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Cream Lace Bodice

Construction Details

by: Jade Bettin


The bodice, dating from c.1905-1915, is made from ecru lace placed over an inner bodice made from organdy.  The bodice has a 2" pouf that makes the date realistic. It has a high standing collar and a mint bow made from green China silk.  The under bodice is "slip-like" and has a scooped neckline center front and center back that has been finished with silk tape and a draw string.  This silk tape continues over the drawstring and has been attached by hand. The slip and outside fabric and sleeve come together at the armholes and are bound with a bias.  The existing closures give the bodice a 22" waist.

Outer Bodice

The center front of the lace bodice has a seam that is shaped with two darts. The seams are narrow and the seam allowance has been turned to finish the edges. The back panel is a single layer.  A second layer of fashion fabric draped onto it so it goes into the drawstring neckline but is 2" longer than the foundation bodice.

The over bodice, fashioned from lace without any seams, has alternating panels of the organdy and 2" wide lace with both vertical and horizontal bands of lace.  The first two horizontal bands are of flowered lace and they form a V at center front; the third and fourth bands are a different lace pattern that is 2.5" wide.  There are five vertical bands of a lace across the front, the center one beginning at the V of the second row of lace; the others are placed lengthwise, going from shoulder to the waist with two more going from armhole to the waist.  The shoulder has been shaped with 2.25" tucks underneath the vertical band of lace and the fullness has been concentrated to the center front at the waistline.  A 0.5" wide piece of twill tape is hand-stitched to control the gathers about 1.25" up from the finished edge of the bodice which has been piped with the organdy showing a 0.25" on the outside and inside.  The pointed front bodice would have been concealed inside of a skirt.

The over-bodice closes at back.  The back of the bodice repeats the same pattern of lace as the font, with two V shaped stripes, two of the wider lace stripes, and two vertical stripes from one shoulder point and one over the arm.  The ends of the V shaped horizontal stripes are finished with an edge of lace.  The lace has been used as an insertion (applying lace and cutting from the back side of it).  The lace hooks 2" from the center where there are two more round eyes covered with thread, probably what the skirt would have been hooked to.  The shoulder has been covered with a floral insertion lace that ends in a tape that hangs over the shoulder point about 3".

Inner Bodice

The inner bodice has side seams and three back pieces with seams finished in the same way as the lace bodice, by turning the edges under.  It closes with hooks and loops at center back.  All of the hooks have been covered with an additional strip of organdy.  

Bones have been placed on the front outside darts, the side seams, and the first side back seam.  There is an inside interior waist tape (attached to the center front bone at the natural waist) that closes with a hook and thread covered circle as an eye.  There is a bone on the loop side but not on the hook side.


The sleeve has four vertical insertions of lace, strips of 2" lace have been broken by one band of 2.5" lace.  That lace measures 11" around the arm but the upper section of the insertion has been gathered to it and into the inside of the fullness, concentrated into the top of the sleeve at the bicep the sleeve measures 19".  Below the horizontal cuff is the wider lace; the lower cuff is also gathered into the bands and it is considerably longer on the outside than the inside.  The finished band of lace is 10" but here is a additional 2" inside that have been formed as a tuck.  There are three thread covered circles that have been spaced in the lace as decoration. 

The piece of lace at the cuff measures 12" and at approximately underarm at the sleeve there have been three button hole loops made that fasten around three thread covered circles forming a 2" tuck making them smaller on the arm.  The sleeve seam is under the edge of the insertions.  The inside of the sleeve, the bottom puff, is 4" long and on the outside it is 8" long.


The collar is a single layer of wider lace and has had five small bones (2" long).  Inside of the collar is a ruched piece of the mint green China silk with a 2.5" wide 4.5" double bow placed at center back.  While the mint green bow at the neck is  bagged out, the bow decorating the left front is a hand rolled 6" piece of China silk, made into two loop bows with ends (one is 8" and the other is 11") that have been loosely knotted at the bottom. 

The collar closes right over left with three hooks and corresponding button hole loops.


The bodice is very fragile and there are several fractures in the organdy.  The fashion fabric under the arm is much softer than the rest of the bodice indicating that it has been well worn.  The inner bodice shows sign of strain at the seams.


© Jade Bettin 2014