Irma G. Bowen Historic Clothing Collection


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Costume; Clothing; Main garments; Dresses


Panne velvet, silk charmeuse, rhinestones, glass seed beads


1929. Sleeveless one-piece sheath dress made with cream panne velvet, embroidered with cream silk scallops, silver thread, silvered glass seed beads, and rhinestones, and with six floating panels edged in rhinestones creating a floor-length hem in back and a mid-calf hem in front over a calf-length main skirt.

The dress bodice has no shaping and is cut from two pieces of cream panne velvet: one front panel and one back panel, cut with a low scooped neckline and joined at the sides with a 24.1 cm / 9.5 in. long seam. Simple two-ply 21.6 cm / 8.5 in. long pieces of narrow cord function as the shoulder straps. The velvet panels are 1.3 cm / 0.5 in. longer than the cream silk charmeuse lining, also made with one front and one back panel, which forces a slight pouching at the waist seam. The lining has an additional rectangular panel floating across the bust, 17.1 cm / 6.75 in. high. The skirt has one front and one back panel, rectangles sewn smoothly to the slightly dropped waist seam. The side seams are 53.2 cm / 21 in. long with an additional 23.5 cm / 9.25 in. slit left open at the hem on both sides. Rather than a full lining, the skirt has one free-floating 19.7 cm / 7.7 in. wide weighted rectangle, sewn only to the waist seam, at center front and another at center back.

The velvet is embroidered with Art Deco scallops of graduating size, beginning at the sides of the front and wrapping to the back, with the grouped effect of stylized clouds or wings. In front, smaller clusters of these decorate the hips in the skirt and the bottom of the bodice. All are made the same way, edged with silvered glass seed beads and embroidered with cream untwisted flat silk. Some have centers of looped silver thread (now tarnished), some have clusters of rhinestones, some have both. The smallest and shallowest scallops, at the beginning of each grouping, are laid out along diagonal rays of rhinestones. Short rays of rhinestones emanate from each successive layer of scallops.

Six petal- or wing-shaped floating panels of velvet are hand-sewn to the outside of the skirt along the bottom of each embroidered scallop grouping, each panel attached only at its top and with its raw edge turned under, shaped to fit the embroidery. The rest of each panel is left loose to drape, and its free sides are hemmed with rhinestones. The two panels in back are 81.3 cm / 32 in. at their longest, and are tacked together over a weight at a single point toward the hem to hide the shorter dress skirt beneath them. The panel at each side is 57.2 cm / 22.5 in. at its longest, and overlaps the back panel. At the front, the two panels have the most complex attachment to the skirt, sewn in along three rhinestone rays as well as to three scallops. The front panels are 60 cm / 23.625 in. at their longest and overlap the side panels.

The dress pulls on over the head. Machine-sewn and hand-sewn.


Bust: 66 cm / 36 in.
Waist (dropped): 92.7 cm / 36.5 in.
Hem (underdress): 132.1 cm / 52 in.
Length (skirt back): 94 cm / 37 in.
Length (skirt front): 70.5 cm / 27.75 in.


Owned by Mrs. G. M. Dahl, October 10, 1929. A production label sewn to the lining provides Mrs. Dahl's name and the date "10/10/29"

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, 1929, Evening dresses, One-piece dresses, Sheath dresses, Sleeveless, Scooped neckline, Panne velvet, Cream (color), Art Deco, Embroidery, Scalloping, Silk, Silver (metal), Tarnished, Silvered beads, Glass beads, Seed beads, Rhinestones, Floor-length hem, Mid-calf hem, Calf-length hem, Cord, Silk charmeuse, Pouching, Flat silk, Floating panels, Machine-sewn, Hand-sewn