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Historic Clothing Collection

Fabric Adpative Reuse

Brocade silk dress with pleated puffed sleeves, ca. 1840

Brocade silk dress with pleated puffed sleeves, ca. 1840

Item 105761 info
Maine Historical Society

Imported from Europe, this mid-1770s cream hand-woven silk floral spray brocade silk was a rare and extremely expensive textile. Such fabric was worn only by women from the wealthiest families. Originally it would have been used to make a full skirted 1770s dress. Perhaps discovered many years later in an attic or trunk, that unrecorded dress was unpicked, and the fabric remade into this fashionable 1830s dress with knife pleated drop shoulders, large puff sleeves and bateau neck. Skirt gathers are not 1830s, and the waistband is sewn by machine, indicating more recent adjustment, probably for fancy dress purposes.


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