Thursday, 17 May 2007
Repairing history - c. 1900 Lace Dress
As a volunteer at Cavalcade of History and Fashion (link on sidebar) I am sometimes asked to repair the clothing in the collection for upcoming presentations and displays. This week I've been working on the 2 piece Battenburg lace gown worn by our M.C. Comprising a satin petticoat, lace skirt and separate bodice the gown is a masterpiece of period engineering. The bodice at some stage in its life was tacked permanently onto a camisole top and is made of lengths of lace and motifs sewn together by hand in large back stitches. Over the years it has been repaired many, many times, probably by the original owner and then by various conservators. The background net is cotton or silk while the lace is most likely cotton or linen thread. There are appliques of what appears to be silk satin, with raw edges on the wrong side and the Battenburg lace appliqued around on the skirt. There are little beaded "dangles" on the bodice, and 4 boned stays in the lace collar to hold it upright. The back of the bodice closes with period hooks and thread eyes, the latter which I had to repair. I patched more of the silk camisole lining which is shattering under the arms and over the bust and has already had many repairs. This gown is not the only example of its type in the collection, and therefore is being worn to showcase how it moves on a real body.