Last weekend I attended one of the best local museum exhibits I've seen in a long time. The Lakes Region Historical Society in Antioch, Illinois, had an exhibit on Civil War era dresses ranging from the 1850s through the 1870s. They were all absolutely stunning.
From fancy silk gowns . . .
. . . to cotton day dresses.
Civil War wrapper, worn exclusively at home, in the mornings.
Wrapper over a dressing gown
Love the strip cut on the bias for a little contrast. Today, we turn fabric under to hem a skirt. In those days, hems were bound by a long strip of fabric that could be removed and replaced if the hem wore out.
I learned that some aprons were decorative and also fashion accessories, instead of simple work aprons.
A young woman's fancy dance dress. It was inappropriate for a woman to show her arms before evening.
A wonderful display of an amazing collection.
I found out about the exhibit by chance, only one day before it ended. What luck. After I talked to the curator, she said the response had been great and they may extend it through this coming weekend, until Sept 7, 2014. If you live in the northern Illinois or even southern Wisconsin area and love this time period, I urge you to go see it. Call first to make sure it's still open. Then grab a friend and make the drive (it took us an hour to get there). It is so worth it and you won't be disappointed. Make sure you take the informative "tour" given by curator Ainsley Brook Wonderling. The dresses are all a part of her extensive and beautiful collection of 19th century artifacts.