Costume; Clothing; Main garments; Dresses
1910s. One-piece white silk dress, closing in front, with elbow-length sleeves and draped panels in front and back embellished with embroidery and fringe over an ankle-length skirt.
The dress has a foundation layer and an embellished draped layer. The foundation layer involves both the very fine plain-weave silk and a thin cream cotton lining. The lining provides the structure of the bodice and is made of five pieces: two front panels each with a small vertical dart from waist to bust and a horizontal dart from the center to the bust, two side-back panels, and one back panel with a vertical dart at the waist defining the small of the back. The lining’s center-front opening has nine hooks and is 24.8 cm / 9.75 in. high. The rest of the foundation layer is silk, sewn to the cotton. Elbow-length sleeves are sewn to the lining, and the sides and left front of the lining are covered with fitted panels of silk, though the front silk panel is not full width. Instead, it forms a diagonal from the inner edge of the shoulder seam to the center-front waist, leaving the lining exposed at center. Beneath this, six silk gored ankle-length silk skirt panels are sewn directly to the bodice hem, leaving a slit at the left front hip which is secured by seven hooks and one hook at the waist edge.
The rest of the dress is draped in place, with one front and one back panel hanging from the shoulder seams and neckline and leaving the sides open. The 68.6 cm / 27 in. wide panels are shorter than the foundation, measuring 97.8 cm / 38.5 in. long in front and 108 cm / 42.5 in. long in back. The left side of the front panel is not sewn in at the bodice, so as to access the lining’s opening, hooking into place at the shoulder seam with three hooks and to the waist and skirt at the left hip with eight hooks. Above the waist, the front panel’s fullness is brought to the bodice sides with pleats, leaving the center front smooth, and at the waist a horizontal slash in the fabric allows the skirt to extend around the side to meet the edge of the back skirt. In back, the fullness is evenly gathered across the waistline. Flat trim made from the same silk, 1.3 cm / 0.5 in. wide, is sewn to the full-length edges and hems of both panels over a silk fringe; this also decorates the hems of the sleeves. In the bodice, a second row of the trim is added next to this from the waist in front, over the shoulders, and to the back waist, and another pair of the trim strips is sewn vertically at center back from the neckline to the waist. A 50.8 cm / 20 in. long silk sash covers the waistline at the sides and back of the dress, hiding the foundation layer waist seam, draped layer back waist gathers, and trim ends. This sash emerges from beneath a 5.1 cm / 2 in. diameter decorative coil, made from the same silk, sewn at the base of the bodice trim on the right side of the front panel, and a matching coil is sewn to the other end of the sash; this hooks to the dress at the left side of the front panel.
The draped layer is embroidered on the bodice front, cuffs, and skirt hem with white satin stitch and openwork floral elements, and the skirt hems of both front and back draped panels have an insertion of 3.8 cm / 1.5 in. wide ecru cotton machine-made lace. Another ecru cotton machine-made lace edges the scooped neckline of the dress. Machine-sewn and hand-sewn.
Bust: 96.5 cm / 38 in.
Waist: 69.2 cm / 27.25 in.
Shoulder: 13.3 cm / 5.25 in.
Sleeve: 61.1 cm / 24.25 in.
Hem: 236.2 cm / 93 in.
Length (jacket): 73.7 cm / 29 in.
Length (skirt): 105.4 cm / 41.5 in.
Gift of Mary Pepperrell Ffrost Sawyer, Margaret Hamilton Ffrost, and Elizabeth Rollins Ffrost
University of New Hampshire Library
Astrida Schaeffer, photographer/curator
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
Dresses, 1910s, Dover, New Hampshire, United States, One-piece dresses, Silk, White (color), Front-closing, Elbow-length sleeves, Ankle-length skirt, Draped panels, Embroidery, Fringe, Chemical lace, Machine-made lace, Ecru (color), Plain-weave silk, Cotton lining, Cream (color), Darts, Hooks, Gores, Silk trim, Silk sash, Decorative coil, Embroidery, Satin stitch, Floral elements, Machine-sewn, Hand-sewn, Ffrost Sawyer (donor), Hamilton Ffrost (donor), Rollins Ffrost (donor), Ffrost (donor), Frost (donor)