In the late 1980’s I worked as a volunteer collating the costume collection of the Hollytrees Museum in Colchester. I drew each of the costumes in detail for their information cards (this was in the days before digital cameras and digital data gathering)! So I thought I would occasionally share one of these drawings with you. Sadly, I didn’t make a note of the accession numbers of the gowns, but here is the first:

No 1: A Titanic Era Gown: 1908-12

The dress consists of an oyster satin under-bodice and petticoat with overdress made from vertical panels of embroidered lace, net pin-tucked into a herringbone pattern and georgette.

The construction of the dress is complicated!

It begins with a boned silk under-bodice which closes at the centre back with hooks and eyes and extends below the waist. This is covered with fine silk. A yoke of radiating pin-tucked net, lined with fine silk, is attached to the under-bodice and closes at the centre back with five hooks and eyes. The yoke and under-bodice together form the armhole into which the under-sleeve, made of embroidered lace edged with satin ribbon, is set.

The tunic overdress has a low square neckline and Magyar sleeves which finish shorter than the under-sleeve and are edged with satin ribbon. The tunic is attached to the bodice around the neckline and from the shoulder down either side of the centre front and centre back panels.

The tunic overdress and lining is gathered in at the waist and is attached to the under-bodice waistline. The tunic top closes at the back left of centre with six hooks and eyes. A further three, horizontally placed, hooks and eyes attach the top of the tunic to the yoke (see above). Two hooks and eyes secure the sash at the waist and poppers concealed in the placket close the skirt.

The front and back are much alike, although the neckline is slightly lower at the back. The centre front and centre back georgette panels are each decorated with a vertical line of satin-covered ball-shaped buttons. The tunic hem is six inches shorter than the satin petticoat which is slightly trained. The hem of the tunic is decorated with satin covered bobbles. The narrow sash (made from a tube of silk satin) is knotted around the waist and two streamers hang down the front left side. Half way down, both streamers are fed through a ball decorated with satin cord. The shorter streamer finishes in a single ball, from which hangs three bobble, while the longer one finishes with a double ball with five bobbles.

© Pauline Loven

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Written by Pauline Loven

Pauline is a period costumier and film producer.