The garment came to the museum without a shift and cannot be displayed without one.
The dress is a natural beige color, possibly Indian cotton due to the fine quality? The dress is in need of a cleaning to bring out the beauty of the fabric but otherwise is in good condition. The sleeves are double layer, the under layer opaque cotton, the top layer sheer with embroidery. The front bib buttons near the shoulders with two fabric covered metal buttons and the skirt wraps and ties under the bust in the traditional Regency style. The skirt is gathered along the empire line, is quite full and there is a considerable train.
There is embroidery all over the dress in floral patterns. There is a silk ribbon belt (not photographed) in a golden, mustard color and purple edging in what looks like a grosgrain ribbon weave.
To my knowledge, this dress could have been worn to less formal evening events and represents the wearer as well off enough to afford such a good quality dress but not vastly rich or royal.
Once we put this dress on the mannequin and lowered it so the hem touched the floor, the height of the owner could not have been more than 5ft 4". The dress looked quite small while I was standing next to it.
detail of front laying flat
front on a mannequin
back laying flat
back on the mannequin
We have decided to create the shift out of silk in a golden color that compliments the belt.
I am in the process of sourcing fabric and am finding matching the color to be particularly difficult, so that may change in the future.
I will use silk thread to sew the garment and cotton lacing at the neckline of the shift.
The shift will not be as full as the dress and will not have a train.
I have made the first toile of muslin and have marked the corrections to the shape of the front and back neckline. We have decided to make the shift sleeveless since the dress already has a double sleeve and would add too much bulk.
The muslin needed to be longer and fuller in general. I'm now working on the revised pattern of the shift and will prepare a new toile to fit in the next month.