Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Restoring an 1820s Dress

With this poor light that we are experiencing at the moment day in, day out, due to the rain, I am struggling to get much sewing done, but have begun work on restoring an 1829 provinical printed cotton wedding gown (don’t expect a white gown- Queen Victoria started that fashion on her wedding day in 1840).

So I have made a start; mending a huge tear down one side, and removing about 7 marks left from blue-tac, of all things to get near an antique dress!!

Mending tear down side of dress

The dress has a slit on either side of the skirt, where it fastens around the back and then ties at the front. Both sides had been torn, but one side was almost down to the hem (thank goodness for the wide hems of this time).

Traces of blu-tac can be seen here

On one of the sleeves there were about 7 areas where blu-tac had been somehow left. I suppose I should be grateful that at least it was only on the one arm! To remove the blu-tac I gently used a solution of water and a small amount of restorers detergent. Thankfully with time and care, they all came out.

Blu-tac stains and button missing at wrist

You can see in the photo above that there are poppers where there shouldn’t be, but thankfully there is fabric enough on the large seam allowances inside the gown to make new replacement covered buttons to match the couple that have survived. On the other wrist 2 buttons are missing.

There is a fair bit of work to do on the gown - the sleeves need attention; apart from the buttons, there are seams which need sewing up. And there are later stitches where someone has re-sewn the bodice of the gown the wrong way, obvioulsy they were not familiar with this older style of dress construction.

When I finally see some sun here in the West Country, I will be able to photograph the whole gown, and discuss it at length! :)

Naomi x