Thursday, July 18, 2013

Extant 1896 Bridal Gown at the Schoolcraft Underground Railroad House

On the fourth of July, Mom and I went to visit the Underground Railroad house in Schoolcraft, Michigan after the town parade.  It's a national historic site that's always open for tours on the 4th, and we had never been there before. I'll post more pictures from that trip at another time, but now I want to share my pictures of an 1896 wedding dress they had on display.

It had a card tucked into the neckline that read: "Bridal Gown - Worn by Marybell Stuart, daughter of William & Joanna Stuart, at her 1896 marriage to Dr. Raymond C. Morris.  Marybell Stuart was born March 17th, 1872.  She died in childbirth October 4th, 1899, age 27."  The rest of the card can't be read.  In addition to items that belonged to the family who sheltered formerly enslaved people trying to escape to Canada, the house contains a collection of items designed to show what life was like in Schoolcraft in the 19th century.  I imagine they celebrated the arrival of birth control.

I had fun taking pictures.  The dress has pleated trim at the neckline, cuffs, and hem.  The sleeve is voluminous until the elbow, where it becomes fitted.

The lace on the sleeves was gorgeous.

It looks like dress hooks helped secure the skirt to the bodice in back.

More hook closures.

The skirt has an asymmetric ribbon detail.  It appears to be the same ribbon used to trim the sleeve cuffs.

Pleated trim attached to an underskirt or petticoat?

Here's how the ruched fabric on the bodice was gathered at the shoulders.

I had great fun examining the way this dress was put together.  I think the fabric detailing at the cuffs, bust, and hem could be replicated by block printing.

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