Tuesday, October 27, 2015

In the middle of a remake in the middle of the 19th century dress

From the seller:

Circa late 1840-1860’s..lovely colors on this silk taffeta ladies ballgown with lovely silk roses in the design.Bodice or sleeves might have been altered at some point,A nice gown for display… The gown is in fair mainly strong condition, but there is some damage on bodice and sleeves.The bottom of the gown has splitting and there is some scattered splitting overall. Top part of skirt is much stronger.. Will display nicely if desired or quite alot of fabric can be used if desired…Think most of the pretty rose silk could be used.. though I think it might be worth stabilizing the gown so it can be displayed.

From Me:
A lot is two words, not one.

There is a lot going on with this dress (see what I did there?). First, I's pretty sure this was originally a much bigger 1840's ballgown. I'd love to know the measurements of this one because it just doesn't look that dramatically tiny but you can see someone took it in by at least two inches on either side at the "stomacher" points on the front. For comparison in cuts, check out this extant 1840's ballgown.

One very dramatic detail that is different here is the button front and the lack of a point in the waist. These are details more commonly associated with the mid and late 1860's. However, a ballgown bodice with a real button front? Maybe this was to have sleeves added and the seamstress just got too frustrated with the piecing? After all, the back looks beautifully pieced together but the front is a hot mess.  We aren't even going to get into the details of that skirt.  That's beyond hope.  

The pattern of the fabric is interesting - many of the 19th c fabrics would look wild or downright modern to our eyes and this is no exception.  This looks more like someone's Laura Ashely drapery via the late 80's, early 90's than the mid 19th century to me.  However, it really is at least 1840's if not much older!

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