Irma G. Bowen Historic Clothing Collection


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Costume; Clothing; Main garments; Dresses; Gowns


Cotton mull


1812-1816. White cotton and embroidered cotton mull high-waisted dress, one piece, with floor-length skirt and short sleeves.

The dress is one piece, with a bodice and skirt sewn to a waistband and a center back opening. The bodice, waistband, and sleeves are made of a plain woven fine cotton, and the skirt is made of a sheer cotton mull embroidered with raised whitework dots.

The bodice has nine pieces: one rectangular front panel 11.1 cm / 4.375 in. high, flanked by a side-front and side-back panel on each side, a back panel divided in two, and shoulder straps. It is plain, unornamented cotton, likely meant to be worn with a spencer. A mend 4.4 cm / 1.75 in. long has been darned into the front of the bodice. The front panel has slight gathers at the bust where it joins the waistband and is slightly wider at the neck than at the waistband but lies straight and smooth across the neckline. The side-front and side-back panels have two layers of fabric, as does the shoulder strap, which is seamed to the side-front and center-back panels. The back panels have a drawstring in the neckline hem and are otherwise open down the center. The waistband is also open in back. Its two buttonholes have been stitched closed and the buttons are missing. There is no other closure on the dress.

The sleeves are short and puffed, with approximately 41.9 cm / 16.5 in. of fabric gathered into a 1.3 cm / 0.5 in. wide cuff band with a circumference of 28.9 cm / 11.375 in., and an armscye of 30.8 cm / 12.125 in., with all the fullness toward back of sleeve. They are plain and unornamented and have one seam. A small triangular gusset 2.54 cm / 1 in. per side adds ease to the base of the sleeve.

The skirt has four pieces and is unlined: one panel each in front and back, and two narrow gores. The panel in front is a trapezoid 48.9 cm / 19.25 in. wide at the top and is sewn flat to the waistband, wrapping around to the sides of the back; it is 82.6 cm / 32.5 in. at the hem. The back panel is 38.1 cm / 15 in. wide at the top and 76.8 cm / 30.25 in. at the hem. One gore is added in between the front and back panels on each side, measuring 1.3 cm / 0.5 in. at the waist and 15.2 cm / 6 in. wide at the hem. The back panel is slit at center for ease of dressing, and the combined 20.3 cm / 8 in. of the back and gore on each side of the slit is tightly gathered to fit 5.1 cm / 2 in. at each side of the waistband opening. The skirt is finished with a deep 5.7 cm / 2.25 in. hem and two rows of tucks above it, each approximately 3.8 cm / 1.5 in. deep. Hand-sewn.


Bust: 76.2 cm / 32 in.
Waist: 65.1 cm / 25.625 in.
Sleeve length: 12.1 cm / 4.75 in.
Hem: 191.1 cm / 75.25 in.
Skirt length (front): 97.8 cm /38.5 in.
Skirt length (back): 99.1 cm / 39 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.


Dresses, Gowns, 1812-1816, One-piece dresses, Empire, Federal, Directoire, Regency, Sheer cotton mull, Plain woven fine cotton, White (color), Embroidery, Raised whitework dots, High-waisted, Short sleeves, Puffed sleeves, Sleeve cuffs, Shoulder straps, Spencer, Waistband, Drawstring, Gores, Gussets, Darning, Hand-sewn