Costume; Clothing; Main garments; Dresses
c. 1848 (original), altered c. 1858. Blue and copper shot silk one-piece dress with whitework collar, buttoning in front, with pagoda sleeves and a floor-length skirt pleated to the bodice.
The bodice is made of three pieces: two front panels with three boned darts each and a single center-back panel with curved tucks at side back. It buttons closed in front with ten rectangular black glass buttons with gold embellishment, one is a replacement. The neck is high and has a cotton whitework collar basted to it. The waistline is round but shows signs of having been altered from an earlier long point configuration. The cotton lining has a center-back seam.
The shoulders are dropped. Small cap sleeves are set smoothly into the scye over flared pagoda sleeves which have one seam at the front and are faced with the dress fabric on the visible parts of the interior.
The skirt is floor-length and is made of seven straight panels sewn selvedge to selvedge, each 49.5 cm / 19.5 in. wide. The fabric is pleated to the bodice evenly around with alternating stacked knife pleats and stacked inverted pleats. The skirt lining is brown cotton, assembled in two wide sections flat-lined to the silk panels and with the remaining silk panel seams secured to the lining with large basting stitches. The skirt is equally full and long in front and back.
The three long darts per side in the bodice is typical for 1848-1852, and the bodice would originally have been longer and pointed in the front as well. In 1853-1863 fashion shifted to two shorter darts, too complicated an alteration, however adapting the dress to the new round, shorter bodice hem was easier. Evidence of this change is clear with stitch holes just below the waistline all the way around the skirt top, which dip low in front where the fabric once joined a longer bodice with a low point.
There is piping at the neck, scyes, and waist. Woven blue and gold silk trim decorates the cap and pagoda sleeve hems. Hand-sewn with machine-sewn buttonholes.
Bust: 88.9 cm / 35 in.
Waist: 64.8 cm / 25.5 in.
Sleeve: 44.5 cm / 17.5 in.
Shoulder seam: 22.9 cm / 9 in.
Hem: 379.7 cm / 149.5 in.
Skirt length: 104.1 cm / 41 in.
University of New Hampshire Library
Astrida Schaeffer, photographer/curator
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Dresses, c. 1848, Altered c. 1858, One-piece dresses, Shot silk, Blue (color), Copper (color), High neck, Whitework collar, Front buttoning, Glass buttons, Black (color), Gold embellishment, Boned darts, Curved tucks, Cotton lining, Brown (color), Dropped shoulders, Pagoda sleeves, Piping, Woven silk trim, Gold (color), Floor-length skirt, Hand-sewn, Machine-sewn