We are so very fortunate and indebted to the early photographers to have little windows into the mid 19th century, but even still.....it is hard for one to imagine how absolutely beautiful the colours must have been. There were definitely unique pallets of colour, changing and evolving as the dyers developed new colors in their dye baths. From the above late 1840's daguerreotype, it is obvious the girl's dress is pretty.........but I imagine it was stunning in colour.
My little Pip is modeling a c1840 child's bodice for you today~ I have a general rule to not keep bodices that have been unpicked from their skirting, but this one was too rich in pattern and colour to ignore. Basting stitches are evident at the bottom of the waistband. Both wear to the folds of the fan front, and slight stains on the interior lining are evidence that it was indeed worn as a dress by a child~ either girl or boy at this age(2-3 yr). Pippin will be 3 yr in Sept, and it fits her perfect.
The back closure is hand made button holes & little brass buttons. One is absent on the waistband. All seams are piped. The fabric is a beautiful block printed wool blend challis~ medium weight and slightly scratchy. The texture of early textiles must be experienced in person, as there is nothing to describe the unique hand of them in words
I date this bodice to 1840 mainly from the sleeve construction and fabric design. The middle of the 1830's saw HUGE gigot sleeves at their largest ever, from about 1836, they started deflating~ first the huge puffs were banded and tucked at the shoulders pushing the 'puff' down lower on the arm. Eventually the puff disappeared all together, and in most of the 1840's, sleeves were very high up under the armpits, and nearly skin tight. The little short sleeves on this bodice are gathered and pleated at their tops in late 1830's fashion, the little ruffles having mint trim of mint green wool braid. This type of braid was very popular for trim on children's clothes during the 1840-70 time period.
Having this little bodice just makes my mind race as to what the skirting was unpicked and made into.....a lady's pocket? Mending or for patchwork, maybe. Perhaps a little dolly's dress? In my perfect world, it is lying neatly folded in an attic trunk, waiting for me to find it and give it back to its bodice..................