1815, Changeable Silk Dress


Blue/gray/tan iridescent silk floor length dress with raised "empire" waistline. Front square neckline has gathering controlled with casing and small diameter (string) drawstring that ties at center front through opening in the casing. Front fullness pleated into narrow 5/8" waistband. Bodice side pieces extend over shoulders to meet with back and create square back neckline, and around sides to meet at sb princess seams. Waistline slopes down slightly at center back. Princess seams in back bodice going into armscye with seams overstitched with fine hand backstitches. Six blue glass ball buttons (5/8" diameter) at center back closure with six hand worked buttonholes. Completely hand stitched including very fine, small backstitch topstitching on bodice.

Over-long full sleeves are cut on the crosswise grain. Hems are turned up selvages. They attach to bodice sides and back underneath decorative draped piece. This detail features a strip of fabric approximately 4-5 inches wide, gathered up every three inches across top of sleeve, stitched to neckline but also underneath armhole front to back, covering armhole seam. Sleeves very full and loose at hem edge but controlled with strip of ribbon (not original) at wrist forming a ruffle edge.

Skirt: Smooth front skirt hangs from empire seam and is entire width of fabric. Side back seams are (no side seams) selvage to selvage. Another full width of fabric creates the skirt back with 2 triangular godets between the front and back panels. Eight small pleats going toward center back on left and right give center back fullness below the waistline seam extending fullness to hem of garment. An open placket, approximately 6" long, at center back skirt below bodice buttons allows for garment entry. There is no center back seam. Hem is 1/4" turned up twice. Dress trains slightly in back.




Additional fiber images and information available at the CAMEO Materials Database at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston.

Fiber/Fabric Information





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Silk Fiber
Silk Fiber



“1815, Changeable Silk Dress,” Fashion2Fiber, accessed August 3, 2020,

Item Relations

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