Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Hidden Details - A Mid-19th Century Survivor

The years have not been kind to this flounced dress, circa late 1850's - early 1860's, but it has survived both time and extensive "remuddling" and has many hidden details to share.

It was constructed of a white cotton, with a thin blue stripe. The dress is quite petite in size, I suspect made for a teenager, perhaps by the girl herself, as the construction is somewhat crude. It was primarily sewn by machine. There are some atypical construction techniques used, that will be discussed later.

The dress has a gathered bodice, typical for cotton dresses and a a three quarter length funnel sleeve.

Again, as is typical, the shoulder and side seams are shifted towards the back.

The bodice and sleeves are lined with a light weight white cotton - you can see that the lining has been darted.

There is a pocket on the right interior, elongated at the top to form a "stay", which is attached at the waist and helps to support the pocket and the weight of any objects it might contain.

The sleeves are lined, with a simple turned up finish, which has been stitched with a herringbone stitch - not a stitch usually used for hemming. I was not initially sure if this was the original sleeve finish, but there is markedly less fading on the turned up portion, so it probably is original.

Currently, the skirt is machine stitched to the bodice, however, close examination does show the presence of hand stitched gauging.

An anomaly of this dress is the lack of piping. The waistline of this dress has been very crudely enlarged, but there is no evidence that piping was ever present at the waist, neckline or armscye - all places it would be expected in a dress of this era.

The dress closes in the front with hooks and eyes, a mixture of modern and vintage.

There is a band of cotton organdy at the rear waistline, this gave a bit more "poof" in the rear, to help prevent the dreaded "flat back."

The skirt was constructed using fabric panels the full width of the yardage, measuring 29" wide. The selvages are not whip stitched.

The flounces are cut on the bias, as is usual, however, they are both gathered and attached by machine - not typical. They are only modestly gathered, again a typical treatment.

The neckline was just turned and hemmed, not piped.

Some of the exceedingly crude repairs, as well, as what appears to have been some type of label - perhaps this dress was used in a theatre production?

Most assuredly rough, but still lovely - it would display quite nicely with the addition of a collar and perhaps a belt. Most collectors prefer items in more pristine condition, but rough survivors like this have their own story to tell and the modern "remuddling" is part of the story.

Available for purchase here.