Irma G. Bowen Historic Clothing Collection


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Costume; Clothing; Main garments; Main garments for the upper body; Bodices


1898. Black machine-made Chantilly lace over mint green silk faille flanking a center of cream bobbinet and Chantilly over pale green organdy, trimmed with beads, chenille, wire check purl, rhinestones, and sequins, closing in front, with full-length curved-seam sleeves beneath layered shoulder frills, and a band collar.

The bodice has several layers and a complex construction. It relies on a white plain woven silk lining for structure, which is flat-lined to the mint green faille and is made with ten pieces: two front panels with two darts each, two side panels, and a six-piece back constructed of two back panels with a center-back seam flanked by two narrow, curved panels on each side. All the seams, darts, and both sides of the center-front opening are boned, for a total of seventeen bones. The bodice comes to the waist but extends into points at the front and back, with the boning extending into the points. The opening is 33 cm / 13 in. long and has twelve hooks. The green faille layer extends to the shoulders and the base of the neck in back, but the lining does not, ending beneath the arms and along the square neckline in front and below the shoulders in back. There is a waist stay ribbon with four hooks to ensure stability of fit.

The black lace covering the faille has fewer pieces, namely two front panels, two side panels, and one back panel, and is integrated into the main construction only at the side panel seams. The front overlay panel emerges from the side/front seam and is anchored beneath the shoulder and drapes in a diagonal fall to a point about 2.54 cm / 1 in. short of the center-front opening at the hem. The back-overlay panel is laid smoothly across the shoulder blades and is pleated to the center-back point of the bodice hem. A black silk ribbon encloses the hem beneath the black lace overlay.

The back yoke, over the shoulders, and the center front’s V-shaped area between the black lace drapes are filled with a layer of pale green silk organza covered with a cream two-twist bobbinet trimmed with cream silk Chantilly lace. In front, the lace frames the center front opening, while in back the lace covers the entire yoke. The front opening is hidden by the folds of the tightly gathered organdy and bobbinet, which gather to the actual point of the bodice at center. The scalloped edges of the lace are sewn with silver sequins and seed beads, some of which are scattered across the organza at the center as well.

The top of the chest in front is embroidered with ten five-petaled pink chenille flowers and scattered pale green chenille leaves. The flowers have large rhinestone centers surrounded by loops of brass wire check purl, from which three rays of pink beads in graduated sizes emerge into each petal. The leaves have lengths of now-tarnished silver bullion added to them. Above this, the bodice has a 2.9 cm / 1.125 in. high standing band collar made from the green faille and covered with the cream bobbinet and sequined Chantilly lace. The collar itself closes at center front with two hooks, but the lace overlay, which is sewn in place from center back to center front on the right side, secures to center back with three hooks beneath a small lace bow.

The sleeves emerge from their scyes beneath large, four-layered frills. The bottom two layers are widest, at 10.8 cm / 4.25 in., made with a supporting frill of the pale green organdy and a scalloped black lace ruffle. Another, narrower frill of the organdy comes next, topped with a final ruffle of sequined cream lace 7.6 cm / 3 in. wide. Beneath this frill, the moderately wide sleeve heads are gathered to the scyes with a small pop-up before gradually narrowing to the wrist. They have a curved two-seam construction in their main green faille layer and just one seam in the black overlay. There are small gathers at the elbows in the outside seams, and the wrists end with double ruffles. These have a black lace exterior over a cream lace interior; the cream lace has scattered flat silver paillettes in round, star, and quatrefoil shapes. The sleeves are unlined.

The bodice would originally have had a matching skirt; however, this was not included with it when the gift was made to the museum. Machine-sewn and hand-sewn.


Bust: 111.8 cm / 44 in.
Waist: 81.3 cm / 32 in.
Shoulder: 8.9 cm / 3.5 in.
Sleeve: 68.6 cm / 27 in.


Gift of Mary Pepperrell Ffrost Sawyer. Likely worn by the donor.

Museum Number



University of New Hampshire Library


Silk faille, silk organza, bobbinet, machine-made Chantilly lace, chenille, beads, bullion, rhinestones, paillettes, sequins


Astrida Schaeffer, photographer/curator

Date Digitized


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International 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.

Ffrost-Sawyer_history.pdf (75 kB)
Ffrost-Sawyer history


Bodices, 1898, Dover, New Hampshire, United States, Machine-made lace, Chantilly lace, Black (color), Overlay, Silk faille, Mint green (color), Bobbinet, Cream (color), Organdy, Pale green (color), Organza, Square neckline, Yoke, Beads, Seed beads, Chenille, Wire check purl, Brass, Rhinestones, Sequins, Paillettes, Silver (color), Silver bullion (metal), Tarnished, Front-closing, Full-length sleeves, Curved-seam sleeves, Shoulder frills, Band collar, Plain weave silk lining, White (color), Darts, Bones, Hooks, Waist stay ribbon, Silk ribbon, Scalloping, Flowers, Pink (color), Leaves, Round shapes, Star shapes, Quatrefoils, Bows (costume components), Machine-sewn, Hand-sewn, Ffrost Sawyer (donor), Ffrost (donor), Frost (donor)


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