My Costume (and Accessories) Collection
Linen Shift Dated 1841 – Maria E. Brewster
I have always been fascinated with underwear. The ‘plain sewing’ of this shift is awe inspiring. Tiny, tiny stitches, beautiful gathering of the fine fabric at the shoulders, the narrowest of seams. The shift is identical pattern wise, front and back. A drawstring casing runs right along the top of the horizontal neckline. Running through this is a very narrow linen tape. There are no side gores, but they are as you would expect, under arm gores. A narrow hem of 7/8″ or 2.1cm.
There is a name and date to the front, ‘Maria E. Brewster’, I think, and then ‘April 20 – 1841″.
Measurements – Length from Shoulder to Hem – 44″ or 111cm. Circumference at Hem – 69′ or 175cm.
c.1830s-40s Embroidered Bag
I love this beautiful bag. Now I am not an expert in needlework items, so am not certain what this bag could have been used for, maybe shoes as it is the right size for them. It has been made with a dark coloured, thick Aida linen fabric, and has been cross stitched in a red linen thread. It folds over in an envelope shape and fastens with a bone button. It has the initials ‘S.J.’ to the back.
Measurements:- Length – 10″ or 25.5cm. Width – 7 1/2″ or 19cm.
c.1870s Linen Dress Slipper Bag
This oatmeal coloured linen bag is one of an original pair (sadly it has lost its partner). Bags like these were used to store ballroom slippers (ladies would have worn shoes suitable for the outside on their journey to the ball/assembly rooms, and then would have their satin slippers ready with them in bags such as these to change into). This example is all beautifully hand sewn, with a carved mother of pearl button. The name ‘A.Holgate’ has been written in ink just below the button.
Measurements:-Length~ 9″/23cm. Width ~ 3 3/8″/9cm
1840s-50s Antique Early Victorian Cane Bonnet
This bonnet from the 1840s-50s is a cross between a calash and a sun bonnet. It is very similar to other corded bonnets of the nineteenth century, but here we have cane instead of cording. This style meant that by tying it under the chin ladies no longer had to hold a stick joined to the hood to keep it up like they had to with calashes! This bonnet is made from a light cotton fabric; pink and white check.
This bonnet has 16 pieces of cane. To the back is a wide skirt, and a pretty bow in the centre. It has wide ties to form a bow under the chin. To the back it is lined with white muslin, and there are also cotton tape ties to bring the crown in.
Top of the centre back to hem of ‘skirt’~ 15″ (38cm)
Top of centre front down one side to hem of skirt~ 19″ (48cm)
Width across top of bonnet pulled out to its greatest extent~ 11″ (28cm)
1840s Linen Corded Petticoat
This mid Victorian linen petticoat is certainly interesting. It has been altered, and pieced together over the years. The cords are tiny, very narrow. The wide and pointed waistband matched the pointed bodices of the 1840s. All handsewn. Fastens at the back with one mother of pearl button.
Measurements:- Hem Circumference – 100″ or 254cm. Length – 34 1/2″ or 88cm.
1810s to 1840s Antique Regency Romantic Era Cap with Handmade Bobbin Lace
I do love caps! All so varied, but each with different charms.
This early nineteenth century cap is made with a checkered white cotton fabric. Narrow piping separates the brim from the crown. The crown section has a drawstring running through casing at the hem, and ties are used to pull it in under the lady’s coil of hair. It has a wide brim often seen in this period, and the whole cap is edged with fine cotton ruffles, which are finished of with handmade bobbin lace (Bucks I think). At the front a pair of wide cotton ties are attached to tie under the chin if desired.
Around the front from tie to tie~ 17″ (43cm)
From centre back to front (with drawstring let out)~ 8 2/8″ (21cm)
Late Regency Muslin Apron 1820/30s – Altered at a Later Date
Whilst we use aprons today for wiping dirty hands down and keeping our clothing dirt-free, back in the 19th Century, delicate, pretty ones such as this were used for decoration, or to keep threads off clothing whilst a lady was sewing.
This 1820/30s white muslin apron is both wonderful and disappointing at the same time! It has been altered years later sadly by machine, probably due to the original muslin fabric being no longer presentable. So the beautiful soutache trim that we can see all along the waistband and down the apron is hand sewn. But the main fabric behind it is from a later time, and the lady who owned it has machine sewn the trim of the original apron onto it. There is even machine stitching right through the middle of the trim along the waistband. I could cry! I know that the dear lady who did these later alterations was only doing what Victorian ladies should- seeing a beautiful textile and using it.
But I do consider myself very luck to handle this fabulous piece of fashion history; an 1820s apron is such an unusual find. If you are fortunate enough to have the superb Heather Toomer’s book “White-embroidered costume accessories: the 1790s to 1840″, then you will see on page 58 an apron very, very similar to this one. It too has the large, embroidered motifs at the corners, and the trim also extends right across the narrow waistband. The same ‘applied braid’ has been used.
Length~ 35″ (89cm)
Width at bottom~ 31″ (78.5cm)
Lenght of Waistband and Ties~ 32 1/2″ (82.5cm)
Antique Regency c.1800-1840s Baby’s Cap with Cording and Needlework Fillings
This gorgeous little baby cap is from around 1800-1840. It has beautiful embroidery (most probably Ayrshire), throughout. At the back there is a circular embroidered section with an embroidered edging. Then the section gathered onto that circle has a small leaf motif. Towards the brim is a narrow panel with cording and a small motif, and there is a wider section with the most lovely embroidery work with needlework fillings. The outer edge has more rows of cording and a very detailed and delicate strip again of leaves. On the inside of the cap, each strip of cording can be brought in to fit baby’s head snugly. At both ends of the caps are little loops, which were used to slid ribbon through, and then was tied under baby’s chin.
From back hem to edge~ 5 3/8″ (13.5cm)
From top to bottom at the front brim~ 6″ (15.2cm)
c.1830s Young Child’s Net Embroidered Cap
This is a beautiful Romantic era cap. It is made from a fine honeycomb net, and is gathered into a high crown. At the top of the head is an insertion panel of net lace. The rest of the cap is embroidered with tambour or chain stitch. At the back is a lovely diamond shape, with tiny flower heads in the centre.
Measurements:From top to hem~ 9 2/8″ (23.4cm)
1820s/30s Muslin Day Cap
This beautiful muslin day cap has been much worn and loved over the years. It has certainly seen more than a few repairs. There are a couple of hints that point to the 1820/30s. Although caps can be very tricky to date accurately, with the piping, and tucks along the face ruffles, as well as the shape and its fabric, I would certainly place this example in the late Regency/Romantic era.
There is piping along the seam between the crown and the bun shape that would go over the woman’s hair at the back. At the very top of the cap, there is an unusal section of pieced fabric, showing that it has most likely been altered/repaired there at some point. Also, the wide piece of cotton tape that has been sewn onto the inside, next to where the gathers of the face ruffles are, probably wouldn’t have been there when the cap was first made. And there can be seen above this tape a series of pin pricks, so it has been unpicked and resewn in that area. There is a drawstring running under the bun shape at the back of the neck, to help keep the cap on.
1890s Quilted Petticoat
Although this isn’t in superb condition, it is an example of Victorian underthings that you don’t come across every day.
It is made with a brown cotton, and is lined in a stripey cotton. The drawstring has been altered to make the petticoat shorter at some point. It has been made with 7 panels/gores, and the lower quilted section is about half of the whole petticoat. The hem has been piped, and underneath the hem, where the fabric has worn away, I can see that the stuffing which has been used for the quilting is wool. Amongst the vertical stitches of the quilting is some lovely two-tone machine embroidery.
Mid Nineteenth Century Corded Bonnet
This mid 19th century corded rural bonnet is all handsewn. It has no skirt to protect the wearer’s neck from the sun, which is unusual. It may have been removed for some reason?