Saturday, February 09, 2008

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.


Barbara said...

I think Emma was born too late! She would have made the perfect little 19th century girl and she would have been able to wear WHITE. (Except when the mood came upon her to apply makeup or do some fancy "mud" baking! Ha! Ha!) I love hearing about your garments as much as seeing them.
LY, Mom

Lone pierette said...

Hi Rachel - what a wonderful dress and girl ! Thank you so much for showing all the details !


Christine LeFever said...

What a beautiful display, Rachael. Emma is so very sweet; it looks as though she is remembering from a previous lifetime!


Lorraine said...

Emma looks soooo beautiful!! I love that dress!! Stop by my blog when you get a chance for my give-away!

Dixie Redmond said...

Beautiful. Thanks for showing us.