were damaged. Then, if one was found for a reasonable price, the size would be diminutive to the extreme – the waist, a 20 inches!
However, persistence paid off.
My daughter came upon a lovely 1920s white vintage tea gown from the Titanic time period, in just her size; the problem was that part of one of the sleeves was totally missing. Bidding started at $19 and went to $29. But before she bought it, she made some mental calculations. Could she pull it off and restore this missing sleeve?
There was no pattern except the corresponding sleeve to work from. We had antique lace from my mother, and we found some cotton voile (it needed to be cotton or else it wouldn’t tea stain). Both were carefully tea stained in stages to ensure they didn’t become too dark.
Tea stain does not come out.
It was a calculated risk, but also a welcome challenge to test her skill. Worst case scenario, she would have to sell the old garment at a slight loss. Restoration takes forethought and develops intuitive ability if you exercise it.
Unlike replacing a lost sleeve on a vintage tea dress, bringing back love, graciousness, and others-focused manners to the world around us may not be so easy, but we can diligently teach the children (sons and daughters) in our homes stitch by stitch, day by day. We can train them up watching us live lives of goodness, kindness, patience, and self-control.
By our very devotion to the things of God, we can breathe new life into this old command:
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience…And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” ~Col. 3: 12, 14
As the old tea dress was not complete or whole or lovely without the sleeve, so we are not whole or complete or lovely without the fruit of the Spirit that guides how we live, love, and work with others.
“Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.” ~Jeremiah 6:16
You can learn to sew and teach your children, too! Here are some helpful links:
- Sew Mama Sew, “Seven Essential Sewing Skills“
- Martha Stewart, “Sewing Basics“
- Martha Stewart, “Easy Sewing Projects“
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Thanks for reading!