Today the TRC received a very special new acquisition for the collection: it is a christening gown from the Netherlands, which was made in 1947 from parachute silk that the grandfather of the baby had acquired during the war (TRC 2010.0070a). He had three daughters, and each of them got part of the silk cloth. Two sisters used it to make themselves a blouse, the third to make the christening gown for her first child. Not an easy thing to do, because the gown had to be made from a bias cut length of material with a diagonal seam across the middle of the gown. In order to hide that seam, the young mother embroidered along the seam the name, date of birth and place of birth of her little daughter. Later she added the date of the christening, the name and place of the church, the name of the vicar and the Bible text of the christening.
The christening gown was used many times in the family, and each time the name of the baby and all other details were embroidered onto the gown. And after seventeen babies the gown is almost completely covered. The last name to be added is dated the 12th March 2013, for a baptism in the town of Harderwijk.
A fascinating addition to the TRC collection. It was given to us together with a list of all the childen whose names are embroidered onto the gown. The gown illustrates an intriguing piece of family history, fully in line with the aims and objectives of the TRC, namely to provide garments and textiles with their righful place in social and cultural history.
And who was the graceful lady to hand over the gown to the TRC this morning? It was the woman who in 1947 made the gown for her little daughter. What a story!
Willem Vogelsang, 1 november 2017