Irma G. Bowen Historic Clothing Collection


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Costume; Clothing; Main garments; Dresses


Silk broadcloth


1920s. Black silk broadcloth one-piece tubular calf-length dress, with full-length sleeves, a dropped waist, and floating accordion-pleated panels with scalloped edges.

The bodice has little shaping and is made with two rectangular pieces: one front panel and one back panel sewn together at the sides with 30 cm / 12 in. long seams. The back panel is 52.1 cm / 20.5 in. long at center. The front panel accommodates the bust with two pin-tucks at each shoulder that release fabric over the curve, with corresponding tiny gathers to the waist seam below. The right shoulder seam is sewn, but the left shoulder has four snaps to widen the close-fitting round neckline during dressing. In front, the neckline is finished with a narrow black silk binding sewn to its curve from the left shoulder opening to center front. A second section of binding is sewn to the neckline from the right shoulder seam, but once it reaches center it continues onto the bodice fabric in a straight appliquéd line, reaching halfway across the left shoulder and creating the impression of a panel buttoning at the left shoulder. This faux panel has three decorative buttons with matching bound buttonholes sewn vertically just beneath the end of the appliqué, and a flounce of the same fabric is sewn vertically from the end of the appliqué to the waist as though finishing the panel’s edge. This flounce has a finished length of 46.4 cm / 18.25 in. and has a graduated width of 20.3 cm / 8 in. at the top and 11.4 cm / 4.5 in. at the bottom; its free edge is cut into six large scallops and the top three scallops are pressed into narrow accordion pleats. The back of the bodice is plain, decorated only with a small kerchief-like triangular collar added in from the shoulders over fourteen short pin-tucks. The small amount of fabric released from the pin-tucks creates ease across the shoulder blades. The sleeves are full-length and fitted, so snug at the wrist that they require a short vent with four snaps.

The bodice is sewn to the top edge of a 10.2 cm / 4 in. wide hip-level waistband, which is made from one length of fabric and is sewn together at the left front hip with a slight vertical gather. The bodice fits smoothly to the waistband aside from the two small gathered areas above each hip in front. The skirt is also sewn smoothly to the bottom edge of the band but has a complex construction. It begins with two narrow horizontal bands of silk, each made of a front and a back piece together at the sides before being added to the garment. The first band is 7 cm / 2.75 in. wide and measures 109.2 cm / 43 in. where it is sewn to the dress waistband, flaring slightly to a bottom edge measuring 121.9 cm / 48 in. The second band, 5.1 cm / 2 in. wide, matches this edge smoothly but narrows slightly to 114.3 cm / 45 in. at its own bottom edge. The last section of the skirt, 35.6 cm / 14 in. long, is fitted to this edge and is pressed into narrow accordion pleats which flare to a 221 cm / 87 in. circumference at its scallop-cut hem. An asymmetrical final hem effect is created by four floating panels, each of varying lengths, accordion pleated, cut into scallops on their three exposed sides, and 25.4 cm / 10 in. wide where they emerge from the skirt. The seam joining the waistband to the first skirt band incorporates one 55.2 cm / 21.75 in. long floating panel at the front left hip, and another, 59.7 cm / 23.5 in long, at the right side in back. The seam between the two skirt bands incorporates one 41.9 cm / 16.5 in. long floating panel at the front right hip, and another, 44.5 cm / 17.5 in. long, at the left side in back. The dress is unlined. Machine-sewn and hand-sewn.


Bust: 114.3 cm / 45 in.
Waist (dropped): 109.2 cm / 43 in.
Shoulder: 11.4 cm / 4.5 in.
Sleeve: 61 cm / 24 in.
Hem: 221 cm / 87 in.
Length (overall): 114.3 cm / 45 in.


Gift of Mary Pepperrell Ffrost Sawyer, Margaret Hamilton Ffrost, and Elizabeth Rollins Ffrost

Museum Number



University of New Hampshire Library


Astrida Schaeffer, photographer/curator

Date Digitized


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License


The Irma G. Bowen Historic Clothing Collection digital catalog was produced by the UNH Library Digital Collection Initiative, supported in part by a grant from the Mooseplate program and New Hampshire State Council on the Arts. Additional funding provided by the E. Ruth Buxton Stephenson Memorial Fund.
Photography copyright, Astrida Schaeffer.


Dresses, 1920s, One-piece dresses, Tubular dresses, Silk broadcloth, Black (color), Calf-length, Full-length sleeves, Fitted sleeves, Round neckline, Close-fitting neckline, Dropped waist, Waistband, Floating panels, Accordion pleats, Scalloping, Pin-tucks, Snaps, Silk binding, Appliqué, Buttons, Flounces, Collar, Asymmetrical hem, Gathering (textile process), Machine-sewn, Hand-sewn, Ffrost Sawyer (donor), Hamilton Ffrost (donor), Rollins Ffrost (donor), Ffrost (donor), Frost (donor)