Featured Object

In each issue, the bimonthly DAR magazine, American Spirit, highlights an object from the DAR Museum collection in its "National Treasures" feature. These objects, often recent accessions or important pieces in the current exhibit, always have a story to tell about American history.

National Treasures

Dress for the Ages

The sleeves and gathers of this little dress have been altered from their original appearance, but its charm is undiminished. The cheerful turquoise blue wool blend is set off by multicolored floral embroidery at the edges of both sleeves and skirt. The embroidery resembles Berlin work, or what we would now call needlepoint, except that it is embroidered on the wool instead of a canvas grid.

The bodice and skirt of this dress are actually constructed of one piece, with gathers at the waist creating the effect of two separate pieces. At some point the waist gathers have been either deliberately let out or have come undone, resulting in an uneven appearance. Woven tapes inside the dress stabilize the gathers at both the waist and the front of the neckline.

While they’re not visible in this photograph, the garment features two-tiered sleeves, echoing a style popular in adult women’s dresses of the 1840s. The longer sleeve pieces originally may have been connected to the shorter sleeves. Conceivably, the sleeves were detached and stitched in as needed, allowing the dress to be worn both in warm and cold weather. Children’s clothes were frequently reused by younger siblings, so the sleeves might be attached, detached and reattached several times throughout the lifetime of the garment.  

Volume 145, Number 3, May/June 2011, Page 7
Photography by Mark Gulezian

More National Treasures

Sitting Pretty

To the Rescue

Strange Brew

Tayloe Family Ties

Ornamental Trio

Reviving the Stone

A Record to Remember

Strong Set

Fashion Flashback

Let's Go Ride a Bike


Isn't It Romantic

A Rockin' Good Toy

The Mystery of Mother and Child

Keep Cool

Historical Register

Banjo Time

Getting Warmer

Virginia Map Quest

Serve It Up

Greatest Toy on Earth

Dress for the Day

Boston Uncommon

A Teapot to Revere

Seats of Honor

Birthday Threads


Play On

Top Drawer

Burning Bright

Seated in Revolution

Something to Crow About

Sister Stitch

Tea Time

Capturing Cherubs

A Link to the Past

Brushes with Fame

Something Borrowed

Supper Is Served

Stately Seats

Heirloom High Chest

Making Beautiful Music

Forged From Fire

For Madame's Trousseau

Let It Out

Heavenly Harmonies

Priceless Pooch

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