Irma G. Bowen Historic Clothing Collection


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Costume; Clothing; Main garments; Dresses


Cotton voile, silk satin


1910s. Embroidered white cotton voile one-piece dress, closing in front, with elbow-length sleeves and ankle-length black silk satin skirt and sash.

The dress repurposes a white voile hand-embroidered shawl, 91.4 cm / 36 in. wide and at least 279.4 cm / 110 in. long, whose four sides are framed with embroidery and whose ends are heavily embroidered with white cotton using padded satin stitch, stem stitch, chain stitch, buttonhole stitch, and openwork in sprays of flowers, plumes, and scallops. The heavily embroidered ends are cut off to make the two 91.4 cm / 36 in. wide and 78.7 cm / 31 in. (visible) long skirt overlay panels which wrap around from front to back on each side, each of which are tightly gathered to a ribbon waistband but are not sewn to each other, leaving the centers open to reveal the black silk satin underskirt. This underskirt has four gored panels slightly gathered to a waistband and is 88.9 cm / 35 in. long, extending slightly past the voile.

Another section of the shawl is cut off and then divided in half vertically to make the two 43.8 cm / 17.25 in. (visible) long bodice front panels, which have their embroidered edges oriented to the center as a kind of bodice trim and meet only at the waist; the resulting deep V neckline is filled with an embroidered net lace. The back of the bodice is made the same way, except the 38.7 cm / 15.25 in. (visible) long panels are sewn together up the center, embroidered edge to embroidered edge, with a small triangular patch of the embroidered voile filling a 8.9 cm / 3.5 in. wide gap at the back of the neck.

The front and back panels of the bodice are sewn together at the sides and are gathered to the waistband. At the shoulder seam they are slightly gathered, draping over the top of the arm to form the top of the sleeve. There is no scye seam. The sleeves are extended with a 22.9 cm / 9 in. deep section of the shawl, using 30.5 cm / 12 in. of the embroidered edge as a decorative band above a 6.4 cm / 2.5 in. wide embroidered net lace cuff.

The bodice and sleeves are supported over a layer of cream cotton net which closes with one hook in front at the left panel edge. The embroidered net lace is secured over this with one snap.

While the bodice closes at center front, the skirt has a more complex closure. The two waistbands and a narrow black satin sash are sewn together around the dress except for the left front, where the joined waistbands have snaps and hooks to secure them to the bodice and center of the underskirt, and the sash snaps over the left hip. The underskirt itself has a left front opening with six snaps. Machine-sewn and hand-sewn.


Bust: 94 cm / 37 in.
Waist: 73.7 cm / 29 in.
Shoulder and sleeve (neckline to cuff): 66 cm / 26 in.
Length (overall): 119.4 cm / 47 in.


Gift of Janet and Robert Varney

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, 1910s, One-piece dresses, Front-closing, Elbow-length sleeves, Ankle-length skirt, Sash, Shawl, Embroidery, Hand-embroidered, Cotton voile, White (color), Padded satin stitch, Stem stitch, Chain stitch, Buttonhole stitch, Openwork, Flowers, Plumes, Scalloping, Ribbon waistband, Silk satin, Black (color), Gores, Net lace, Lace cuffs, Cotton net, Hooks, Snaps, Machine-sewn, Hand-sewn, Varney (donor)