“Twice turned” silk 1879 era gown with original figured lace, all from Paris that I made for the one (and only) day I was a tourist in Tombstone fourteen years ago. The silk was completely stained with mine tailings from the street, so it had to be taken apart and turned, then I remade it in the latest style.
Here are a couple of pictures of the process:
Above is a deconstruction shot showing all the fading and dirt that I couldn’t get out. And now:
Above is a reconstruction shot showing WHY I put dirt-colored silk pleats on the hem. Those are removable, by the way. 🙂
“Twice turned dresses” were a common practice in the 19th century, in a time where quality labor was cheap and textiles were expensive…the opposite of today! (One can easily find phrases in diaries like: “They were so poor they wore twice turned dresses”, etc.) Women (or their dressmakers) would pick apart their gowns, clean and press the pieces as best they could, then literally turn them over to expose the other side, flatline them to their foundation layers, and re-construct the gown, either in the same style, or to update their look.
My poor skirt had two generations of red silty mine tailings (sticky dust) that simply couldn’t be cleaned…so I did what all of the original ladies in Tombstone did…and turned the silk, et voila…New/Old gown, for 1879! Of course, we use original machines, and since our home in town was actually where one of the town’s original dressmaker/tailors lived and worked…it was a special experience. We like to think she’s still sewing there with me because one is never alone when you’re working at No. 11!