Acquired from the estate of costume designer Shirley Russell
Fine cotton fabrics, such as muslin, organdie and lawn were widely used for summer dresses at around this time. This four piece dress, comprising a bodice, skirt, apron style overskirt and linen underbodice has made particularly effective use of the translucent character of plain and printed muslins. The fabric of the skirt has been printed with tiny black diamonds and vertical bands of light and dark blue pattern. The overskirt (see Additional Images), bodice and underbodice are of plain fabric bordered with patterned bands that have been cut from the skirt fabric; the borders of the short sleeves and the low round neck of the camisole style underbodice can be seen through the fabric of the over bodice to produce an attractive and subtle effect.
A more conventional treatment of printed muslin can be seen in the Related Item. This summer dress, also dated to the late 1860s, is trimmed rather unimaginatively, with frills and flounces of the same fabric; however, its particularly finely executed design of lilies of the valley lift it out of the mundane.