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Date of your Antique Dress ARTICLE 2 Fabulous Fakes by Lisa Schnapp on 03-26-2009

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Note by Dress Detective Lisa Schnapp: Sometimes a beautiful vintage gown is more than meets the eye... especially, when the vintage dress ends up being a vintage Victorian costume dress instead...and the Dress detective is on the case to root out the clues.

Question by Trish:

1895 Vintage Victorian Reproduction CostumeDear Lisa, Thank you for the opportunity to "pick your brain" and get your opinion, as I highly respect your knowledge of the industry!

I picked up this lovely gown at an antique shop and it was labeled "Edwardian". I have no further knowledge or history. I specialize in quilts and linens, but when I came across this beautiful gown, I couldn't resist it.

1895 Vintage Victorian Reproduction CostumeIt is hand and machine stitched. The dress is completely lined with a brown linen, the dress is made of a rich wine color velvet. There is a lot of black glass beadwork on a wire? type lacework.

1895 Vintage Victorian Reproduction CostumeIt is in wearable condition if you are a super model with a 20" waist. I believe that the corseted back has had the metal thingy's replaced as they look new. There are black snaps under the corset. There are bones in the waist. The inside seams are finished with black/grey stripe ribbon. The waist is quite small and my dress form was too big, so it is barely closed in the back.

I added some tissue to puff it up in the back, this may or may not be a bustle type dress, but the hem did fall longer in the back.

The skirt is tiered, and has bows and glass beadwork fringe completely around it. Under the skirt, please see the picture of the ribbon and black tulle. The 2nd to the last picture is a close-up of the bottom of the tier, the last picture is a close-up of the glass beadwork at the waist, there does seem to be some missing beads.

The hem is completed with a braided black lace trim on the underside. It is really in excellent condition although the black beading seams to be missing some beads and needs "arranging."I would love opinion! Thank you in advance!! -trish

Reply from Dress Detective Lisa at Bustledress.com:

Hi Trish, Thank you so much for contacting me! I'll do my best to help you identify your lovely gown. I will review the photo links you sent again, but need a few additional photos, plus more clarification information please before I can make a determination. (Requested some photos.)

About the velvet...I need for you to look closely here. Is it a very thin velvet or thick? Is the pile looped at the fabric edge ends, or cut at the edges? Does the velvet seem formless, drape able and soft- very flowing to the touch so that if you hold it pools all over, or a bit stiffer in texture with a cotton back or twilled back? Does it seem to have a rayon back? Or is it really stiff face and a bit scratchy, as if a velvet mixed with mohair? Does it all over appear to be a silk velvet, cotton velvet or rayon velvet, or a mixture?

Open the bodice back, fold the opening open, so I can see the placket style used. 1895 Vintage Victorian Reproduction CostumeAre eyes metal or thread eyes? Look at the thread used at the hook area- is it 100% cotton? There should be a piece of loose thread. Snip this, then with care, burn it at your sink with water ready... does the thread bead or turn into ash? And what is the smell like? This test can be done on other loose threads as well. Is the bodice front bodice point where the bodice is connected to the skirt, connected at the directly to the skirt and then the wired lace attached over the top of both? Is the overskirt attached to the underskirt? Can you see any sewing seams? Can you count the number of stitches per inch like on aside seam of the skirt? The tulle- is it plastic-y or is it like a cotton cheescloth?


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