Tuesday, January 31, 2012

An Antique Edwardian Gown: Inside and Out

I originally bought this gown with the hopes that it was in good enough condition to wear. When it arrived, I was disappointed to find that it was much too fragile. The overdress is made of such a fine and delicate fabric that it has worn through in places and the coral body of the gown has a few rips as well. I very much wanted to clean and press this dress for photos but I'm too worried about destroying it, so please excuse the years of dirt and it's wrinkly state.

The silver lining in all this is that the dress is still incredibly useful for study.

I have many Victorian/Edwardian tailoring books, but nothing is quite like seeing the real thing. The construction of Edwardian era gowns has always been such a mystery to me. So many hooks and snaps and weights and layers and linings and blah blah blah. I have a few day dresses from the era, but I have never had the opportunity to see a more formal dress. Inspecting this gown has been fascinating.

To note, I am inferring that this dress is from around 1910, due to the style of the over dress and the shape of the train. If anyone has a better idea of year, please do share. The dress appears to be coral silk satin with an overdress of charcoal silk chiffon(?). The embroidery looks to be silk as well. Quite a lot of this dress (except the long seams perhaps) is hand stitched.

Loads and loads and loads of pictures ahead!

Note the interesting shape of the train.

Gilt rope bow detail.
Slightly tarnished with age.

Looking at the stitching, you
can see the net is hand embroidered.

Each of those bumps is a pocket in the tape that holds
a weight. I'm assuming a lead weight. It goes around the
circumference of the overdress

The split open side seam of the over dress
meets at the bottom...

...But is open on both sides of the
bodice like this.

Note the decorative little coral pieces attached to the
bodice. They are under the sheer layer.

You can see the three layers in the sleeve.
The middle layer is a gilt lace.

Looking through a hole in the underarm.

The seams in the sheer layers and lace are french seams.

Of the two gilt ropes, the lower rope is wrapped in the
overdress fabric.

There is a layer of the gilt lace across the bust.

Note the small stitches securing the
gilt lace to the white.

The collar is edged in satin and trimmed also with the gilt lace.

Back view!

To hold up the lace collar, there are five
thin "wavy"  wires.

One wire is enclosed in the seam.

The opaque cream ruffle is sandwiched in
between the outer bodice and a lining of
mesh. The ruffle is a stiff, starchy fabric.
Presumably to shape the outer bodice.

Millions of hook and eyes!
Ladies maid please!

The inner waistband, made of a sturdy tape.

Note the bone casing along the waistband.
There are five bones.

Note the hand over-casted selvedge.

See the skirt flipped up. Along the back half of the skirt
there are four one-inch diameter flat circular weights,
encased in fabric.

This casing is missing its weight.

The insides of the sleeves are finished in a french seam.