Godey's Lady's, Ballgowns and Women who Sewed for People

18thVirginia

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#1
Unlike many women of my age, I didn't learn to sew in Home Economics. My grandmother had two lady neighbors who lived across the street that "sewed for other people" or "took in sewing." I hung out and watched as "Dovie" cut out dress fabric and then eventually taught me to use a sewing machine. To this day I hem a skirt in the unique way that she instructed.

Looking at the photos of women from the Civil War era and then at some of the dresses and gowns pictured in Godey's Lady's Book, I was reminded of a time when our mothers sewed our dresses and Sunday morning might find three of us in the pew wearing the same Simplicity dress, only in different colors. So, I thought it would be fun to see how closely the seamstresses of the era, whether they sewed commercially or for themselves, followed the fashionistas of the 1860s as presented by Godey's.

It also occurred to me that it's a great way to date photos, by trying to match fashions with the years in which they appeared in the magazines of the era. So, this thread will feature photos of Civil War era women and Civil War era magazine fashions. We'll also add in some current photos of gowns and dresses produced by seamstresses of our own era for reenactments for comparison.

The first lady that we look at has to be Varina Davis, who was a First Lady in real life. Here are two photos of her elegant gown:

varina-davis-loc.jpg


410scr_adb48ed612ade02.jpg


And here's one from Godey's Lady's Book in 1860:

godeys1860seaside.jpg
 

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Allie

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#2
Elizabeth Keckley (who sewed for both Varina Davis and Mary Todd Lincoln) comes instantly to mind, but I don't know much about any other successful seamstresses of the time period. Great idea for a thread.
 

18thVirginia

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#12
It's listed as part of the Civil War era Brady photos, from 1860-1865.

Here's another Godey's illustration with a similar inset neckline from September 1862.

plate-28-september-1862.jpg


And the Watteau Coiffure from the 1864 Ladies Friend magazine:

LadiesFriend1864-5-47.jpg


de751bbae46a11410060d311b250b1bd-2.jpg
 
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James B White

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#13
Note how her ears show entirely, and the hair starts up at the sides, rather than back or down. In the Godey's plates, the ears are all at least partially covered. I'd stand by my estimate that it's post-war. Ain't no way she stumbled upon the most typical post-war hairstyle in a pre-1865 photo, unless she's a time traveler.

Here's the style she's got, upswept, ears uncovered, long in back: http://www.google.com/search?q=1869...3.3333333333334&bih=533.3333333333334&dpr=1.5

I wish I could search by image on this computer, to see if anyone else has identified her or more about the photo.
 

donna

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#19
Godey's Lady's Book was the most popular magazine for women in the 19th century. It had a circulation of 150,000 during the 1860s.

The magazine was founded by Louis Godey and received its widest circulation under the leadership of Sarah Josepha Hale who was editor from 1837 thru 1877.
 

18thVirginia

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Thank you, donna. I was so focused on putting together the photos that I hadn't gotten around to writing about Godey's. But you had written about the magazine in a previous thread, I think.
 

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