A Vintage Pelerine In Search of A Party

This is a very special pelerine, or cape-like collar from the mid-nineteenth century.  It is authentic is every way, and should be just the thing for a re-enactor.  The cape is embroidered net, the edging is handmade Bucks Point bobbin lace, and it has wonderful tiny handmade buttons down the front. 


The only requirement for wearing this to a party:  a tiny neck.  The pelerine is a lovely 16 inches long in the back and front edges, but the neckline is only 11 inches, hardly uncommon in the mid nineteenth century, but extraordinary today -- except  perhaps for a young girl.  This would be most suitable for a pre-teen.

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The buttons are actually quite rare, and very pretty, but so tiny they can be easily overlooked. 


Overall, it is in quite good condition  There is a bit of a pull alongside a couple of the buttons - authentic wear, showing it was indeed off to at least a few parties.  

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Resist the temptation to close the holes by pulling the net up to the edge with a few stitches. Darning across the net is a better choice.  

Or the holes could be ignored. If the pelerine is not worn buttoned, they are unlikely to tear out further.

It would not be smart to wear the pelerine buttoned -- obviously that does cause stress to the net.

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More important to address is the tear in the lace along the back of the neck.

One solution would be to simply remove what's left of the lace and wear it with a plain neckline.  Possible, but let's not give up so easily on this charming frill.

Another possibility would be to replace the lace entirely.  With an internet that can search the world, It is not that difficult or expensive to find a couple of feet of authentic point ground lace.  Finding something that exactly matches the lace around the rest of the pelerine, of course, would not be easy. 

Another alternative is to mend what is there.  The key rule of mending lace is maintaining the spaces and lines.  Simply pulling what's left down and stitching it to the neckline is not an option.  It would look terrible.  That means replacing the point ground net that is missing.

Machines were churning out yards and yards of fine cotton net in the mid nineteenth century, and it is not too difficult to come up with a piece to use as a patch.  Granted it is not as fine as the original handmade net, but is a decent substitute.

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The lace cannot be removed, repaired, and replaced.  It is too fragile.  It has to be mended in place.

Notice that the lace is gathered.  Because the top of the lace is longer than the space at the bottom, it is a little trickier to stitch in the replacement net.

To stabilize everything while the net is stitched into place it is secured to a felt pad covered with a self-adhesive plastic film (to keep the needle from catching in the felt).  The lace and net can be moved along the pad as needed for the proper length.

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Remermber again the rule about lines and spaces.  We do have a convenient line in the lace to follow in attaching the new net -- the heavy gimp thread (green).

The lace is whip-stitched to the new net along the gimp line.  This will camouflage the mend.  The fact that the lace will be gathered also will help hide the mend.

Instead of trimming away the shredded original net, gather it into the mend to secure the edge and keep it from unraveling.  It is fine enough to essentially disappear along the gimp thread.

After the entire length is stitched, turn over the material, trim away the excess net, and whip-stitch that edge close to the gimp line as well.

It will not be a perfect restoration, but we have retained the frill at the top. Few will get close enough to inspect the lines.

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And this pretty pelerine is off in search of a young re-enactor willing to go off and party in an authentic 19th century accessory.



More guidelines for mending lace and linens, along with case studies showing specific mends are available in Anybody Can Mend Lace and Linens.    

Posted September 5, 2013

lacecurator@gmail.com  www.lacemerchant.com      219-659-1124    Elizabeth Kurella 2014