That Blue Dress

Blue vintage dress (detail) by Juliane Solvång | Notes from BjörkåsaBlue vintage dress (detail) by Juliane | Notes from BjörkåsaThat blue dress…

Johanna was eighty-something when she gave me this dress. I was twenty-five. Johanna and her family were from the Province of Silesia, and in the 1930’s, her mother asked a seamstress in the village to make her something from heavy-weight blue cotton fabric. A blue dress.

When Johanna and her family fled the turmoils of the Second World War from Breslau in a trek of refugees, this dress was one of the very few things her mother could take with her.Blue vintage dress (detail) by Juliane | Notes from BjörkåsaBlue vintage dress (detail) by Juliane Solvång | Notes from BjörkåsaBlue vintage dress (detail) by Juliane | Notes from Björkåsa

For the past twelve years, I have kept this dress in a box, together with a few other vintage garments that I have been given. There are buttons missing, the hem is fraying, the selvedges looked like this. There are moth holes and there are stains that not even bile soap and a gentle cycle in the washing machine could remove.

I don’t have the heart to throw it away, despite its bad condition. Like so many garments that I own, it tells a story. One of my New Year’s resolutions was to finally take the time to mend this dress.

Johanna died ten years ago. I wish she could see me sitting in the evenings, mending the dress that her mother once has worn. Adding my own history to hers, stitch by stitch.Blue vintage dress (detail) by Juliane | Notes from Björkåsa





  1. This is one of the most touching posts I have read lately. Such a warmhearted text and so beautiful images, Juliane.

    • Thank you so much, dear Ida. I am so glad that you liked this post – and I am sure, Johanna too would smile if she would read your comment!

  2. I am sure, Johanna is seeing you and she loves you for what you are doing with her blue dress- and so do I.

    • Thank you, dear Patricia. Do you remember when we all had to take photos for the ZBF agency? On all photos I have been wearing Johanna’s dresses :-)

  3. Touching story and beautifully written, Juliane! It reminded me of a dress that I got to borrow and wear when I was twenty – it belonged to my aunt but was originally made for her aunt, in Budapest, before the second world war. That aunt died in a concentration camp. The dress was beautiful but when I walked in it, I always thought about that sad story behind it.

    • What a touching and sad story, Vera. I can imagine that it must have felt like a heavy burden. In Johanna’s (and her mother’s) case, I tried to focus on that they survived the war and that they found a new home (although Johanna often talked about the places of her childhood and youth). What happened to the dress that you borrowed from your aunt – does she still keep it?

  4. What a beautiful thing to do, mending this dress. It will be so much more alive when it can be outside its box and be worn again!

  5. What a beautiful dress. And what a surprise to see Breslau mentioned in your post. I was born in Lower Silesia and I went to university in Breslau. I love the city so much that of of my daughter’s middle names is Breslau. It feels sad and good at the same time to know the story of your dress. Thank you for mending it.

    • Dear Edyta, I am so glad that you read this post – and that Breslau/ Wrocław has a special place in your heart. I think it is important that we never stop telling stories of loss and war and that we keep the memories alive. Thank you so much for visiting my blog and for leaving this kind comment <3

  6. Hihi den där galgen! Så roligt! Jag är född och uppvuxen i utkanten av Hässleholm. Klädbutiken Carl Andersson´s har legat i samma hus så länge jag kan minnas och gör fortfarande. Har du någon anknytning till Hässleholm eller galgen har hamnat hos dig av en ren slump?

    • Jag såg bilden på Immeln på din blogg idag, Frida, men jag hade så bråttom och lämnade därför ingen kommentar. ‘Vad gör hon här, i våra trakter?’ tänkte jag då och blev ganska nyfiken. Nu fick jag en förklaring ;-)
      Vi bor en bit utanför Sösdala, galgen kanske har kommit hit via min sambo (han är ursprungligen från Hässleholm). Men det kan också vara så att jag hittade den på en loppis och tyckte att den var fin.

Comments are closed.