Riktig sammet

On Friday I went into town to check out the second-to-last farmer's market of the year, and...it was pretty disappointing. No one was there! Just a lot of honey.

But first I stopped at a second-hand store near the train station, Helping Hand. They have a funny mix of some really beautiful and valuable things--cheap--and some truly cheap things.  For example, they have a really great selection of embroidered table/household linens and incredible mid-century hats with feathers and fur, but mostly H&M button-ups and weird t-shirts in the clothing sections.

However, behind the '70s plaid bib dress with massive hem and shoulder ruffles I spotted some deep purplish-red velvet.

Turns out it is a late-'30s, home-made silk velvet gown! I tried it on and....almost perfect (a little loose at the waist).  I rarely am so in love with something that I 'can't leave without it', and I often don't buy home-made, but this is too beautiful. And 95 kronor (14.42 dollars)! Did I mention real silk velvet? I am embarrassingly bad at fabrics for being a costume historian, but this is unmistakable.

It is beautifully imperfect, being home-made; the hem, for example, is even but sewn somewhat unevenly. I love this, and want to attribute it to pre-mechanical accuracy attitudes, although I haven't peeked inside too many designer or professionally made dresses from this time.

It does have a cotton lining in back, a little piece extending below the waistline.  I think this is to keep the rear pleating falling correctly.  This pleating gives it such a nice drape in back; the nature of the fabric makes them somewhat indiscernible, and between that and a center back seam with a bias so slight it looks like an accident, it's rather romantic to walk around in!  It's got these little shoulder pads, too, although I can't tell what's in them.  Not paper, maybe more of the lining fabric folded up?

Inside view, back. Notice the very...okay finishing of the seams.
Obviously as someone interested in preservation and collections I am not supposed to be in favor of wearing historic pieces, but the experience of putting one's arms through the slim-fitting sleeves cut on a kind of bias is not common in the days of 5% lycra.  Even though the dress is twentieth-century, a full-length deep red silk velvet dress with long sleeves and a loose body drape makes me feel like a Romantic without a corset, wishing she were a Renaissance babe.

View from the back.
I'm also struck by how disinterested I would be in laying this pattern out myself, and thus how impressed I am with this seamstress. Some of the seams need a little help, since it has probably been hanging up for the last seventy or so years. Not so impressive on the hanger, here:

but any pictures of it on me were almost less impressive, as it's going to take some getting used to this silhouette on me--I'm more used to the more structured '40s and ('40s-inspired)'80s things, and this soft, long line creates different shapes, highlights different areas.

I wonder if it was made by a Swedish lady?

How exciting to add to my teensy collection. More objects for study, one little step closer to connoisseurship. 

Now....where to store it?