1800s Children’s wear

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Categories: Childrenswear |
Leonie c1860 Royal blue taffeta with a fine black stripe, child’s party dress



















Leonie’s party dress is made of royal blue taffeta with a fine black stripe. The wide neckline is edged with the same braid that forms the waist band. The short cap sleeves have rouching while the skirt is gathered with a back opening. There is a pocket in the skirt on the right-hand side. Under Leonie’s dress you can just see white pantalets, which have appliquéd piping and leg gathers. 


This was the characteristic child’s day dress of the period for toddlers to mid-teen girls. These dresses were modelled on their mother’s gowns with only the length changing according to age, from knee length for toddlers to calf length for the older girls.























c1858 Alice

Alice wore this simple white cotton dress with a front panel on the bodice when she was two. The skirt is handmade broderie anglaise with broderie epaulets on the short sleeves. The skirt is gathered with a drawstring at the waist and buttons down the back. This white dress could be easily washed and although it is ornate with lace panels, it is an everyday outfit rather than one for a special occasion. 


Alice grew up near Goulburn NSW and was a remarkable woman. In 1877 she married William Chisholm, who was a lot older than she and he died quite young, leaving her with five children.

In 1915 she sailed to Egypt where her youngest son was in the army hospital, having been wounded at Gallipoli. She set up a canteen there to provide food and recreation for the troops, serving tea and buns for a nominal fee, which enabled her to buy more supplies. Within 20 months she had more canteens in many other cities in the region.

Alice devoted her time after the war to helping found RSL Clubs. In 1918 she was awarded an OBE and in 1920 she became a Dame of the British Empire for her services.





















c1840 Isabella

Isabella is a sage green, taffeta dress with exaggerated puffed sleeves and a wide scooped neck. The dress has a high waist with a slightly gathered bodice and a pleated skirt. It is lined with polished cotton. The dress reflects the women’s style of the period and as such would have been Isabella’s best dress.