Silk & Stitch, An Exploration of Embellishment in Fashion

Previously on display from July 2019 – September 2020, Silk & Stitch explores the role of the embellishment as a research tool to encourage greater thought about the expanding roles of women and the circumstances that influenced fashion from 1870 – 1960.

Our time-traveling exploration highlights embellishments on garments and accessories from the DeKalb History Center’s textile collection as well as pieces on loan from generous outside sources.

For more information on the garments and accessories, please view the Silk & Stitch Booklet.

The mannequins in this exhibit were funded in part through a special “adoption” campaign. These donors, identified on their descriptions, have also provided the mannequins with names.

Mint Dress, circa 1960s

Embellished with lace appliqué

Mannequin name: Dot
Adopted by Cathy Mullins
Dedicated to Dorothy S. Maddox

Parachute Dress, circa 1945

Silk, embroidery floss
Embellished with padded satin stitch, stem stitch

Mannequin name: Annie Lou
Adopted by The Howard Family

Black Beaded Dress, circa 1930s

Rayon (or silk)
Embellished with tambour beaded glass seed beads and glass bugle beads

Mannequin name: Claudia
Adopted by Jane Royall

Blue Beaded Dress, circa 1930s

Rayon (or silk)
Embellished with ruched sweetheart neckline, tambour beading with glass seed beads and glass bugle beads

Mannequin name: Jazzy
Adopted by Jacqui and Larry Steele

Brown Dress, circa 1930s

Rayon crepe, self-fabric belt
Embellished with hand beaded glass seed beads and faux pearls, prong-set rhinestones, bound buttonholes

Mannequin name: Mary Louise McWilliams Huey
Adopted by Huey and Strickland Families

Pink Shawl, circa 1920s

Silk (or rayon)
Embellished with hand-knotted fringe, hand embroidered satin stitch and seed stitch

Adopted by Anonymous

Peach Slip, circa 1920s

China silk, lace
Embellished with filet lace, hand embroidered satin stitched flowers, drawn threadwork, shadow embroidery, vertical lines of hem-stitching

Adopted by Anonymous

Pink Dress, circa 1912-1914

Cotton gauze
Embellished with lace, bias-cut china silk chevrons, pink soutache braid, silk velvet knot, silk velvet overlaid with metallic lace, narrow pink velvet ribbon, cream velvet ribbon edged in soutache applied with a black chevron embroidery stitch, teardrop-shaped medallions, embroidered trim

Mannequin name: Ada
Adopted by Elizabeth Simpson

Purple Dress, circa 1910s

Silk satin, silk chiffon sleeves, bias-cut silk faille hem
Embellished with hand embroidered satin-stitched flowers and leaves, chain-stitched scallops and stems, French knot accents, machine-stitched applied cording

Mannequin Name: Anndine
Adopted by Luanna Petti

Black Evening Coat, circa 1900-1910

Net, silk satin lapel and facing
Embellished with chain-stitched trim, satin-stitched trim, braided button loop

Mannequin name: Moppy
Adopted by Katherine and Gerard O’Connor
Dedicated to Martha Darnell and Katherine O Connor 

Yellow Tea Dress, circa 1890s

Silk surah, cotton lining
Embellished with ruching, silk ruffles, braided ribbon trim, silk satin bow, silk accents

Mannequin Name: Marie Rysdon
Adopted by Alice Rysdon

Black Mourning Coat, circa 1890s

Silk taffeta, horsehair
Embellished with soutache, horsehair braids, pleated taffeta border

Mannequin name: Katie Mathilda
Adopted by Lori Lynn Avirett-Mackenzie

Green and Orange Dress, circa 1890s

Silk peau de soie, silk damask, silk velvet
Embellished with bias-cut velvet applique and bows, bias-cut ruffles, feather stitching, lace

Adopted by Anonymous

Blue Afternoon Dress, circa 1880s

Silk faille, glazed cotton lining
Embellished with hand embroidery, hand worked button holes, hand stitched ruching, interfaced box pleats, decorative brass or bronze buttons

Mannequin name: Sallie
Adopted by Anonymous

Ivory Wedding Gown, circa 1880s

Silk peau de soie, lace, net
Embellished with bias-trim edged ruffles, lace, and bias-trim edged stems and leaf edges

Mannequin Name: Lucia Du Vinage Howard
Adopted by Lucia and Tom Sizemore
Dedicated to Dear Dear

Brown Dress, circa 1872-1880

Silk faille, glazed cotton lining
Embellished with appliqued alternating velvet and jacquard stripes, hand worked buttonholes, cotton-linen blend lace

Mannequin Name: Martha
Adopted by Anonymous

Blue Plaid Dress, circa 1870s

Silk taffeta, cotton lining
Embellished with scalloped edged pleated trim and satin weave border

Mannequin Name: Irene Adler
Adopted by Mary-Elizabeth Ellard

Colorful Beaded Purse, circa 1960s

Cotton, plastic
Embellished with plastic beads

White Satin Hat, circa 1950s

White satin
Embellished with glass beads, faux pearls, and rhinestones

Loaned item from Kat Nagar

Ivory Beaded Purse, circa 1925-1940

Synthetic satin lining
Embellished with glass beads and faux pearls

White Leather Glove, circa 1930-1940

Kid leather
Embellished with embroidered “lily of the valley” flowers

Blue Beaded Purse, circa 1920s

Embellished with glass beads

Loaned item from Kat Nagar

Embroidered Cap, circa 1920

Net, silk, satin weave
Embellished with couching embroidery on net

Beaded Purse with Butterfly, circa 1900

Steel frame, leather-lined interior, silk
Embellished with glass beads, paste gemstones

Blue Feather Purse, circa 1890-1920

Silk, metal
Embellished with fine blue feathers

Hair Earrings, circa 1860-1890

Human hair, rose gold