1855 Small boy's tartan dress

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1855 Small boy's tartan dress
Date 1855-1865
Category Children
Item Dress
Fabric Wool, woven pattern
Decoration Ribbons, Embroidered cotton edging
Wearer -
Maker -
Acc. no. HC.D-11.84-1

1855-1865 A dress in polychrome checked wool, for a small boy.

The dress mounted


Boys often wore dresses similar to girls' until they were about three or four years old.

The wool is mostly in a plain weave, with a polychrome striped warp and a white wool weft, but the coloured weft stripes are in a sateen weave so their colour predominates.

The bodice is lined with cream cotton and the skirt with white glazed cotton.

There are eight hooks down the bodice centre back (although one is missing) with eight worked bars, and another set of bars about 1" away from the edge, maybe to make the dress fit a smaller child later. A linen tape drawstring, ½" wide, is in a channel inside the neck edge, tying at the back.

The front of the bodice has three box-pleats, 2¼" wide, with two rows of ¼" wide navy blue velvet ribbon, ½" apart, down centre of each. There are two similar box-pleats each side of the centre back opening.

The peplum is divided at the centre front and flares out from the waist; each half is cut as a quarter circle of the fabric, and is 4¼" deep at the centre back opening, 3¾" at sides and 2¾" at the front. Two rows of the velvet ribbon, about ¼" apart, form a geometric shape all round.

The skirt is double box-pleated into the waist under the peplum; boys' dresses were pleated all round, like this, but girls' often had a small section of cartridge pleats as well, each side of the centre back. A white cotton pocket lies between the skirt fabric and the lining, sewn to an opening 2" down from the waist in the side front seam to the right of centre.

The sleeves are 5¼" long in the centre, and have strips of the fabric sewn on the ends, folded up as cuffs, 1" wide, with two rows of ribbon on each.

White cutwork embroidered cotton edging is sewn inside the neck edge and sleeve ends, with ½" showing; this is now rather grubby.

Contemporary illustrations

Contemporary items

1855 Small boy's blue outfit

1857 Blue chiné taffeta dress

1858 Brown silk dress