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You never know what you'll find here - anything with genealogical or historical value is fair game. This blog will be updated as I clean out my office, go through boxes and piles, or find pertinent items at antique shops. In the meantime, I hope you find something of interest here.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wedding Wednesday – 1905 Bridal Dressmaking


An article from the May, 1905 issue of “The Twentieth Century Home”.


by Mrs. N. M. Slater

“What is so rare as a day in June?”

     AGES ago, one radiant morning of the first June, the great High Priest of a world of His own creating performed the first marriage ceremony by making twain to be one flesh. Circumstances, customs, laws, even the face of nature, change, but the heart of man remains the same. When the unconscious desire of Adam's heart was granted by the creation of Eve, a precedent was established for granting the desires of all his descendants, and, when all is as it should be, a marriage is an event that matches a June day in beauty.
     Eve's part in this combination of happy circumstances is no less important and beautiful than Adam's, and it is with her part of the affair that the home dressmaker is mostly concerned. But though she must needs have garments, and may, if she desire it, "stitch sweet dreams into them," it is not in trousseaus alone that she is interested.
     The utilitarian side of the wedding outfit Is important; and its significance as a sign of the nature of the woman is greater. When liberty of choice is possible, one's garments inevitably become the "outward, visible sign of the inward, spiritual grace." or of its opposite. What necessity, then, for the bride, more than all other women, to select for the adornment of her person and her home what most nearly expresses her highest ideals, and then to make the strongest possible effort, in beginning the new life, to live up to that ideal!
      Of course, it is easier to express one's ideals in dress when there is plenty of money; some money is a necessity, and if the bride-elect has not "some." she would, in most cases, best wait till the needful is forthcoming. It is supposed, however, that she has a sufficiency of cash, with good sense and good taste to use it to the best advantage, and skill with the needle to construct the appropriate garments properly.

Fig1Figure 1: Dress of White Silk Mull with Trimmings of Valenciennes Lace

It is also supposed that the bride- elect completed the filling of her linen-chest during the white sales of January und February; also that the muslins, cambrics, nainsooks, laces and embroideries necessary for the dozens, or at least half-dozens, of dainty undergarments, were bought about that time, and were made during the stormy days of February and March. Negligees, house-gowns and suits should have been completed during April, so that during the sweet month of May the wedding-gown may be made at leisure, leaving plenty of time for the society of family, friends and lover.  A girl’s last days at home should not be spoiled by anxiety about unfinished wedding preparations.
     The list of materials of which a wedding-gown may be made by the home dressmaker is long enough to give opportunity for a wise choice that will suit even a slender income.   Who does not remember the wedding in "Little Women," when sweet Meg March, refusing to wear silk, lace or orange-blossoms, became Mrs. John Brooke in a simple gown of her own making?  Incongruity is the discordant note in many a wedding-march. Let the home dressmaker avoid it.
    For a simple home wedding, there are dainty lawns, batistes and organdies. Silk mull makes a pretty dress, as it shirrs and drapes well. The first cost is very little, but a gown of It would still be expensive, as it does not wear extremely well. White cashmere or white poplin would make a pretty and sensible gown. The soft silks—chiffon, taffeta, peau de sole and peau de cygne—ore, of course, very beautiful and satisfactory; but for a gown that would be not immoderately expensive, would be suitable for a wedding or any other full-dress occasion, wear for many years and be beautiful all the time. crepe-de-Chine, in the opinion of the Home Dressmaking department, exceeds any other material. Its soft, lustrous folds are a delight to the eye and to the touch, and it lends itself to any form of draping, pulling or shirring; and it is also so beautiful in itself that it could be made up very plainly and still look well.
     A gown of this material, made by an exclusive house, is worthy of note. It was simple enough for the home dressmaker to do, though the general effect is that of elaboration. To begin with, there was a deep round yoke of fagoted bands of the material, just the same as has been used, but as popular as ever. The top of the blouse was shirred several times; this also has been in use for some time. The new feature was a very wide
band of chiffon embroidery. laid partly on the fagoting and partly on the blouse and the top of the sleeve. Narrower embroidery of the same sort was placed at the upper edge of the stock. The sleeves had two rather deep puffs, shirred at the top and between the puffs. A long cuff came to the elbow, and was finished at the wrist with the embroidery. The girdle was laced with a chiffon scarf.
     The skirt-top was moderately full, and shirred to yoke-depth; at the lower edge was a
band of fagoting fully eight inches In width. There was a deep flounce, with three tucks and a hem each one and one-quarter inches deep at the bottom. The top had four or five rows of shirring.  The joining of the flounce and the skin-top was concealed by embroidery, wider than that used on the waist. The dress was pale-green, and the embroidery was the same color. Ivory-white would of course be used by a bride, and lace would be more appropriate than the embroidery, because more lasting.
     Any gown of this kind requires a perfectly fitted lining.  Follow the directions, and observe the diagrams in the January number, with the exception that in making a blouse the under-arm seams of both lining and outside are sewed separately and outside, and linings are joined only at the arms-eye, the yoke, and the bottom of the waist.
     Figure 1 shows a dress of unite silk mull, that may also be made of sheer lawn, Swiss muslin, batiste or organdy, with trimmings of the Valenciennes lace so popular this season. The lining may be a perfectly fitted guimpe, open in the back or the outside. It may be attached in the usual way at the arms-eye and at the bottom of the waist. The last would be the easier and therefore the better way. The surplice is really easy to make, as It is only a piece of the material, straight on the length, long enough to reach from back to front, and cross in both places.
     This is the order of work: Cut, baste and carefully fit the lining. Finish the seams as described in January number, unless the outside material is so thin that the seams will show through, in which case leave the seams Inside, but bind them, or finish them in any neat way. Sew on the hooks and eyes, and whalebone or featherbone. Try on, and get the lace yoke and stock carefully and snugly pinned in position. Then baste and stitch yoke, and cut away the lining from under the lace, and finish as directed in January number.                                                                                                                            The surplice is now put on, and it can best be done on the form of the person who is to wear it. If this Is not possible, use a bust-form. Take a straight piece of goods, long enough to reach from back to front and wide enough to allow the proper amount of fulness and to cut in the right shape under the arms. Place it first on the shoulder, pinning the fulness in plaits. Draw the material a little past the center front, arranging the drapery tastefully, and pin to the lining. Pin the material smoothly to the lining from the darts to the underarm seam, and trim off the surplus around the arms-eye and down the seam.
     Do the same with the back, and then with the other side. Mark the places for the shillings at the shoulder, remove the outside, do the shirrings, but do not fasten the threads. Baste the underarm seams. Try on once more, and if all is as it should be, stitch and press the underarm seams, and again put the outside in position, and sew it there. Then finish the lower edge of the waist in any neat way.   Just now there is a fancy for finishing lined waists with a bias fold.   See January number.
     Cut the outside sleeve, using Diagram 5,page 60, January number, as a model, but allowing more fulness and a little more length. A lining sleeve of wash net is good for a sleeve of thin material, and it may be cut like Diagram 6, same page of January magazine. Take up tucks in the outside material, shirring them to fit the lining. It is well to remember that shirring done on cords keeps in place excellently. Form the cufl by applying bands of Valenciennes insertion, with ruffles of Valenciennes edging on each side, and stitch them, using a rather loose tension. Stitch the sleeve lining, leaving the cuff open halfway to the elbow, finishing the opening with a very narrow bias fold. There
should be a ruffle of luce at the wrist, and the closings be done with tiny buttons and small silk cord.
     Sew up the outside sleeve and attach it to the lining. Then sew the sleeves to the arms-eyes and finish the seam in the usual way.
     The top of the skirt is seven-gored, and is gathered simply into a waist-band, but shirring would be extremely pretty.  Bands of Valenciennes insertion, with ruffles of lace at either side, form a heading for the deep straight flounce, that may have tucks at the bottom, or simply a hem.


Figure 2: Gown of Ivory-White Crepe-Dechine, combined with all-over lace

Figure 2 represents a more elaborate gown of ivory-white crepe-de-Chine, combined with all-over lace used in the V-shaped waist front, and the panel in the skirt. The waist and sleeve are made in nearly the same way as the mull dress. The shirring is done on cords, which is the safer way, as they keep in better shape. The most charming feature of this dress is the trimming, formed! of bands of the material, shirred on each edge, and applied in any pretty design, the same as mohair braid or passe-menterie would be used. Two widths are used. The wider is applied in a straight line from the shirring, near the center of the skirt down the seam, and around the bottom of the skirt, and may be about one inch in width finished. The finished width of the narrower shirring is three-quarters of an inch, and it is applied in all the lines where the lace and the goods meet, and it may be arrunged in any fanciful design that good taste and the fashion of the day would dictate. The illustration shows an easy but graceful design.
     To wear or not to wear a veil is sometimes a serious question,and as tulle, the material from which most bridal veils are made, is not extremely expensive, the question is not so much one of cost, as of its being in harmony with the other preparations. The veil is beautiful in its symbolism and in itself, but unless the wedding is to be a somewhat ceremonious affair, the Home Dressmaking department does not advise its use.

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