A short puffed overskirt creates elaborate draped effects on this fashionable walking costume. Draperies were very popular during the 1880s, and pleats, poufs, gathers, panniers, swags and asymmetrical effects produced great fullness around the hips, making the waist appear very slender.

Such imaginative trimmings show how one of the major innovations in nineteenth-century dressmaking, the sewing machine, encouraged the use of complex decoration. Although it could stitch much faster than a hand-sewer and was generally employed in running up long seams, some of the time saved seemed to go into lavish arrangements of folds and pleats. In this example, the seams and gathering at the back of the skirt are machine stitched, whereas the drapery effects and finishing are carried out by hand.


  • Title: Dress
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: 1878/1887
  • Location: Great Britain
  • Provenance: Given by Mrs Gibbs
  • Medium: Printed cotton with lace trim

Additional Items

Get the app

Explore museums and play with Art Transfer, Pocket Galleries, Art Selfie, and more


Google apps