Irma G. Bowen Historic Clothing Collection


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Costume; Childrenswear; Girls’ wear, Dresses


Silk, cotton, lace


1880s. Three-piece shot silk taffeta child’s dress woven with a salmon colored ground and maroon checks, the bodice closing in front, with a tabbed peplum and full-length curved-seam sleeves, and a separate short bustled skirt draped with a separate single-lobed bow.

The bodice is made of seven pieces: three in front with a center panel buttoning to the left front, and four in back with a two-part center back and flanking side back panels. The center front panel is wider at the top, narrowing toward the waist, and is ruched at the top with thirteen horizontal rows of stitches which then release the fabric into vertical folds (now sharply creased but might originally have been left soft) before being ruched once more at the bottom with eleven horizontal rows of stitches. Eighteen glass buttons are sewn decoratively to the right side of the panel, matching the nineteen functional glass buttons on the left side. A 12.7 cm / 5 in. deep set of squared tabs are sewn to the bodice hem to form a peplum. The hem dips low in front and in back continues into a squared-off tab or coat-tail, which has four decorative buttons on either edge. The coat-tail is draped over a separate single-lobed bow with a single streamer, shaped from one width of the fabric 87.63 cm / 34.5 in. long. The neck is high and has a fall of 2 in. wide lace gathered to it.

The sleeves are slightly gathered at the scye, fit smoothly through the arm, and are constructed with two curved seams. They are finished with turned-back cuffs 4.44 cm / 1.75 in. deep, left open at the back sleeve seam where the gap is filled by a frill of lace.

The skirt has five panels sewn to a plain brown cotton waistband. The center front and side panels are cut narrow at the waist and widen to the hem, but because the fabric is narrow, just 43.18 cm / 17 in. wide, godets are added to create the desired skirt width. There are two panels in back, one at the full fabric width and another cut to 20.32 cm / 8 in. wide, and these are cartridge pleated to either side of the center back skirt opening. The skirt hem is decorated with two rows of knife pleats, the top row is 5.39 cm / 2.125 in. wide and the bottom row is 5.715 cm / 2.25 in. wide.

The entire garment is flat-lined with white cotton twill. Machine-sewn and hand-sewn.


Chest: 68.58 cm / 27 in.
Waist: 69.85 / 27.5 in.
Shoulder: 10.16 / 4 in.
Sleeve: 35.56 cm / 14 in.
Hem: 162.56 / 64 in.
Length (skirt front): 45.72 cm / 18 in.
Length (skirt back): 50.8 / 20 in.

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.


Girls' dresses, 1880s, Three-piece dresses, Shot silk taffeta, Salmon (color), Maroon (color), Checker pattern, Tabs, Pelplum, Full-length sleeves, Curved-seam sleeves, Short skirt, Bustled skirt, Bows (costume accessories), Ruching, Glass buttons, Coat-tail, High neck, Lace, Cuffs, Waistband, Cotton, Brown (color), Godets, Cartridge pleats, Knife pleats, Cotton twill lining, White (color), Machine-sewn, Hand-sewn