March 17, 2018

Extant Garment: 1860s Green Plaid Dress

Happy St. Patrick's Day!  For the day that's all about the wearing of the green, I thought it appropriate to share this emerald, plaid day dress from the Point Park University Collection.

Point Park University Collection - 1860s Green Plaid Dress

If there is anything to be said of Civil War fashions, they sure loved their plaids!  Type "Civil War dresses" into any image search, and dozens of examples will probably appear.  In fact, you might even come across a green plaid dress or two, as there's seemingly no shortage of examples out there.  Here are several that I found:

Hand tinted portrait.
(Image via: Pinterest)

All the Pretty Dresses, one of my favorite resources for discovering extant garments in private collections (usually shared from Ebay, Etsy or other auction sites), had three green plaid dresses:

Green and black plaid silk dress with pagoda sleeves.
(Image via: All the Pretty Dresses)

Two-tone green plaid silk dress with velvet trim.
(Image via: All the Pretty Dresses)

Green, black, white and red plaid silk dress with pagoda sleeves.
(Image via: All the Pretty Dresses)

And yet another sold on Ebay:

Green plaid silk dress with pagoda sleeves.
(Image source: Ebay - travellingbubble)

So, it's no surprise that Point Park had one of their own hidden away...until now!  The following images may be shared and saved for personal reference, but please credit the "Point Park University Collection" - thank you!

1860s Green Plaid Dress 

This gorgeous, green plaid silk dress from the Point Park Collection is from the American Civil War Era.  It was among my favorite discoveries when I was given permission to study and photograph parts of the university's collection (more details here: project background).

Unfolding the dress, front view.

Full length view of the back.

The fabric is a green, grey and black plaid silk taffeta:

The bodice is fully lined with a tan-colored, polished cotton and has a one inch waistband.  It closes with nine 3/4" buttons and corresponding button holes up the front, and two snaps and hooks at the waistband.  The topmost button is missing, and one of buttons applied on top of the trim is decorative, rather than functional.  (A third snap on the inside serves as the closure.)

The front of the bodice closes with nine 3/4" buttons and button holes.

Close up of the center front.

The center back, from neckline to the edge of the waistband, measures 15.5" in length.

Back of the bodice.

The trim is eye-catching and interesting because the black silk bias strips were first machined through the center (to conceal the raw ends), then hand basted to the dress.  Three rows of the black silk trim are applied continuously from front to back, with the bottom edge slightly extending onto the waistband in the back.  

Notice the hand basting and curved, machine stitching details.

The two coat sleeves feature wide bands of pleated black silk to form decorative puffs.  These puffs are banded down by two bias strips - one applied at the top, and other at the bottom - to hide the stitching and raw edges.  Three bias bands at the wrist echo the the trim on the bodice.

Close up of the silk sleeve puff banded down with bias strips.

The sleeve trim echos the bodice and skirt.

In looking at the interior, one of the front darts was opened, and an extra 2" extension was added to both sides of the waistband at the center front.

Interior view of bodice.

Alterations included removing one of the front darts.

The front placket or skirt opening measures 9.5" in length.

The skirt is made from the same plaid silk and fully lined in a forest green polished cotton.  Measuring around 108" in circumference, the skirt is pleated at the front and sides, and gauged only at the center back for 5 inches.  Black wool braid was applied to protect the hem.

The skirt's trim was applied in the same way as on the bodice - machine stitching along the middle of the bias strips and then hand basting on the garment.  The 1/2" bias strips were applied rather unevenly with the average distance between each strip being 1/2", and the average distance between the groups of three being 1.5 inches.

Nine bands of black silk bias trim and wool hem braid applied to the skirt hem.

Note: In looking through the university's acquisition pictures (probably take in the early 2000s), I came the matching bodice with pagoda sleeves!  There may also be a matching ball gown bodice, but, unfortunately, neither were in the box with the dress above:

Green plaid silk bodice with pagoda sleeves.
Photograph by Point Park University.

Please visit the Extant Garments page if you're interested in more collection items, and let me know if you want to see more posts like this in the future! 

February 28, 2018

A Visit to Hale Farm + Ginny's Green Sheer Dress

Posting about the Ohio Regimental Ball last weekend reminded me that I never did share the pictures from the first, period adventure that Sarah and I went on, or Ginny's green sheer dress, which was made special for the outing...this must be rectified immediately!

Just a girl and her doll.

Last semester when I began at Kent State, I was welcomed by a lovely lady and fast friend, Sarah, whom I had met once before at the Genesee Country Village & Museum and befriended on Facebook.  We immediately hit it off over fancy coffee, sewing and all things historical clothing, and parted with the promise of future exploring and period events.  And, from that day forward, the rest is history as they say...As a side note, I must include a small story of coincidence.  When I moved to Pittsburgh, I was welcomed by another, fellow living historian, classic novel reader, and seamstress extraordinaire, who I had just so happened to meet at GCV and reconnected with through Facebook.  In fact, even more eerie, both Kaela's and Sarah's professions involve languages...moral of the story, I must have a type in friends haha!

Part I: A Visit to Hale Farm & Village

Celebrating 60 years at Hale Farm & Village
(Image via: Facebook)

When I saw that Hale Farm & Village was having their annual Harvest Festival, I asked Sarah if she'd be interested in joining me.  Not only did she agree, but we decided to attend in period attire, of course!

My well-dressed traveling companions - Sarah and Ginny -
in the Jonathan Goldsmith House. Love that yellow!

The three of us - Sarah, Ginny and me.

The site was beautiful, and having a personal tour guide made the day trip all the more memorable.  Hale Farm & Village was created to reflect a typical town in the Western Reserve, and the buildings collected and preserved represent a variety of architectural styles, built before or fitting with pre-1850 styles.  There, the historical trades, farming, gardens, lifestyles and stories of the families of early Ohio are brought to life daily by costumed interpreters and community events.  The village itself is made up of 34 historic structures and an array of guest facilities situated on over 100 acres, and entrusted to the care of the Western Reserve Historical Society.  

In short, I was very impressed with what I saw there - the interpreters were very knowledgeable and engaging, especially with the many families that day, and the restored buildings and artifacts were evidently well cared for.  In fact, several of the homes reminded me of ones at my museum.  The log cabin resembled Hetchler, the church, our Brooks Grove, and the stenciling in the study upstairs at the Jonathan Goldsmith House is similar to that at Hosmer's Inn! 

Stenciling in the upstairs study at the Jonathan Goldsmith House,
Hale Farm & Village. 

Stenciling in the upstairs ball room at Hosmer's Inn,
Genesee Country Village & Musuem

Of all the village attractions, my two favorite houses were probably the Jonathan Goldsmith House, mentioned above, and the Jagger House.  The latter had some of the prettiest wall stenciling I've seen yet!

Intricate wall stenciling in the Jagger House.

Ginny coordinated with the mint paint in the formal parlor.

Someday soon, I would very much like to go back for another event or just to walk around again...thanks so much for the wonderful day, Sarah!

Ginny putting her feet up after a long day of being carried around.
Being so popular and smiling for pictures wore her out ;)

Part II: Ginny's Green Sheer Dress

Ginny, the blog's official traveling doll, was greatly in need of another, exciting adventure and new dress!  So, she came along with us to the village where Sarah helped me pose her for pictures.  I was so happy to bring Ginny, as she ended up being very popular and had her likeliness taken by other visitors, several times.  In fact, since it was a family oriented event weekend, we had the chance to meet many other young friends and their AG dolls.

As for the new dress, it was inspired by an original sheer gown from the personal collection of K. Krewer.  While I would have loved a new dress of my own, creating garments in doll scale is much more practical, and presents its own challenges and rewards. 

Sheer gown from the K. Krewer Collection.

Sheer gown from the K. Krewer Collection.

My reproduction, 18" doll scale.

Construction:  The first step was to drape the bodice.  I wanted the front to have a half lining and "v" neckline like the original.

Draped bodice pieces. 

Next came assembling the bodice.  I chose to dart the fabric, rather than gather like the extant example.  Both the ends of the sleeves and top of the front lining were finished with small rolled hems, while the neckline was encased in a narrow bias binding.

Bodice ready for the skirt.

Bodice, interior view.

After adding a small waistband, I ripped and seamed two panels for the skirt.  I finished the hem with a wide facing, and gauged the top before attaching it to the waistband.  

Gauged skirt with hem facing.

Back, full view.

Finally, closures and ruched trim were stitched to the bodice and sleeves. 

Ruched bias cut trim at the center front.

Side and sleeve front detail.

Side and sleeve back detail.

Completed Project Shots: Please excuse the less than ideal background...

Styling her hair was so much fun!

Silk belt with doll-sized, vintage mother of pearl buckle.

And that's all...'till the next adventure, thanks for reading!

Ginny in the pumpkin patch.