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(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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This dress, made of maroon velvet and ribbed silk, was purchased in 1888 by Mrs. Joseph Wells Stevens. Mrs. Stevens was the wife of Joseph Wells Stevens, an active resident of Greenfield. The dress, which is in very good condition, still retains the label of the Boston shop where it was purchased, C.E. Lee, located on Boylston Street. The practice of dressmakers stitching labels inside their creations only began about the middle to end of the 1800s. Hand-stiched and machine-sewn, it was worn with a matching bonnet and illustrates an up-to-the-minute fashion for the late 1880s. By this time, the bustle had all but disappeared. In this case only a vestigial bustle remains, built-in to the lower back area of the separate petticoat to provide skirt fullness. There is no waist seam; instead the fit is achieved through a princess line silhouette, with vertical seams piecing eight separate pieces make up the bodice, a testimony to intricate tailoring.
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