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This item sold on July 12, 2012.

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This sweet dress began as a long gown, probably twice the length of the babies who wore it for Christening; however, at some point after the sewing machine came into use, the dress was cut down and the embroidery at its base re-attached at a height that would permit a toddler to wear it. I added this gown to my collection as an example of baby dresses of the mid-nineteenth century, as appearance and quality of workmanship place it in the1850s-1860s.

This dress is mostly hand-stitched of soft linen, the machine-work appearing to be that which was done on the hemline, after the dress was shortened. Typifying the type of baptismal gown with robings on the bodice that form a “V”, the center of the “V” is embellished-- in this case with twenty rows of pintucking. The robings themselves are decorated with white-work embroidery known as “Broderie Anglaise”. Scalloping at the neckline, which travels the shoulders and crosses the back, also displays Broderie Anglaise, and the short raglan sleeves consist almost entirely of this embroidery, which decorates the waistband and finishes-off the hemline of the dress as well.

The dress fastens at the neck with a tie and at the waist with metal snaps. I believe the waist was either originally left open or a tie was threaded through the banding, as this was the tradition. The waistband falls above the baby’s natural waist and skirting is attached with tiny cartridge pleats.

While wearable, this little dress shows signs of its age in some areas where time and a threaded needle could restore a bit of trim that has pulled-away from its original place and a similar area on the left sleeve and at the waist. I can mend these places if the buyer of this dress wishes; otherwise, the new owner can repair as he or she chooses. What I would suggest leaving alone are all the tiny insect-bites which pepper the dress and which easily go unseen unless the dress is held to a light and scrutinized.

Some repairs/reinforcing have been done to this gown over the years. In addition to shortening it and re-attaching the trim at the hem with use of a sewing machine, reinforcement appears to have been done in the waistband. This is part of the history of the gown, which speaks of a dress that was treasured by a family who wished to continue to use it at special times in the life of a new little family member. A dress such as this is poetry, from the finest of its stitches to the saddest of its moth-holes.

Due to its somewhat fragile condition, I suggest that this dress be used sparingly on little humans—perhaps at baptism, bris, or other Ceremony of Life, or that it be displayed on a doll or bear and its story told to those who wonder at its sweetness. It is perfect for display on a reborn baby doll.

The measurements are 24 inches long x 8 inches wide at the waist, lying flat.

$30.00

The baby clothes I offer through Etsy are part of my personal collection. All are carefully laundered and pressed. Any repairs are made in the style of the original and are fully documented. I have chosen to ignore some minor imperfections, as these are part of the history of the garment and tend to substantiate the passage of time. Each item is described and researched to the best of my ability and the approximate decade of its construction is provided.

It is my hope that the gowns I find become part of a child's heritage, to be passed along through generations as was originally intended by a gown’s maker. In this way, those of us born since women have had the opportunity to live the lives they imagined may touch the lives of female ancestors, who had few options: times when a girl began sewing her child-bed linens prior to her wedding day. Even with access to the sewing machine in the 1860s and thereafter, much or all of a baby's fanciest dress might be hand-sewn by his or her mother-- this, at a time when childbirth was a risky undertaking and many babies were lost.

If you are looking for a specific dress-- perhaps to replace a lost family heirloom-- describe your wishes and I will endeavor to fulfill them-- I may already have just what you want in my collection.

Nineteenth century babies always wore a cap; my baby dresses all originally had matching bonnets. I will occasionally come across a bonnet that matches a dress in my collection, but I don't actively search for them. If the dress you like has no bonnet and you would like one, I will endeavor to find a cap of the same era and style to compliment the dress and will sell it to you for what I have into it, plus a charge for laundering and any repairs.

Whether fashioned by hand or machine, an antique baby-gown is poetry, wrought of cloth and thread on the wings of hope. It is an honor for any child to wear something that comes from courage of the heart.

Antique Nineteenth-Century Linen Baby Dress

Overview

  • Vintage item from the 1800s
  • Feedback: 3 reviews
  • Ships worldwide from United States
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