Wednesday, January 12, 2011

My 1920s or 30s-era dress ... I think

Yesterday I wrote about some of my hidden treasures in the midst of clutter. Today I want to show a dress that I have had for years that I consider a true treasure. It doesn't have any nostalgic value but I love it's artistry and style.

A relative gave it to me, really to my daughter years ago. She thought my daughter might appreciate the beauty of it and she really did. She would have worn it because it did fit her, but we realized after she tried it on that it was too fragile to be worn. At that point I decided to save it because it was a true antique and because I thought I might one day make a pattern from it, using the dress as a guide.

It is a dress made of lace with an under dress. Ruffles surround the bodice. After I examined it, I decided it is partially handmade and partially machine-sewn. The stitching is intricate and all of the seams are bound -- no raw edges on this dress. It does have what I think it a cleaning tag inside so I am thinking at one point it was professionally cleaned.

I think it was an ankle length evening gown. The front is a little shorter than the back and there are gathers, tucks, gussets and gores galore. I don't think this would have been an "easy-sew" project.

The back of the dress has a deep V in the back and closes with hooks and snaps.

The ruffles hang nicely after all these years.

There is an inverted V in the back and the fabric which gives the back extra fullness.

I thought the lace might have been discolored around the bottom but have since decided that the material is woven to have a lighter "border" around the hem.

 The front has gathers for the bust and is attached to form a high waist.

The simple inside "slip dress" is attached on the shoulders to keep them in place. Some of the stitching inside looks like handwork ...

And is fastened by a set of hooks and snaps. The snaps are very fragile and I have to take care in opening the dress because the thread could break.

Some of the dress here looks hand sewn.

The Vs in back allows for extra fullness and the back has plenty of "swing" while the front is pretty straight.
On the sides there is a gusset that adds fullness.

I think it is a beautiful treasure and from the information I received when I got the dress, I am thinking it could be from the 1920s, but it is hard to be certain. I am pretty certain it is at least 100 years old, or almost there. I can imagine it was a nice dress for dancing, but that is just me using my imagination.

I do know that the detail work is very nice and a good seamstress made this dress.

How do I preserve it from this point is a question I have been asking myself but I don't have any good answers. Sometimes sealing things in plastic is good, but not always. I do know I want to make a pattern first and then I may find a place that might display it.

I think it is a treasure. Got any tips or info? I would love to know more about it. My photos really do  not do it justice, in my opinion.


  1. Dear Deberah, what a lovely dress and I love your photos! I can just 'see' someone dancing 9n that dress. It would be neat if you could make a pattern from it.

    I bet the folks at the Historical Society would be able to give you some information on it - they have some very knowledgeable members. Good luck with that, I'd be interested in hearing more about your treasure. Have a great day, Joanie