This sweet round yoke baby dress is the last of the six that hang in the nursery here at our home (see post Nana’s Nursery). With a numerous embellishments, it clearly took considerable time to make.
As usual, I thought about its maker and wondered if the dress had been made for a child, grandchild or perhaps a niece. Obviously, it was lovingly stitched. Due to the range of skills exhibited, I even wondered if it had been a group project, perhaps mother and daughter working together.
The simple but extensive embroidery appears to have been done by a very competent needleworker.
The three petal rose pattern is worked between the rows of tucks on the bodice, along the round yoke itself, between tucks on the puff sleeves and in a cascade down the skirt front. The coordinated designs are carefully stitched.
But the tucks tell a different story, one perhaps of perseverance rather than skill. On the bodice, the tucks are uneven, but still effective.
On the back, twelve larger 1/4″ tucks add pleasing fullness to the skirt. Their parallel placement is more accurate than the thirty-six bodice tucks.
But a casual look at the sleeves raises the question, “Why?” Why were they spaced so irregularly? Were they stitched by a younger family member and left as witness to budding skills?
The cutwork edge at the neckline and cuff edge again appear to be stitched satisfactorily.
What we see is handwork at a higher level of achievement than the machine work.
After I purchased this dress, I saw this ad for a similar dress in a Herrshners’ catalogue. As I read that the dress and “Gertrude ” (slip) could be purchased ready-made, stitched in the Philippines, I was reminded of many of the Chinese made embroidered bed and table linens. So many have lovely handwork but painfully inept machine work. Often, it appears that the machines were very inadequate for the job. Often you see wads of thread on the bobbin side and skipped stitched everywhere.
Is that what story of this dress? Of course, we will never know. These old beauties keep their secrets and keep us guessing.