Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Mid 1860's Maternity Dress

From the seller:

This is a c.1865 challis dress in an unusual color combination for the era. The mauve stripe alternates with a brown solid stripe and a white and brown dotted design. The lining is a brown print dress fabric, the sleeves are lined with solid brown cotton. It fastens with interesting two color vegetable ivory buttons, all original and present. It's piped at the sleeves. The skirt has a flat front and sides, is pleated towards the back, with a cotton waistband, no button. There is a charming pouch pocket in front, seen just below the jacket ruffle on the left; wool tape at the bottom, a brown cotton hem.
It's 39 3/4" measured around the bust, 16" between the shoulder seams, 27" long in back from the collar seam to the hem. The skirt has a 24" waist, is about 42" long.
This charming outfit has many nibbles, large and small, you can see most of them in the pics. The worst areas are to the skirt, seen in the rear full view pic, and the damage to the ruffled collar, shown in a closeup. The lining is very good, however. There are several inches of skirt in back at the opening that need to be repleated and sewn back to the waistband, this involves about 5" of waistband. The spots near the left shoulder and in a few other places are condensation from the steamer and have since disappeared.
Though offered for "study", the excellent condition of the lining would make it suitable for gentle, short term wear, but please remember the waistband needs some sewing. 

From Me:

Given that the jacket is loose, my guess is this is actually a maternity outfit. I could be wrong and it could just be a house dress but it looks a bit too colorful for that.


  1. Great find! Wish the seller had taken more images of the skirt construction. I am curious about how the waistband was adapted for a growing belly. I seriously doubt ANY pregnant woman had a 24" waist!

  2. .... unless it was worn just below the bust. The skirt length is pretty long (42") for a dress from this period.

  3. @Susan ; that's my guess -either above the belly or the waist was redone post pregnancy and she never got around to taking in the jacket as well. Both seem pretty common. Also, she might never have bothered to wear the skirt closed and just rigged it so that it was pinned to the inside of the jacket.

  4. I would say late 1860's, to 70's House dress, not maternity.
    The waistband would not be adjustable, but even if it were a new waistband (which they did) there would be some evidence of this, as is, it has a gored front panel which means it would have been cut like that to start with, or completely redone.