Irma G. Bowen Historic Clothing Collection


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Costume; Clothing; Main garments; Dresses; Housedresses




1850-1860. White cotton and lavender-striped and dotted printed housedress, one piece, buttoned with a front opening to the floor, full-length loose sleeves and a floor-length, gathered skirt.

The bodice has a three-part yoke that fits smoothly across the shoulders to along the top of the bust, and is completed with three rectangular lengths of fabric gathered to the yoke in front and back and then to the top of a 3.8 cm / 1.5 in. waistband. The fabric at the sides beneath the arms is smooth. The neck is high and the shoulders are dropped. The waistline is slightly high and round. The dress opens fully from neck to floor, buttoned with thirteen purple and white buttons, seven of them on the bodice, and with two hooks and eyes at the waist.

The full-length sleeves fit the scye smoothly and flare slightly toward the wrist. Two ruffles finish the hem of the sleeves.

The skirt is floor-length, slightly longer in back, constructed of five straight panels 80 cm / 31.5 in. wide, sewn selvedge to selvedge. The fabric is tightly gathered to the bottom of the waistband.

The bodice has a white cotton lining only in the yoke and directly under the arms to the waist, and as a small cap sleeve inside. The skirt is unlined.

Piping of the same fabric finishes the neck, yoke edge, and bottom of the waistband. Self-fabric ruffles used horizontally on the sleeves makes the printed stripes resemble trim. The waistband fabric is also used horizontally for visual emphasis. Hand-sewn.


Bust: approx. 91.4 cm / 36 in.
Waist: 76.2 cm / 30 in.
Sleeve: 50.8 cm / 20 in.
Shoulder Seam: 20.3 cm / 8 in.
Hem: 396.2 cm / 156 in.
Length of skirt (front): 100.3 cm / 39.5 in. Length of skirt (back): 108 cm / 42.5 in.


Gift of Mary Pepperrell Ffrost 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, Housedresses, Robes, Wrappers, 1850-1860, One-piece dresses, Durham, New Hampshire, United States, Cotton, White (color), Lavender (color), Stripes, Dots, Printed, Front-opening, Buttons, Hooks and eyes, Cotton lining, Full-length sleeves, Cap sleeves, Ruffles, Floor-length skirt, Hand-sewn, Ffrost Sawyer (donor), Ffrost (donor), Frost (donor)


item origin