Overview: This evening bodice, c. 1863, is made from silk brocade and has a Swiss belt. It is entirely hand-made although some recent additions/alterations were done by machine. The original bright pink which can be seen in some areas, has faded to salmon.
Construction: The bodice has cotton flat-lining in back and linen flat-lining in front. The shoulder seams are dropped towards the back. The front is cut in one piece, with two top-stitched darts on each side. The side seams are pushed towards the back, creating a fiddle-back shaped back panel. It closes with hooks center back. There is a sweetheart neckline in front and scooped back neckline. The piping on the neckline edge has a hand whipped stitch detail. The waist measures 23 1/2", but it has been altered. There are 6 bones total: side seam, side front, and side side front. The garment is entirely hand sewn. The short puff sleeves have a shaped inner sleeve. The outer sleeve is gathered into an arm band and into the dropped shoulder armseye. The sleeve measures 4" from dropped shoulder to armpit, the arm band measures 11" around, and the armseye measurement is 13" around. There are hand sewn lingerie loops inside.
The belt has eyelets for lacing in back, boning at center back and center front, and is piped on top and bottom edge. It is flat-lined with linen and is 1 1/8" wide at the side seam. The points at center front are 6 1/8" wide, and the boning at center back is tubular.
Trim: The sleeves have two layers of box pleated ribbon on the armband and around the armscye. There is additional cording at the sleeve hem, armscye seam, on the shoulder yoke seam, and around the neckline.
Provenance: Found in costume storage in the Department of Dramatic Art. Now in the Costar Collection.
Damage: The fabric is discolored, stained and mildewed. There are small wear holes on the inside in that match from side to side, perhaps where the corset rubbed or where the egg-shaped pads were removed. Two darts at the side front and two darts from side back neckline to waist have been added and the side seams have been taken in, in a sloppy and uneven way. An additional placket was sewn on to the back that is not original, likely to make it larger.
Tags: Has been studied and reproduced by MFA candidate