Friends, this darling little gown was bought here in Australia, but I’m not convinced it’s an Australian gown in origin. There are some things about this gown that raises some questions for me. Firstly, although I bought it in Australia, it has North American smocking on the two front shoulders. English smocking is the norm in Australia…not so much American smocking. The difference being that English smocking is pleated and North American smocking, whilst can be pleated by drawing up the dots, is usually stitched on the dots drawing the fabric together to create a design.
I wonder if the gown was brought to Australia by an Australian War Bride from the USA?
The gown is a pre-stamped gown. There are visible ink stamp marks around the neckline – take a close look at the front neckline fold.
And the smocking dots are visible too
The smocking dots could have been added with a smocking dots transfer sheet, but I don’t think that is the case because of the neckline stamp line. Both of these together, suggest to me that the gown outline for cutting and the embroidery design were completely stamped onto the fabric and it was perhaps sold as a kit with the sewing & embroidery instructions and possibly also the embroidery thread.
Sometimes the gowns were already constructed and the buyer would only have had to do the embroidery…but I don’t think that this gown is one of those because of the neckline stamped ink-line and because the sewing isn’t of a really high standard. The back placket appears to have been folded and sewn without any pressing. Pressing during construction gives garments a more professional finish. This placket is lumpy and bumpy – definitely completed by a home sewer whom perhaps, was a beginner?
I don’t think the creator was a beginner embroiderer though…
The embroidery, whilst not of a high standard, certainly looks to be have been completed by a somewhat experienced embroiderer as it’s competent.
There are a couple of small marks/stains. They didn’t come out with a soaking in Marseille Soap so next I will do a spot rubbing with Marseille Soap to try and remove the stains. Even if I can’t get the stains out, I won’t be too disappointed as the marks are small and the dress is still fine for gentle use.
There is also some small flea bite holes. Again, not too big. The fabric is very very sheer – a muslin perhaps?
I think this gown may be from around the 1940s; there are three things that make me think this. Firstly, the North American smocking wasn’t, and still isn’t, the type of smocking generally undertaken by Australian smockers. I’m guessing that it may have been done by an American woman and the unconstructed garment/kit possibly came with her as an Australian War Bride during the 1940’s or perhaps an American relative sent it to her when her pregnancy was announced. Secondly the style of the gown: there are no shoulder seams or separate sleeve pieces. The entire gown is cut from one piece of fabric which is folded over at the shoulder, with the neckline and back placket cut out and side seams run from the hem to the sleeve edge. This style of gown was very popular during the 1940s even though it could still be found in latter sewing patterns. Finally, the lace is cotton – by the time the 1960s came along, nylon lace had made an appearance; especially with mass produced garments. I don’t think this gown, fits into the beginning of the mass production era of the 1960s. The dress may be earlier than the 1940s but I’m not at all convinced that it is later than the 1940s.
Folks, even though this gown presents with more questions than answers, I’m not bothered; it’s still a beautiful little gown that I’m happy to have in the collection. What are your thoughts about it?