Irma G. Bowen Historic Clothing Collection


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Costume; Clothing; Main garments; Dresses


Silk, cotton


1860s. Blue, yellow, and black plaid silk dress with matching separate skirt and bodice; day bodice is front-opening with long full pagoda sleeves and a floor-length skirt pleated to a waistband. See 74 b,c for the matching evening bodice.

The bodice is made of three pieces, two front panels with two darts each, and one back piece with curved tucks. The brown twill lining has the same construction without the back tucks. The bodice has a high neck and the waist is round and at the natural level. The dress closes with five small brass buttons. A 3.8 cm / 1.5 in. wide brown polished cotton waistband has been added, covering the piping edging the bodice, which closes with one hook and eye. The neckline has fold lines and needle holes showing a onetime alteration to the original high round shape.

The shoulders are dropped. Pointed cap sleeves are sewn smoothly into the scye above very full pagoda sleeves, which are gathered to the scye. Where the cap sleeves cover the top of the pagoda sleeves, the silk beneath has been cut away, leaving only the brown lining.

The skirt has a plain silk waistband to which the eight straight panels are evenly pleated. Five of the panels are 52.1 cm / 20.5 in. wide, sewn selvedge to selvedge, and the remaining three panels are cut down to 50.8 cm / 20 in., 47.3 cm / 18.62 in., and 38.7 cm / 15.25 in. The skirt is longer in back than in front and has a center-back opening closed with one hook and eye. The skirt is lined in bright blue polished cotton.

The over-sleeve and pagoda hem are decorated with a 5.1 cm / 2 in. wide black velvet ribbon. There is piping at the neck and hem of the bodice. Of note: the plaid fabric is used differently here than for the matching evening bodice. Its prominent stripes are placed to deliberately mimic the fashionable yoke-like bodice trim of this period, low across the bust and over the shoulders. Hand-sewn.


Bust: 86.4 cm / 34 in.
Waist: 62.2 cm / 24.5 in.
Sleeve: 40.6 cm / 16 in.
Shoulder seam: 20.3 cm / 8 in.
Hem: 387.2 cm / 152.44 in.
Skirt length (front): 101.6 cm / 40 in.
Skirt length (back): 111.8 cm / 44 in.


Gift of Mary Pepperrell Ffrost Sawyer Likely worn by Susan Cowan Sawyer.

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.

Ffrost-Sawyer_history.pdf (75 kB)
Ffrost-Sawyer history


Dresses, 1860s, Day bodice, Silk, Plaid (pattern), Blue (color), Yellow (color), Black (color), Pagoda sleeves, Cap sleeves, Dropped shoulders, Front-opening, High neck, Velvet ribbon, Darts, Tucks, Brass buttons, Hooks and eyes, Piping, Floor-length skirt, Natural waistline, Polished cotton, Alteration, Hand-sewn, Ffrost Sawyer (donor), Ffrost (donor), Frost (donor)