Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Girl's Bottle Green Silk dress, 1841

    (Yesterday I was planing on posting this dress, but instead spent the entire day updating my computer so my blogger would work...so be prepared for more frequent blog posts now that I am modern once again :)                   I truly believe that things find me...... and this little dress must have been waiting for me to come along for some time.  I happened on a photo of it while searching for something totally unrelated one day. On my computer screen, it looked gold in color.  I have several gold silk gowns of this era already, so kept on with the research I was doing.....a day or so passed, and it kept popping back into my mind. I think I even had a dream about it.  Strange tho, I couldn't remember where I had seen it.  Quite a while passed, and well, you guessed it, up it popped again~ this time tho, it came to its new home.  I was quite pleasantly surprised when I opened the box and it was no where near the gold silk I had seen on my computer, but a gorgeous bottle green!

  This little tag was gently still attached to one of the eyes at the back closing.  Before I get into what it has told me....let me just thank the generations of hands that this dress has gone through, both related and not, for not removing it.  I hope that if you, dear readers, purchase things to keep or sell, with little notes attached, no matter how cryptic they may seem, keep them with the piece!  This gown is a wonderful piece of history without known provenance, but with it, History comes more alive, more easy for our minds to grasp, when we can match it with a name, and therefore a physical place in time and history.
   From clues on the tag, this dress belonged to and was worn by Mary Merrill Morse Rice in 1841 when she was indeed, 7 years old.
  Pip is modeling for me, and at the same age as Mary when she wore it, it is a perfect fit. Shown over period undergarments and one petticoat.  The dress is fully lined, hand stitched from a soft silk taffeta in the popular fashionable style of the very early 1840's with fan front bodice, just like what her Mother would have worn, but with out the yoke at the neckline.  Sleeves are long passing the wrist in length, and being set very high up under the armpits.
   Center back closure with hidden hammered hooks and eyes~ note to the upper left in the picture above, the horizontal seam where the silk has been pieced in.
   The front of the bodice is gathered in fan front style, with a ever so slight point at the waist. Hidden right front pocket is 8" deep....plenty of room for treasures!
  All major construction seams are piped, I love the little triangle of silk pieced in over the shoulder.  Textiles were still very expensive, and every tiny piece was used.

   There is but a single darn near the hem in the front, made from a matching green silk. I wonder what Mary got her dress caught on??? Was she playing??? Perhaps is got caught getting into the carriage for Church one Sunday???  I wonder if her Mother, Melissa, was upset???
  The dress is boned on both side seams with 1/4" whalebone strips, and the bodice front lightly wadded behind the gathers...perhaps to be worn during the cold Connecticut winter months.

  Here are some close views of the front and back gauging Sherri~ be sure and click on the pictures, I left them BIG so you can try and appreciate the details.

   The arrows are pointing to the single row of vertical stitching that runs the length of the side of the fan front. This type of stitching is 99% of the time ALWAYS the stitch that holds the pleats in place on 1830s gigots, especially towards the end of the decade when the fullness was gradually taken in down the arms.

  And the pretty back waist seam~ if you enlarge you can see the rows of basting stitches, one is totally hidden within the seam, one shows just beneath the piping and the 3rd at the bottom of the gathers.  


Robin's Egg Bleu said...

Absolutely gorgeous dress and it came to the right house, with the perfect girl to model it. Meant to be! What a treasure. Thanks for sharing.

Sherri Farley said...

What a charming dress, your Pip is a charmer too. I absolutely love this dress, what an exquisite color. I do have a couple questions. Is that gauging (I think it's called cartridge pleating today) attatched to the little bodice & are the basting stitches left inside the pleats to achieve that look? Are those just gathers in the center front of the bodice, is it called shirring? Oh, I would love more photos. Thank you for sharing your treasure!!

Rachael Kinnison said...

Thankyou Robin & Sherri~ I am so happy you have enjoyed it :)

TO answer your questions Sherri, yes, the technical term for the even gathers at the waistline is 'gauging', and yes, the basting stitches are left in after the garment is finished. There are normally at least 3 rows of stitching. The fan front on the bodice is referred to as gathering, tho done the same way, with rows of evenly spaced stitches, all laid first and then drawn up at the same time, with careful stroking of the gathers as one goes, so they are all perfect. There is a line of decorative stitching up each vertical end...Ill see if I have a picture and post one for you.
xoxoxo rachael

Sherri Farley said...

Rachel, Thank you so much for the larger photos & your directions. It all is clear now. I can't believe there is actually piping at the bottom of the bodice just about the gathers. Someone sewed this dress with such great skill and care. Oh, to have the chance to see such beautiful garments up close. I do envy you. I dearly love to come here even though I don't always comment.
I hand sew my little cloth country dolls all by hand. I don't have the benefit of actually seeing garments up close so your posts are a great benefit to me.

Rachael Kinnison said...

Thankyou Sherri, its my pleasure and why I love to share on the blog!