I tried my hand at beading with the 1920's pink polyester satin dress I made a few months ago. I feel like the beading really makes the dress: it provides a touch of quintessential 1920's glamour, but was fun to do and the design wasn't overwhelming.
|Adding iridescent black seed beads to the design|
These beads are remarkably beautiful and unusual compared to beads available in big-name stores. In addition, the hank strings were discolored and beige-y rather than white. My hanks are really tangled.
The silver bugle beads have a hint of black on the edges of the inner tube.
The seed beads are a metallic, iridescent black/brown/gunmetal, catching the light and changing color. The seed beads are hexagonal, but the height and length varies wildly and several were imperfectly formed. This was a much larger hank of beads, about 4 times the size of the silver bugles.
Based on the unusual quality and inconsistent size of these beads, I believe they are antique or at least vintage. My hanks, especially the black seed bead hank, look very similar to these vintage hanks below:
|Vintage Czech Hematite Seed Beads from A Grain of Sand|
|Vintage Blue Czech bead hank from French Steel Bead Shop|
I realized my beads were vintage (or possibly antique) halfway through beading. At once a cloud of guilt felt upon me... these beads are probably rare and I should save them. I almost ripped out all the beads with the intention of replacing them with new, store-bought ones.
But then I thought: why save these beads? No museum is going to want a tangled and dirty hank of beads. There seem to be many vintage bead hanks available online. In the end, the beads are being used for what they were probably created for--a 1920s dress. I would have felt worse about using the beads on a modern garment, but using them on a recreation of a historic garment, using a period pattern/diagram and sewing techniques, made me feel better. In a way, the life of these beads has finally come "full circle."
Still, it brings up the ethical question: should we use vintage/antique notions or materials in the recreation of historic garments? I think this is absolutely appropriate. Use an antique lace collar on your next Edwardian dress. Use cut-steel buttons for your Victorian mourning dress. What better way to honor the history and provenance of these pieces than to put them where they've been waiting their whole lives to belong?
But please, cutting up that collar or working the buttons into your DIY wind chime will be where I start to cry.
I want to know YOUR opinion! Do you think historical sewers should use vintage or antique notions, trims, etc. on their historical sewing projects?