Friday, July 12, 2013

1926 Lace Wedding Gown

"1926 Wedding Dress
donated by Kerri Peterson"
"1926 Wedding Dress
donated by Kerri Peterson"
My next piece to tackle is this 1926 wedding dress. It, along with the 1920's Beaded "Flapper" Dress and the 1910's Graduation Dress, is displayed on one of the newer fiberglass mannequins that were only purchased a few years ago. Of course, these mannequins have modern proportions, and just as on the other two dresses, the breasts of the mannequin were too big and caused various tears, shattering, and pulling on the bodice. This dress will be displayed on a dress form, which will be carved to the appropriate measurements. The dress measures: B 35", W 30", L 46".

Small though they are, these tears (along with others throughout this area of the bodice) are the result of the dress being stretched too tighlty on a mannequin that is too big for the slender proportions of this ensemble.
Sadly, whoever dressed this mannequin didn't realize that they caught half of the left strap of the dress between the mannequin and the arm...subsequently, that whole area of silk has become shattered and torn. It's the little things like this, that can be avoided with a little care, that really infuriate me!

This part of the silk strap had been caught between the mannequin and its arm. This is the most serious spot of damage on this garment.
The outfit is comprised of a dress and a short lace over-bodice. The dress is made of ivory silk, with snaps at the left shoulder, down the left side to the waist, and along the center back placket. The waistband is made of vertically gathered ivory silk, and fastens at the back with two hooks. The skirt of the dress is covered in a layer of ivory lace. The sleeves of the dress are also made of the same lace. The ivory lace over-bodice is waist-length, and the bottom edge makes good use of the edge of the lace design. The lace over-bodice snaps closed along the left shoulder and has five snaps down the left side to the waist. The lace over-bodice is edge with ivory silk piping along the neckline and armscythes.

The lace over-bodice open to release the stress from the heavily endowed mannequin. Also, I think it's been put on inside-out! This side is showing the underside of the decorative piping and all the hand-stitches holding it in place.
This is where the left shoulder has snaps to secure the dress. You can see all of the hand stitching along the neckline of the dress, too.
The dress, with a bit of a green glare from the lighting.
Pleats on the bodice, and the gathered waistband.

Slight shattering on the right shoulder.
The lace over-bodice. It's a bit dusty, but seems structurally sound!
Close-up of the piping. Whoever displayed this actually had it on inside out, with the piping detail facing in! D'oh!
How beautiful! Shockingly, this photograph wasn't displayed near the actual dress, which seems silly to me (I'll definitely work it into the display). Also, doesn't she look so very much like Lady Edith Crawley? It must just be her classic beauty.
The dress forms are made of styrofoam, so after I removed the arms and arm brackets, I rolled up the jersey cover and began carving away at the bust to achieve the proper shape and measurements. After some carving, I smoothed out the bust with a pot-scrubber--the only sandpaper-y thing I could find in the utility room. It actually worked great at smoothing out the jagged cuts, and even helped me achieve some fine detailing!

Post-pot scrubber treatment (:
On the new dress form...I kinda like the dress better without the over-bodice.
Now the display looks super clean, polished, and professional, and the gown is allowed to be the focal point!

The bride is wearing a pearl necklace in her wedding portrait, so I tried to recreate the look with a necklace that was displayed on a 1906 Wedding Gown. I think it looks much more fitting here!
The necklace was broken in the back, so I had to do a bit of pinning to hold it in place...thank goodness for the pinnable dress forms! And look at that GORGEOUS clasp!


  1. I have been reading every single post that you have been making about your work at the museum, and it's just been KILLING me! To see all the damage that could have been avoided if only someone had originally taken the care you are! Ahh! What a great opportunity to have, and it's so awesome that you are fixing things up. You are doing a great job. But reading these posts are just torturous!! :O

    1. Oh Cheyene, you cannot imagine the physical pain I feel every day there! Yesterday, I was removing the accessories from a 19-teens wedding dress, and when I removed the lace "veil" (just a large piece of synthetic lace material) I discovered a huge waterstain, along the entire back of the silk gown, and on the lace bits of the gown the water stain had turned to mold!!! GAHHH!!!

    2. Oh, that is just awful! I'm sure there are ways to remove mold, but I imagine it must be terribly nervewracking to deal with something like that!

  2. Wow, that is something like a 600% improvement! So jealous of you for getting this project, it looks enormously satisfying.

    She looks like Edith to me, too.

    It is so depressing to me that so many people - even now, but especially back a couple of decades - think of extant clothing pieces as disposable and not worth taking care of.

  3. Wow, the dress looks so much better just because it FITS! I agree with you though, I like it better without the lace top over it. Maybe because that is just such an 80s look to me. Ha ha. I feel blasphemous saying that. It is still such a beautiful dress! And it is great there is the photo too!

  4. You are doing such a wonderful job of restoring these pieces back to the condition that they should be in! Looking at the necklace, it reminds me one that was my great-grandmothers and even has a similar clasp to that one. It was also broken, but I manged to fix it up so that it is wearable again even though the clasp likes to give out at random moments.

    It is refreshing to see somebody that genuinely cares about these beautiful pieces enough to fix them up so that people can see them in their full glory. Keep up the amazing work~

  5. The necklace reminds me so much of a necklace that was my great-grandmothers. It is also double stranded and has a similar clasp that I had to fix so that I could wear it.

    Beautiful job on the restoration and it saddens me to think that there is a need for somebody to restore these beautiful garments so that they can be enjoyed by future generations. Keep up the amazing job!