'Sweetest' show: Historical society exhibits antique baby garments

The Wilton Historical Society’s new White Linen and Lace exhibition features baby clothing made with different kinds of fine needlework, dating as far back as the early 19th Century.

“They’re all pieces from our permanent collection,” explained Leslie Nolan, director of the society.

Ms. Nolan said White Linen and Lace is one of the historical society’s “sweetest shows.”

The tiny white garments on display at the historical society are made of lace, embroidery, crochet, tucking, tatting, soutache, cutwork, drawnwork, and rickrack.

The exhibition showcases a variety of infant attire, ranging from christening gowns and slips, to night gowns, dresses and baby shoes.

A display case of baby bonnets, walls lined with baby bibs and blankets, and an old book of stitching patterns can also be found on display.

The tradition of dressing both baby girls and boys in white garments dates back hundreds of years, and its roots lie in practicality.

Not only could white garments be passed along from one sibling to the next without concern for gender, according to the historical society, they could also be washed with soap and very hot water and bleached in the sun.

In addition to clothing, the exhibition also features antique childhood furnishings, including an early-20th Century cradle and blanket that belonged to the family of Robert Womrath and was donated to the historical society by his wife Dorothy.

“We have lot of works in our collection that help tell the stories of Wilton families,” said Ms. Nolan.

A number of pieces in the White Linen and Lace exhibition have connections to notable and historical Wilton families like the Hurlbutts, Amblers, Beldens, and Davenports.

The White Linen and Lace exhibit runs through Oct. 4.

The Wilton Historical Society is open Tuesday through Friday, 10-4. Saturday hours, 10-4, resume on Sept. 6.

Information: wiltonhistorical.org, 203-762-7257.