Costume; Clothing; Main garments; Dresses
Silk faille, cotton
1893. Maroon silk faille two-piece wedding dress made to resemble a jacket and blouse, closing in front, with full-length curved-seam fitted sleeves and high collar, and floor-length skirt pleated and ruched to a waistband with more fullness in back.
The bodice has a complex structure of eight pieces, all cut to go past the waist and flaring over the top of the hips in a peplum: two front panels with two long darts each going from the bust into the peplum, two side panels, two side-back panels, and two back panels with a center-back seam. All the darts and all the seams are boned with metal stays. The front panel on the right side extends past the center to hook closed along the edge of the narrower left panel with thirteen hooks, wrapping around the base of the collar and up to the shoulder to latch at the shoulder seam with two hooks. The middle of the panel is decorated with ruching and knife pleats to mimic a blouse or shirtwaist and comes to a sharp point at center, emphasized with more pleats. On either side of this, fabric is added in at the shoulder, scye, and side seams to mimic jacket lapels; the right lapel floats above the “blouse” while the left lapel hooks to the “blouse” with twelve hooks. A 5.7 cm / 2.25 in. high stiff collar is sewn in place from the right side and to the back, with 12.7 cm / 5 in. free on the left side to allow dressing, hooking to the finished edge of the neckline beneath. All but the center-front panels of the bodice are flat-lined to a tan twill cotton printed with black gridlines. At center front, the lining is free-floating and buttons closed with fourteen buttons. Beneath this layer, 11.7 cm / 4.625 in. wide pieces of the lining fabric are sewn in at the first darts and meet at center front to form a waist stay closing with five hooks and eyes.
The sleeves are full length and fitted to the arm, with a two-seam construction that is set smoothly into the scye and are gathered on the outside seam at the elbow. Three bias strips are stacked together at the cuff from the outside seam, over the front of the wrist, and to the inside seam. There is no trim on the inside sleeve section. A narrow strip of lace is basted inside the sleeve hem and peeks out beneath the trim. At the upper arm, a length of fabric is softly pleated from 30.5 cm / 12 in. down to 15.2 cm / 6 in. and sewn into the scye on top of the completed fitted sleeve. This is sewn down to the arm across the outside of the sleeve to create a puffed effect, after which the remaining fabric is crisply knife pleated and the entire construction narrows down to a knot 3.2 cm / 1.25 in. wide, sewn to the sleeve 21.6 cm / 8.5 in. from the shoulder.
The skirt has a 3.2 cm / 1.25 in. wide waistband overlapping at center back and closing with two hooks and eyes. Both a foundation layer of polished brown cotton and the silk faille are sewn to this. Ten panels of the 52.7 cm / 20.75 in. wide silk are arranged in a series of pleats floating above the foundation layer. Five wide double-stacked box pleats encircle the waist from the front of the right hip to the side of the left hip. At the top front of the left hip, a double set of ruching made with four shirring rows each is released into the skirt in large knife pleats. Narrow knife pleats radiate toward the center front of the dress from the ruched zone at the left hip and the wide box pleat at the right hip.
The story of the dress is one of American immigrant success. Johanna and Jens (John) Peterson married in Concord, Massachusetts in 1893, both émigrés from Denmark. Jens was a cabinet maker in Nashua, New Hampshire. Their only child, Walter, was in turn father to Walter R. Peterson: grandson of immigrants, college president, and 72nd governor of the state of New Hampshire. Machine-sewn and hand-sewn.
Bust: 82.6 cm / 32.5 in.
Waist: 67.3 cm / 26.5 in.
Shoulder: 10.8 cm / 4.25 in.
Sleeve: 58.4 cm / 23 in.
Hem (foundation layer): 208.3 cm / 82 in.
Length (skirt front): 99.1 cm / 39 in.
Length (skirt back): 105.4 cm / 41.5 in.
Gift of Dorothy and Walter R. Peterson Jr.
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, Wedding dresses, Going away dresss, Best dresses, 1893, Nashua, New Hampshire, United States, Silk faille, Maroon (color), Peplum, Boned darts, Metal stays, Hooks, Ruching, Knife Pleats, High collar, Stiff collar, Twill cotton lining, Tan (color), Black (color), Printed, Buttons, Waist stay, Hooks and eyes, Lace, Waistband, Polished cotton, Glazed cotton, Brown (color), Box pleats, Machine-sewn, Hand-sewn, Johanna Peterson, Jens Peterson, John Peterson, Walter R. Peterson, Immigrants, Peterson (donor)