Helen Bond Ca-who?

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This is Helen Bond Carruthers. While not easy to make out the details, she is indeed wearing one of her famous cashmere sweaters appliqued with embroidered pieces of antique textiles.

Helen got her start modifying and embellishing plain colored cashmere button front sweaters in the 1950s. After acquiring a warehouse full of antique shawls, she began cutting them up and hand sewing them onto sweaters. She worked from home in Versailles, Kentucky...eventually employing some help to fulfill orders.

 

There are several signature details present in a true Helen Bond Carruthers sweater. First off- they will always be cashmere, and always lined in silk. Secondly- the embroidered pieces will have hand stitching around the edges. While there may be a bit of embroidery directly on the sweater for flourish, the majority of it will be whole pieces cut from another textile and then applied to the sweaters.

Third- the sweater will have been cropped shorter, sleeves tucked up inside and tack stitched down. The waist will be edged with a wide grosgrain ribbon inside and there, center back at waist- will be the Helen Bond Carruthers label.

 

Fourth- buttons! The buttons in most cases are round faux pearl, but can also be silk bridal buttons or plastics matched to the color of the design. The placket running down the back of the buttons will also be lined with a grosgrain ribbon.

Note- some of these will have boutique labels and/or the label from the sweater manufacturer (typically Pringle, Hadley or Ballantyne).

 

Helen Bond Carruthers sweaters have become highly sought after and collected, as no 2 are identical and they were never mass produced. The marriage of quality, attention to detail and timeless beauty make these sweaters a holy grail for vintage fashion fanatics!

 

(shown below, HBC sweaters sold by Dorothea's Closet)

 


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