Irma G. Bowen Historic Clothing Collection


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Date Created

c. 1905


Costume; Clothing; Main garments; Dresses


Cotton, cotton lace


c. 1905. Two-piece pale blue cotton dress with woven white dots, with a bloused-front bodice, long full sleeves, concealed front opening, pin-tucks, and a lace yoke, collar, and cuffs; with a separate floor-length gored skirt fitted at the hips, flaring at the hem, with added fabric insertions.

The bodice is made with seven pieces and is cut in the fashionable mono-bosom, pouched/bloused style. It has two panels in front which wrap around the sides of the torso before being sewn to the back, and five panels in back with two narrow side panels on either side of a center-back piece. There is no lining or boning to provide support, but the fabric is sturdy and holds its shape, assisted by a waist-stay ribbon, made of the dress fabric, that holds the fitted back in place while the front is allowed to pouch. The front panels have their fullness gathered tightly toward the middle beneath a slightly off-center bodice opening secured with eight hooks. The opening has five vertical pin-tucks on either side running the full length of the bodice, and two small groups of pin-tucks emerge from the shoulder seams. The shoulder tucks in front are mostly hidden by a yoke of machine-made cotton Reticella lace that is sewn onto the shoulder seams and drapes over the front 17.1 cm / 6.75 in. down at the side of the neck and 12.7 cm / 5 in. from the scye. A matching band of the lace 11.4 cm / 4.5 in. wide and 44.5 cm / 17.5 in. long is sewn to the right front panel at center, from the bodice hem and onto the 3.8 cm / 1.5 in. high collar, at which point 24.1 cm / 9.5 in. of the left half of the lace is cut away and the remaining right half is sewn all the way around the collar. A narrow ruffle of lace is added to the collar’s top edge. Other than what little of the lace shows from the front and collar, the back of the bodice is relatively plain aside from fabric manipulation. The center-back panel is narrow, only as wide as the base of the collar, and repeats the vertical full-length five-pin-tuck element from the front. On either side, on a slight diagonal from the sides of the neck and almost meeting at the center of the waist, is what appears to be a knife pleat but is in fact the turned-under edge of the side-back panel. These panels reach partway across the shoulder seam and each has a five-pin-tuck element sewn at an angle matching the “knife pleat”. The final pair of back panels is added in next to the side-backs with another false knife pleat, and completes the shoulder seam on each side. The seam joining them to the front panels is at the outer edges of the back. The sleeves are long and full and are gathered to the scye and to the narrow 2.2 cm / 0.875 in. wide cuff. They have just one seam. A 16.5 cm / 6.5 in. decorative cuff made of the Reticella lace is sewn on over the original cuff, extending slightly past it.

The floor-length skirt is worn over the bodice hem, with seven gored trapezoidal panels fitted smoothly to a narrow waistband. The skirt opening is in back, part of the center-back seam, and the skirt closes with five hooks. The design of the skirt echoes that of the bodice back, with most panels overlapping when sewn together. Here, however, the knife pleats are real, with the seams joining two panels hidden in the pleat fold. The pleats are topstitched to roughly knee-level before the fabric’s fullness is released toward the hem. The front panel has an inverted box pleat at center, topstitched for its first 53.3 cm / 21 in. before being released. The side-front panels are added in on top of the front at each side at the hips with 19.1 cm / 7.5 in. long seams, each made to look like buttoned plackets by the addition of six flat decorative buttons. These buttons are covered in white cotton and embroidered with a snowflake motif. Beneath these two seams, the front and side-front panels are cut away in an arch 79.4 cm / 31.25 in. high, behind which a matching curved panel with its own top-stitched inverted box pleat at center is sewn. Each side-back panel is then added in beneath its corresponding side-front panel at the sides of the skirt, so that the side-front panels are on top of both its neighbors. The side-back panels are then sewn on top of the center-back panels, which are themselves assembled with a normal seam at center which has small knife pleats to help hide the skirt opening. Masking the join between bodice and skirt is a partially sewn-on belt made of one vertical fabric-covered bar at center front and another at center back, and with three fabric-covered straps sewn to it to create a belt that flares to points in front and back and narrows at the sides. Three of the white buttons decorate the belt where the straps are sewn to the bars. The skirt is unlined. Machine-sewn and hand-sewn.


Bust: 88.9 cm / 35 in.
Waist: 68.6 cm / 27 in.
Shoulder: 11.4 cm / 4.5 in.
Sleeve: 57.2 cm / 22.5 in.
Hem: 350.5 cm / 138 in.
Length (skirt front): 95.9 cm / 37.75 in.
Length (skirt back): 104.1 cm / 41 in.


Gift of Sir Charles Jameson

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, c. 1905, Two-piece dresses, Cotton, Pale blue (color), Woven dots, White (color), Bloused-front bodice, Pouched bodice, Mono-bosom, Long sleeves, Full sleeves, Front opening, Floor-length skirt, Gores, Reticella lace, Needle lace, Chemical lace, Machine-made lace, Pin-tucks, Yoke, Collar, Cuffs, Waist-stay ribbon, Hooks, Ruffle, Pleats, Knife pleats, Inverted box pleats, Topstitching, Cotton-covered buttons, Embroidery, Snowflakes, Belts (costume accessories), Machine-sewn, Hand-sewn, Jameson (donor)