Thursday, October 13, 2011

American Civil War Era day dress

From the seller:

One can fully appreciate the pride these ladies took in their appearance as well as their signature of excellent workmanship done lovingly with nimble and artistic fingers, as well a talented eagle eye for fashionable detail and elaborate embellishments from buttons to pleats and so much more. It is amazing to see the combination of contrasting fabrics and textures and the wonderful details that these ladies applied to a single outfit. We see nothing like this today.
This piece displays very well and is strong enough to wear.
Today I am pleased to share with you this lovely speckled print dress gown done in a Light Mocha/Tan with a hint of a pink tone in the background speckled with darker light brown/tan flecks. The fabric is very very tightly woven and is of a medium weight. A very strong fabric of cotton woven perhaps with a blend of silk? This fabric does not shatter as silk or taffeta does, however I do see a bit of a sheen. The fabric has a very firm hand and is just a bit coarse when you run your hand across it. The fabric holds it shape well. I hope this helps.
This is a one piece dress gown in a button down front style. The buttons are most interesting as they appear to be shiny fabric covered over by net (see pictures) I have a very large collection of buttons but not one like these. The dropped shoulders are trimmed with very thin piping as is the neck and waist area. The sleeves adorn hand sewn velvet and lace which adds simplistic elegance to this gown. The skirt portion is very very full and displays just beautifully. Has that swish with movement that we all love to see. Easily accommodates a bustle which adds even more graceful elegance.
The hem is trimmed out in the so called dust catcher and certainly has helped to preserve the bottom skirt portion of this gown.
The gown closes at the waist with hook and eye which is present. The bodice is fully lined including sleeves. The skirt portion is lined in a stiff canvas like fabric about 10 inches down to bottom edge of skirt portion.
There is a hidden side pocket at right front side.

From Me:

Based on the way the  shoulders are, I wouldn't be surprised if this was originally an older gown that was redone in the 1860's to keep up with the current fashion.  The fan look to the bodice was more popular in the late 1840's into the 1850's.


  1. I agree with you EXACTLY. It's definitely a post-1865 skirt, with a very flat front and a lot of length and fullness in the back. The sleeves were definitely cut down, too; that's a typical 1860s two-piece sleeve, with the narrower cut of the later 1860s.

    What's interesting is that the seamstress did not bother to change the bodice at all. The particular look of that front is a dead giveaway of the classic late 1840s/1850s look. She didn't shorten the bodice at all, either. And whereas 1840s/50s bodices tended to be longer than waist length, 1860s, and particularly post-1865, bodices were 1-2" above waist length. That would have been a simple alteration for this lady, especially with the skirt already off. Do you know if they had those 3-piece backs in the 1850s? They're the norm in the 1860s, but I honestly don't know about earlier.

  2. @nuranar - I'm glad you commented! I honestly didn't even think about the construction of the bodice beyond "Hey, those shoulders are older looking" I looked back through my archive an found this one:

    It's the only one that has a similar back construction. Given the source, I'm not arguing with the 1852 date (the seller is one of two I know knows their stuff).

  3. the cotton dress is really nice and different from other designer.. thanks for the lovely designs!!
    Pakistani Dress Collection