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November 4, 2015

Completely.  Sewn.  By.  Hand.

Englishman Thomas Saint is credited with the invention of the sewing
machine in 1790 but it took almost 100 years for a practical machine to
be manufactured and used commercially.  Up until the late 19th century
all clothing was tailored and stitched by hand.

Hand sewn and embroidered British court gown, 1740

Back view of French gown, 1755:
 French day gown, ca 1780
We get eye fatigue from gazing at our computer screen too long.
Imagine stitching this gorgeous creation by candlelight.

English silk wedding gown, 1828:

German silk and cotton gown, 1830:

British silk gown, 1835:

American silk day gown, 1840:
Close up attention to detail

Portuguese Court Gown, ca 1845:

English wedding gown, 1850:

Gown worn by Queen Victoria to the
Great Exhibition in London, 1851:

Italian court gown, 1857:

1860's ball gown:

American evening gown, 1865:

Princess Elizabeth of Austria coronation gown, 1867:
Purchasing off-the-rack machine stitched clothing was considered bourgeois
by the wealthy.  It was well into the 20th century before the upper crust
consented to designers using sewing machines to create their couture clothing.

Because organic fabrics like silk and cotton don't age well it's a wonder
that the gowns shown today have been preserved.  Thankfully (or not!)
non-organic materials such as polyester and rayon will be around for
centuries.  Is that a good thing?!


  1. How wonderful all those lovely and detailled gowns.


  2. Just the thought of the hundreds of hours working by candlelight exhausts me. These gowns are beyond exquisite.