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Bustles to Bikinis Yakima Valley Museum
Rough handling/Insensitive Alterations
1890s Blue Velvet Tea Gown

with Battenberg Lace Insert Panels, worn for afternoon teas and visiting occasions when elaborate dress was required.

Alterations were made to allow this gown to be worn by someone who was both smaller in the bust and waistline and somewhat shorter. The sleeves were removed, shortened, and reset into the armhole incorrectly. This reduced the original shoulder fullness and caused tearing in the underarm. The skirt was also removed to shorten the bodice and back yoke, and was then resewn unevenly into the waist. Thus the lace and cording on the skirt no longer match the bodice decoration. A tear in the back of the bodice was never mended, but tears in the back of the skirt were mended with iron-on tape. Finally, the lining was poorly mended and reattached without resizing so that it no longer fits the dress. There is also some fading from exposure to light.

The basic design, the train, the detailed hand embroidery, and much of the original rich silk and velvet fabrics remain and allow for restoration to be considered. Although some of the pieces which have been removed in the resizing can never be replaced, it is possible to return the garment to much of its original form and beauty.
It is estimated that this gown would cost $1100 to repair by hand. In today's market it would be worth approximately $2000 if in mint condition.

 blue velvet



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