Sunday, March 22, 2009

Vintage Linen Shopping - Part 1

All week I've been waiting to visit my friend Joan's antique shop, Mormon Trader Antiques (MTA), also known as Estates & Remainders (because she and her DH Les liquidate estates). Last week when I visited, they were madly preparing for the big sale that began on Saturday (and will continue next Saturday), and so last week it was a bit hectic. When they have a sale, let me tell you, they pull out all the stops!! No wonder they are so well respected in the Salt Lake area - and in the entire Southwest, too. My anticipation was high, and I was not disappointed.

And, I thought of all of you and how much I know you would enjoy these pictures. Joan was so sweet and helpful with the picture-taking, as were our mutual friends who also happened to be there, Chris and Laura Lee. My only complaint - and Joan, I know you're going to read this - is that Joan herself didn't really want to stop for a picture. But with as busy as things were, it was certainly understandable.

I'm going to spread this visit over several posts; not to tease you (although there's that, too!), but because I took so many pictures and there are really some interesting back stories and information to go along with the pictures.

Shall we go shopping??

Well, I practically sprinted past the outdoor displays to get inside where the "good stuff" (read: vintage linens, laces, buttons and all the "girly" things we love) was.... And I was greeted by ...

Five vintage dress forms. And three of them were CHILDREN'S dress forms - they are quite rare. The middle one is obviously for a boy. How often do you see that? (never before, for me). The three kid dress forms were already sold (to a woman who actually bought a total of five forms!).

Isn't the lace on this dress just beautiful? It amazes me how much time and effort, as well as quality fabrics, laces and trims - were put into the clothing of this era. Whether it was a ball gown, everyday dress or underclothing - there was detail and incredible workwomanship.

Next to these dress forms in front was a display of lovely vintage tassles and tiebacks taken from the Walker Mansion (referenced in an earlier post). Click on this picture for closer detail. By the way, you can click on any picture to view it in larger format.

OK, here's a pop quiz. Do you know what Joan is holding in the picture below??? Here's a hint: it's an undergarment. I'll give the answer at the end of the post.

Here was another of the lovely dress forms. Joan was kind enough to give me a quick lesson on vintage dress forms; what some of the differences are and how to approximate their era. Older dress forms have smaller waists. The dress forms with the 18" waists are older, for example, than those that we see from the thirties and forties and beyond. Also, dress forms from the 19th century usually had the cages below the body of the form, to accommodate the long styles. Once dress lengths shortened, these cages were often removed.

The dress form clad in this purple velvet outfit had a small waist, but was covered in a nicer gray fabric than many of her older ones. You can't see the form itself, or the small waist for that matter, thanks in part to my lack of photography skills (but also because the jacket is unbuttoned). Look at the length of that jacket!! And the pleats at the bottom of the skirt. Oh yum! I'll have to get more info on this from Joan..... or Susan E, are you into vintage fashion??

Another beautiful display of a vintage dress on a vintage form. Full shot (above) and bodice (or "shirtwaist") detail below.

And so it should come as no surprise that by now I was so excited, I knew I needed a vintage dress form. The purpose of my shopping expedition was to find the perfect birthday present (DH & I let each other pick out our own gifts when we determine we're actually going to spend some money). My original thought was to get another ribbonwork lingerie case, but after a brief consult with DH, it was decided that we'd splurge this year (as we did last year for him). Casting my guilt aside, I fell in love with this dress form:

And so it is now mine. Of course, the dress was separate, and I did not buy that; I think I'd rather find something other than a mourning dress (although isn't it lovely?? Closeup below).

The dress form has an 18" waist, original wooden finial, and very old (but in good shape) cloth. It originally had a cage for the lower dress area, but it is sadly no longer attached. Maybe I can find one someday.

Moving along, there was a pile or two of vintage quilts. I didn't even have time to go through these, but I will do that (and get some pictures) on a subsequent visit. The top one on the left is a crazy quilt with a lot of satin fabrics. I did snap one closeup, but it didn't turn out, so I'll have to do better next time. And notice the dress form at the right?? That's another child dress form; it was one I had initially decided to buy, but then changed my mind to get the ladies'.

Ok, time to answer the Pop Quiz question. That odd-looking thing is a bustle. Did you get it? I certainly didn't know what it was until Joan told me!

We'll conclude this post with a picture of this lovely beaded item (ornament?) that was in one of the many cases of treasures. Isn't it sweet???

OMG, there is so much more. In the next several posts, I'll show you a handmade Battenberg lace bodice, boxes and baskets and spools of fine vintage laces, an 1894 wedding collection that includes lace, slip, gloves, pictures, marriage certificate and an unbelievable surprise, a silk apron with incredible ribbon embroidery and so much more!!

But for now, it's late. DH finished up our taxes tonight after we've both done our parts on it over the last week. Luckily, we're getting a generous refund, and it will go in the savings to assuage my conscience!! ;-)

Until next time, lots of hugs,


  1. I can imagine you had the day of your life in there. If I had been there they had to drag me out! What a lovely store!

  2. So, where is this place? What a wonderful, wonderful spot!

  3. Hey Mary Frances, this store is in Salt Lake (just a hop "over the hill" from you!). But she will be opening an online store at either Etsy or ArtFire in the near future. :-)

  4. OH My Goodness Cathy..... I can't stop drooling!!
    What beautiful shop and all those lovely old things.... and to think when we took our last trip down throught the States... Utah and Salt Lake City were my favorite places..... sigh! Maybe next time..
    Now I am going back to see it all again. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful time.xoxo

  5. Cathy... what a wonderful way to spend some time... absolutely lovely stuff... can't wait to see her online shop... so what did you buy, VBG!

  6. Cathy, you lucky girl you! A vintage cloth dress form, WOW!!!!!! I do need to make a visit to SLC, that is for sure. What a lovely shop. I would love a vintage dressform for my studio for my jewelry and such....... I guess I need to go and hit the antique shops, but they are so expensive here in Coeur d'Alene, guess I need to go to the thrift stores in Spokane!

  7. Hello Cathy, Oh, what wonderful treasures. I do not think I have ever seen such a great antique shop. Truely lovely things. Love your new dress form. Now what are you going to put on it?? Hugs Judy

  8. I knew the bustle, my grandmother still had hers. I used to put it under my blouses (when I was in 2nd and 3rd grade) and play like I was having a baby. I would put my Tiny Tears doll inside it and drop the baby to the floor. She never told me it went on the butt until later!

  9. Hi All,
    I will be opening a gift shop in SLC in the fall and am looking for an antique dress form and a super modern one too. I like the looks of some of those on this website, and wondered if you had some suggestions of where to find them?


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