Mint green rayon dress, 1920s, worn by Jeanette W. Rubin (1894-1982, Mrs. Louis D. Rubin, Sr.) of Charleston and Richmond. The “flapper” style dress is shirred at the sides of the low waistline and has a delightful picot-stitched handkerchief hem. The picot stitch, a loop of thread between blanket stitches, was often used for binding the bottom edge of soft garments.
What shapes this dress so beautifully is the bias cut of the fabric. Perfected by French designer Madeleine Vionnet, the bias cut was used extensively on 1920s dresses, adding elasticity (so no fastener was needed) and allowing the skirt to fall in graceful fluted folds.
This dress was made of artificial silk, called rayon after 1924. In 1894, British inventors, Charles Cross, Edward Bevan and Clayton Beadle, patented a safe, practical method of making artificial silk or viscose rayon. It was first commercially produced in the United States in 1910.
Jeanette’s husband, after moving to Richmond from Charleston in the 1930s, became a self-taught weather expert known in Virginia as “The Weather Wizard” for his extremely long range predictions and published a book about cloud formations. Her son, Louis D. Rubin, Jr. is a well-known historian, literary critic and novelist.
TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from our textile collection. Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our new Historic Textiles Gallery and some may be just too fragile to display. We hope you enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on TEXTILE TUESDAY! #TextileTuesday