According to the donor, we believe that this dress was worn by Electra Wade of Northfield, New Jersey. She was married to Henry Beach.
Although the dress is fashionable in its cut, it was most likely a work or everyday dress. The heavyweight linen from which it is made dictated that pleats rather than gathers be used to control the fullness at the center back of the upper skirt section. The donor claimed that the fabric had been woven by the wearer Electra Wade. Although we know that less expensive fabrics of this type were available from merchants, the construction of this particular fabric does appear to confirm the donor’s claim. If one looks closely at the fabric, it is evident that it was woven by a less skilled weaver, who periodically lost the pattern by leaving out a row of one of the colors. These mistakes are most noticeable part way down the center front of the skirt section and near the sleeve area on the front.
The dress is constructed of a two-tone blue and brown woven linen plaid. It is an empire style with a center front bodice opening that extends four inches into skirt section. The front bodice extends into the back at the sides and is applied over the back at the seams where it topstitched. There is deep U-shape at front neckline. A drawstring is attached to the dress at the back shoulder on either side and is inserted into a casing at the front neckline for tying at center front. There is a rectangular piece over each shoulder. A drawstring at the waist seam is attached the dress at the sides for an additional front closure. Blue and white striped linen lines the bodice. The lining is attached at the back and sides, but extends below the waist seam and hangs free. At the front the lining hangs free and is meant to lap over at center front, but with no visible means of closure. The long straight sleeves are set in far to the back. The skirt section consists of four pieces to include a straight piece at front, a triangular gusset at either side, and a rectangular piece for the back. The skirt back is pleated into the waist seam with box pleats. There is a fold over hem in skirt section.
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