The prairie dress is very well known in the general public. Some people think that it’s the ONLY dress style that women wore. They are wrong. But I am one of those causing this thought, because prairie dresses are my favorite style.
I have others, of course. I have fitted waist dresses, skirts and tops that were popular from the 1850s to the 1880s and 812 costume for the earlier years.
However, my tops have loose sleeves and my arms get cold. I COULD make a white fake sleeve that goes under the sleeve and it would help warm me. But, again, I’m pretty lazy and don’t ever get around to it.
My fitted-waist dress is worn out and the waist has shrunk so it doesn’t fit me as well as it did when I first made it (imagine that!).
I only wear my 1812 outfit at New Ulm, which insists on that time period for costumes.
But my prairie dresses!! Ah, those are divine!! One of the reasons they were popular was the idea that you could change sizes and not have to change dresses. There is ample room for growth or shrinkage in the dress. There is an apron to cinch in or release out the waist as it changes in size. You get pregnant, ease up on the apron strings. You have the baby, tighten the strings up. You gain weight, ease up on the apron strings. You lose weight, tighten up the strings.
I have two prairie dresses in my ‘stash’ of costumes. These are what I wear the most. My most favorite is a soft brown check “homespun” material. I have worn it so often that I have shredded the hem – hence putting a black strip around the hem for protection and added length. I have worn the cuffs to practically bare threads, so the black edging was put on there, as well. My collar is starting to become thread bare, so that will get an edge, soon. I have a couple of holes, due to burns or tears; they have been patched. This brown dress is about 7 years old and is still going strong.
Worn, faded, patched prairie dress
Cinched in as far as my waist allows with a stained pin apron
My other one is a lavender print that is only about 3 years old, so it has many miles to go before I have to do any patching, the gods willing!
I have another dress (top and skirt) cut out and need to put it together before the State Fair ... there needs to be at least 4 dresses for the 12 days. However, once that one is sewn, I think I’ll look for some more homespun material and make another prairie dress. One can never have too many, correct?
Well, now ............ this is the last day of January, 2007. How time flies!! We are marching quickly into February; the winter is nearly done and spring is just around the corner! You have a beautiful day!