Molly’s Wardrobe: White Dinner Gown

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One of grown-up Molly’s first gowns is a striking sheer white gown worn while visiting Hamley Hall. While the all-white color scheme lends a simplistic charm to the gown, on closer examination it is highly decorated.

The dress is made up of a sheer material, most likely akin to voile or batiste. It has short, puffed sleeves and a high waist, characteristic of the gowns of the late 1820s. The sleeves themselves are interesting, as they have a separate triangular piece attached to the top of either sleeve cap. It appears to be cut on the bias from the way it drapes. The bodice of the gown has a lower, rounded square neckline, possibly with a drawstring round it (this would be of fine casing with a very narrow cord-almost undetectable), that would secure at the back. There is a V-pattern of cutwork on the front of the bodice, which is very smooth. The cutwork pattern seems to be ‘flowers’ made up of five small teardrop shapes.

The back of the bodice appears to be of four pieces: two center backs and two side backs. There are once again bands of cutwork following the lines of the curved side back pieces. (See diagram.) The bodice seems to close down the back, though it shows no visible means of doing so, which leads me to believe hooks and loops are employed for that purpose.

The skirt and bodice are separated by a narrow waistband; my guess is that it’s about 1.5″ to 2″ wide. The waistband has a “X” pattern on it. The skirt is smooth in the front, with the gathers concentrated in the back. The hem of the skirt is highly decorated with three rows of ruffles and a ‘looped’ portion above that.

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