Girl's White Muslin Dress, 1839-1842
This is a fine corded muslin dress fitting a girl from 6-7 yrs of age. From the several rows of hand sewn cording at the hem, this was most likely a best dress. 'Whites' were common underthings in the 19th century because they could be easily laundered~ but an outer dress such as this, would have belonged to a wealthy child. It was considered a symbol of priveledge and high status to have a 'white' gown...because you literally couldn't do much or you would get it dirty.
It is entirely and sewn with fine, minute hand stitches. The long sleeves are actually 2 part~ they are just tacked on under the ruffle at the elbow so they can be removed easily to make the sleeves half length
Emma is not wearing a set of stays, because she is small enough to wear this dress without them. Its original owner would have had a pair of soft stays, with perhaps a wooden busk up the front for rigidity. Note the horizantal creases under the armpits~ this is classic early 1840 fitting. The armcyes were set very high, and narrow~ this gave the wearer a longer looking torso.
1836 was the height of frills and huge gigot sleeves. From 1837 things started to slim down~ the sleeves gradually deflated, until they were worn nearly skin tight in the 1840s. The bodice of our little dress here still retains a bit of 1830s styling~ the decorative piping up the front and lower wide neckline.
Center back closes with hand hammered brass hooks & eyes
Here is a section of the hem, showing the teensy weensie hand done cording. This was mainly decorative, but still helped support the fullness of the skirt.