Tuesday, November 14, 2023

A Trip Through A Cedar Chest

 My SQUIRREL brain will sometimes get me completely distracted.  It happened right out of the blue yesterday.  I may have mentioned I have several pieces of antique furniture that belonged to my grandmother.  I found an antique store on the coast that may be interested in taking these pieces, hopefully to be sold to someone who will love them as much as I do.  

I would love to try and restore this stuff myself, but I have no clue how to do it.  I imagine it would have to be completely dismantled and put back together.  

This is my grandmothers bed.  Yes there is a piece missing, but I do have it ..... somewhere.  I just have to FIND it.  All of these beautiful pieces made of wood are glued together.  There are no nails and only a few screws.  After all these years, the glue has failed and they are coming apart.

This is slightly smaller than a double size bed.  Good grief ... how could two people possibly sleep in that?  I used it for several years and my feet kept hitting the footboard.  I have the footboard, side and bottom rails all together.  I'm hoping they take it and give it some love.

This is my grandmothers cedar chest.  Same thing ... it's dusty, the hinges are coming apart and I think one foot has come loose.  There were no closets back in the day, so everyone had a "dowry" chest ... a cedar chest full of clothes and trinkets.  

Have you ever SMELLED a cedar chest that's 150 years old?  Oh yeah .... not quite so cedary any more.  I carefully opened it to see what I had stored there.

Inspired by the clothing my grandmother left in this cedar chest, I used to pick up all the vintage clothing I could find at antique stores across the state.  I wore most of it on outings to gold mining towns or local fashion shows.  That's when I was under 35 and skinny mini.  So here goes ... a late 1880 to early 1900's fashion show!

This is a nightgown.  They definitely wanted everything covered up.  It's very heavy cotton material, I suppose to help keep you warm at night.  

You've seen all those pictures of big flouncy skirts?  This is what's underneath.  Layer after layer of petticoats, most covered in lace.  Some were attached with hooks and eyes, but most of these have a simple thin cord tie.

Yes, I definitely have to hand rinse everything and hang them up to dry, maybe even iron the likes of this one.  It's a floor length beauty with those pouffy sleeves at the top.  They knew how to make clothes in the old days, this one being maybe 120 years old.

Here's a couple of early 1900 blouses.  Every one has long sleeves and lots of lace.  If you only had a plain Jane blouse, you would don the thing in the middle.  Put it over your head and it rested on your shoulders, making plain Jane look like she was more uptown.

One interesting thing about most of this clothing ... it all fastens in the back.  Some have hooks and eyes and some have tiny buttons.  A few have drawstrings to pull in the waist, but none can be worn unless you have a maid to button you up.  Of course ALL had to have undergarments, which you'll see tomorrow.

This is one of the skirts they wore.  It's VERY heavy ... I mean really, those gals had to be strong as an ox to wear all this clothing.  I bet this skirt weighs ten pounds.

More blouses ... except for the one on the left.  That was my fathers "dress".  When boys were little in the early 1900's, they dressed them up in long white dresses with big collars, black tights and black shoes, just for taking pictures. I probably can't find it now, but I have one of my dad running around the back yard in this outfit.

Again, more lacy blouses made from the thinnest material.  The green thing is a bonnet the lady of the house wore (unless she had a maid) to clean.  It kept the spider webs and dust out of your hair.  If you had a maid, SHE wore it.  

It's just amazing how intricate some of these blouses are, made from many different kinds of material.  Just goes to show you how far we've come in the way of women's fashions.  Tee shirts from China are the name of the game now, ones that don't even last 30 days.

There's lots more interesting stuff ... we'll get down to the undergarments next time ... but for now .....



  1. All very interesting, how did people wear that stuff!

    1. No idea. They must have been very uncomfortable!!

  2. Wow those pieces of clothing are amazing. The detail is beyond.
    Enjoy your day!

  3. Wow. What treasures. My favorite are the covers for a plain blouse. The material is so thin. Beautiful...

    1. The material is thin on almost everything they wore. That's why so few garments remain today.

  4. Replies
    1. It's a beauty. I'm surprised they still make some furniture the same way.

  5. Those are wonderful. I did read once that the reason men's and women's clothing button on different sides is because women's buttons always were for a maid to do up.
    I don't know how women who didn't have a maid for front OR back could do all that. The back would certainly require help. I'm pretty sure my predecessors didn't have maids.......I guess very few lived really alone.

    1. I didn't know that Judith. That certainly does make sense.

  6. P.S. Bob of Bob's Eyes last post said he was having trouble with the connecting, publishing. Apparently still is. I can't find his email address. Hope he is well. Do you know?

    1. Hi Judith,
      Yes, my site is down. I'm waiting for my blog hosting guys to fix it, I hope. Not much I can do for it. I tried, but it just got worse. Otherwise, I'm doing just fine.

    2. He's still working that shovel on the mountain! Just internet problems!!! Ahhh there he is!