Drum-roll please! Today I present for you the oldest garment currently in my collection. This bodice dates to early in the “regency” fashion era, and has many earmarks of that unique transitional era in women’s clothing… when we get a mash up of construction techniques that were used in the 18th century, and the techniques that will become common in the 19th century.

The bodice is made of black silk and is lined in linen. We start with the back:


The center back piece is sewn as one with the lining, while the rest of the garment is separately constructed (common to garments of this era, the fashion fabric is folded under and stitched on top of the lining seams.)  To the front:


The lining  is in two pieces which overlap and pin shut. The front of the silk has a drawstring casing at the neck edge. The drawstring would have been pulled up and the bodice would have been gathered in the front.


Here is a closer view of the tucks on the back, which adds a nice decorative element to this bodice. Also, note how the sleeves are set- the armyce comes into the area of the shoulder blades. There are less than 8″ in between the sleeves.


The underarm area of the bodice is very carefully mended on both sides where the fabric had worn thin.


Each sleeve has a long and narrow gusset in the underarm seam.

The sleeve cuff is gently rounded, and judging by the length of the sleeves, likely hit about the knuckle of the wearer.


Other sleeve mend.


There is the remains of a tie at the center back. This would help ensure a snug fit of the bodice on the wearer. Here, you can see how much longer the lining is than the fashion fabric.


This is the inside of one side of the front of the bodice. The fabric in many places has just been folded to fit- you can see how much fabric was left hanging below the casing for the drawstring.


The fitting of the lining- also started with one large piece of fabric that was folded and stitched to fit.


The front of the lining would have been straight pinning shut.


Ahh. Beautiful lining, and another view of how far into the back the sleeves are set! You can also see the stitching line where the fashion fabric ends on the outside.