Pleated trimming on dress (c. 1870)

c. 1870 Dress at Smith College

Just recently we looked at pleated trim on 1860s gowns. While I was thinking of that post I was reminded of this gown, which has fabulous pleated trim! It is in the historic costume collection at Smith College, in Northampton, Massachusetts. It was prepared for display and further storage during a historic clothing conservation workshop I took part in a few years ago.

I love the pleated trimming on this dress! It reminds me of origami, in that simple pleats and folds combine to create such a complicated looking outcome.

c. 1870 Dress at Smith College
c. 1870 Dress at Smith College
Pleated trimming on c. 1870 Dress at Smith College

Did you look closely? The pleats are actually just box pleats whose outward pleats have been pressed up or down respectively at the very edges to create the diamond shapes. It’s so neat! I do hope to be able to use this pleated motif on a reproduction dress at some point. I’ll have to scrounge up lots of patience to make yards of a trimming that will be so detailed… but it will be amazing and if I do it in manageable sections it actually does sound like fun!

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