[My Chamber of Textile Thoughts. No: XVI | By Viveka Hansen]

Every detail of this late 1840s garment has been sewn by hand and much of the work would unquestionably require an experienced dressmaker, especially the link between skirt and bodice with its many complicated features, as is also the case with the bodice in general. On the other hand, the many long seams of running stitches in the skirt may well have been done by a girl apprentice or sent out to a seamstress specialising in this kind of simpler seam work. This is the second “Textile Thought” concentrating on the skilled dressmaking on one single Victorian dress from the Whitby Museum Costume Collection.

This detail of the dress in a ribbed silk quality in brown, grey and white displays running stitches and slip-stitching as well as still having some of the seamstress's longer tacking stitches in place. At the same time there are carefully sewn holes at regular intervals, to fit corresponding hooks on the other side of the bodice. Dress in checked silk fabric, late 1840s. (Owner: Whitby Museum, Costume Collection, 2006/42.13).  Photo: The IK Foundation & Company, London.

This detail of the dress in a ribbed silk quality in brown, grey and white displays running stitches and slip-stitching as well as still having some of the seamstress’s longer tacking stitches in place. At the same time there are carefully sewn holes at regular intervals, to fit corresponding hooks on the other side of the bodice. Dress in checked silk fabric, late 1840s. (Owner: Whitby Museum, Costume Collection, 2006/42.13). Photo: The IK Foundation, London.

This second close-up photograph of the same dress shows the pointed waist from the inside of the garment. Clearly top-hemming has fastened the silk material to an unbleached lining, while short tightly-drawn gatherings follow the line of the pointed waist. This kind of waist-shaping was characteristic of the whole decade, but the garment’s narrow sleeves suggest the later 1840s. The lower parts of the sleeves are also decorated with silk braid trims, while the voluminous nature of the skirt was typical of the period. Dress in checked silk fabric, late 1840s. (Owner: Whitby Museum, Costume Collection, 2006/42.13).  Photo: The IK Foundation & Company, London.

This second close-up photograph of the same dress shows the pointed waist from the inside of the garment. Clearly top-hemming has fastened the silk material to an unbleached lining, while short tightly-drawn gatherings follow the line of the pointed waist. This kind of waist-shaping was characteristic of the whole decade, but the garment’s narrow sleeves suggest the later 1840s. The lower parts of the sleeves are also decorated with silk braid trims, while the voluminous nature of the skirt was typical of the period. Dress in checked silk fabric, late 1840s. (Owner: Whitby Museum, Costume Collection, 2006/42.13). Photo: The IK Foundation, London.

Contemporary fashion plate depicting similar styled dresses and outerwear at the time. Illustration from “La Mode” 1848.  (Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons) [additional photo for preview].

Contemporary fashion plate depicting similar styled dresses and outerwear at the time. Illustration from “La Mode” 1848. (Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons).

To be continued with more extracts…

[Extract (Chapter 5 & research material) for the forthcoming book ‘The Textile History of Whitby 1700-1914’, see “NEWS]. PUBLISHED JUNE 15TH, 2015.

PLEASE REFERENCE AS FOLLOWS:

  • Hansen, Viveka, ‘Dress in checked Silk Fabric – late 1840s (B 4)’, TEXTILIS (February 1, 2014); http://textilis.net/ (Accessed: Day/Month/Year)