More Pennsylvania Treasures

Textile history is one of my favorite things.  This lovely child’s dress came home with me.  It is all hand stitched.  It had to be!  It was made before the sewing machine was invented!

Child's dress 1840 - 1860

Child’s dress 1840 – 1860

All hand stitched is a good clue to when it was made.  For those who ever took Home Ec, I will say the gathering would earn an A+; perfectly even and no puckers, no pleats.  Below you will see the reason I can date the dress so easily.  Portraits from the past!

dress portrait

On this trip we visited  several museums in DC and Williamsburg.  I could not resist taking a few pictures of children’s portraits.  And they were dated!  My traveling partner had once read that there was a time period when it was thought children would be healthier if  the upper chest was exposed.

I should add here that we also saw memorable quilts in the museums but the rule was no photos!  I am sure the rule is in part because they want to sell the museum books.  Sometime one is allowed photo with no flash, but not this trip.

Another portrait

Another portrait

How did they keep this low shoulder thing in place, specially on an active child?

back of dress with draw string

back of dress with draw string

If you look real close at the above photo you can see the draw string at the neck!  I wonder if it was comfortable.  There were two buttons at the top and another two at the waist.  The space between the sets of button had no closure.  From the close up picture you can also see all the piping.  I have been told that it helped reinforce the seams whereas today it is a decorative addition.  And more work!

Hand pieced apron

Hand pieced apron

One more child’s apparel.  This one is harder to date.  Pink was first popular and very available as early as 1830.  The madder brown of the triangle trim has that copper-toned look which mainly appeared around 1860 – 1880.   The other clue has to be the hand sewing.   No sane woman would have hand stitched this if she owned a sewing machine.  By 1890 most homes had a sewing machine or access to one.

One more fun thing about the apron:  The dealer said that she originally had two of different sizes.  What a mom or grandma to have made sisters matching aprons!

Below is a quilt block that I have that shows the copper-toned madder a little more clearly.

quilt block from 1860 -1880

quilt block dated 1860 – 1880

Another treasure I purchased before we left Penn.  is the doll quilt made with cheater fabric.

cheater fabric

cheater fabric

It is probably a doll quilt with no batting or quilting.  Some ladies made  pretty “wall hangings” that they hung over the wash pan to catch splatters, but this is probably to small to catch all the splatters so I will stay with a doll quilt.

Cheater fabric appeared as early as 1830!  This one was probably later but I love adding it to my collection.

I was so glad that I had been saving up for this trip!  And I think I better stay out of Penn. for a while!





4 responses

  1. Looks like you found some GREAT treasures to add to your collection. And thank you for giving us the history lessons. I learn something every time you post.

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