A Sheer 1860s Dress

My sheer 1860s dress in a tintype with my friend, Sarah, at a reenactment. The dress is made of printed cotton voile, with a floral design printed over very tiny grey dots. It has a half high lining of white cotton which is trimmed with lace. The hem is edged with wool tape, which shows up nicely in the tintype. I'm wearing it over my red corset which amazingly doesn't show through the sheer fabric and thin lining, chemise, cage crinoline, petticoat and drawers. My bonnet is the Miller's Millinery spoon bonnet, which I made in green silk and trimmed with cream ribbons, pink flowers and lace.

The dress in a somewhat more familiar format! You can see how sheer the voile is. The sheer layer only closes at the neck and waist, while the lining closes separately using hooks and thread eyes. So it works with the waistband, the lining is slit just above where it attaches, as can be seen on an original at The Graceful Lady. (It's the first picture of the second dress--the sheer windowpane--I didn't take pictures of this feature on my own dress. She has several other pictures that show closures--be sure to look at them!). The sleeves are unlined, except for a cap sleeve in the lining which covers the chemise sleeves. The lining is darted to fit smoothly, and the sheer gathered over that. The voile and lining are only attached at the side seams and armscyes.

Despite having worn the dress three times, I don't have very many pictures of it. Here are the side views that I have.

The picture on the right was taken while I was having my tintype taken. You can see how different the dress looks. It doesn't even really look sheer. And of course, everything is reversed :)

Although it looks like I'm wearing a ring in the tintype, I'm actually not. Although I wear rings every day in real life, and have since I was eight, I take them off in costume. Just another example of how period photography can be deceiving!

A few construction pictures. The neckline and armscyes are piped. You can see that the voile had to be pulled down a little past the lining. With gathering, you really don't want it poofy, so to keep it smooth, it might need to be a little shorter than the lining. In the picture of the front, you can see that I hadn't figured out how to deal with closing the lining separately yet, and the bottom doesn't close correctly.

I embroidered a collar for the dress using a design from my 1858 Godey's. I believe it was a design for an edging and I just adjusted it to fit the collar. I drew it on with water soluable ink and embroidered it in matte silk.

My Costumes
Mid-Nineteenth Century

I'd like to go home!