Monday, March 20, 2017

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1820s Green Dress - Basic Measurements and Sleeve Examination

Hey Everyone!

Abby here with another post about the 1820s Green Silk Lustring Dress that has recently come into my possession. (You can read about how I got the dress here. If you're curious as to why I've dated it in the 1820s check out the post here.)

Like I promised and many of you have asked, I'm now going to share with you those fun detail shots, interior pictures, and discuss my construction notes with you. Due to the insane amount of images and notes I've taken on this thing, I'm going to break up the posts into 3 parts: Sleeves, Bodice, and Skirt. Today, we're going to look at my general observations, list of measurements, and the sleeves.

General Observations

- Dress is made up of a bodice with separate skirt. Made up of bottle green silk lustring. Due to fading in places where moisture was present, I am inclined to believe that this green dress was created using yellow and blue dye & not arsenic.
- Minimal signs of damage (tears, holes, shatters).
- No evidence of major remakes or refashioning.
- Threads appear to be mostly 2 kinds. 1 of green silk and 1 of green (faded to yellow in some places) cotton or linen(?) There is black thread used in some cases which might be evidence of later mending & possible mild alteration.
- Bodice is lined in glazed cotton or linen. Unable to confirm without microscope.
- Waistband appears to be of a coarse linen. Also unable to confirm fiber content.
- Sleeves are Unlined.
- Original button still in place at the skirt (and OMG it's so cute!)
- Hooks and eyes are missing.
- Hem of skirt is faced in a brown cotton or linen, and then wrapped in what appears to be a green worsted wool.

Cute button is cute!
List of Measurements

Bust: 30-31"
Shoulder to Shoulder: 20" (dropped shoulder)
Bodice Length: CF- 10.25" CB - 13.375"
Bodice Waist:  26-28"
Skirt Waist: approx 25" (Altered to make smaller. Original size probably around 28")
Sleeve Length: 31.5"/14 nails* (top) & 23.5"/10+ nails (under)
Sleeve Poof: 23" around & about 13.5"/6 nails long (interior tape holding the poof in place is 6.25"/about 3 nails)
Sleeve Wrist: 9" around
9" up from Wrist: 10.75" around
Hem Circumference: 97.5" (5 panels of silk @ selvage to selvage approx. 19.5" wide)
Skirt Length: 40.25" long (not including waistband)

* "nails" is another form of measurement used during this period to get to ell (nail/quarters/ell). Special shout out to A Fashionable Frolick for my housewife w/ my special measuring tape that has nails and quarters marked out for me!
Screenshot from Workwoman's Guide that explains the units of measure. 1 English = 45" and 1 French Ell = 54"...do these numbers sound familiar? Now you know why fabrics are woven at those widths! It's a holdover from this unit of measure. :) 

Now let's talk about the sleeves:


This is the "deflated" sleeve with the broken interior tape. I used this one for my measurements.
Here's the broken tape. You can see how it was reattached with the black thread, but the other side is out of the same greenish thread that is seen all over the dress. I would guess this is linen tape. The other side is a later twill tape fix. 



Detail of the piping and gathering on the sleeve

This the end of the piping that is at the edge of the sleeve. It was originally split up the wrist with piping on the edge. It was whipped closed with the black thread later. I believe the piping is a natural wool yarn 1 to 2 yarns thick in the channel. 
Here's an interior shot of the piping at the wrist (shown above). You can see the knot (!) that secures the faded green thread. The piping is made with running stitches (visible).
There is piecing at the underside of the top of the sleeve. It's mostly invisible from the outside. I'm curious as to how common this was in silk gowns of the period, and if there was a standard "piecing" technique used. It makes sense since we need a lot of fullness at the sleeve head and the silk was only 19.5" wide.  


Another view with the side seam. They're about 3/4" wide and backstitched (12-14 stitches per inch). Also see where the green dye has faded to yellow due to the moisture? The blue dye faded away with the sweat. 



Top of armscye. You can see the back-stitching stops, and it seems like the are just running stitches holding the top of the sleeve in place. I'm a little unsure about what is really going on here. It's very messy, and hard to see. 

Silk side of the same sleeve. Just...yeah...messy. Overcasting....running stitches..just..everywhere. 

Alright, that's it for today! Next week we'll keep looking at the gown (either skirt or bodice - I have yet to decide as of writing this post).
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3 comments:

  1. This is a great idea for a series: A close-up look at a surviving historical find, including an explanation of the features to be seen both inside and out. Thanks so much for doing this!

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  2. Wow, totally invaluable! Looking at the messy stitch work in the sleeve, I am reminded of what I see often when I go to the local not for profit costume rental house. Somebody has worn a dress onstage and whoopsie the puff sleeve tears out, so Mrs Helpful grabs a needle and thread during intermission, doesn't matter what color thread, and whomps it down in a few nail biting minutes in the dark backstage. Nobody later revisits the spot to correct the placement, color, etc. it just lives on to be worn again until it tears somewhere else. I'm wondering if that polished cotton didn't provide extra stability for the silk? Maybe the piping quits early in that sleeve because they lowered the sleeve hem for another wearer? Don't you wish this dress could talk! Thanks again, you guys are amazing.

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  3. Absolutely fascinating! Thank you for posting in such detail.

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