Jennie Goodman's Wedding Dress (1878)

I've been sitting on this pattern for a while because this is, frankly, one of my favorites of the dresses I put online at the Chapman.

CHM 1971.38.1 (pattern available at link)
Now, the photo is not great. It's a decent view of the bodice, but you don't get a good sense of the elaborate drapery and the classic early Natural Form train. There are a few other shots on the website, but there's nothing like seeing a dress on a mannequin. Unfortunately, this gown has some structural issues, possibly due to being on a hanger for a long time (though it was in a box when I got there), and can probably never be dressed, which is one reason I wanted to pattern it.

The slender princess line would make this tricky to fit, which is why I haven't tried to make it yet (as well as the utter confusion of the pattern itself, which was phenomenally difficult to take and had me contemplating just putting the dress back several times). It's very close-fitting from the neckline to the thighs, and even in the sleeves. A great challenge!

Unlike the Natural Form gown in Waugh, this dress opens in the front and uses an apron-like panel for the front of the skirt. The back of the bodice extends into a trained overskirt, and the front is covered by a tablier like earlier and later bustle gowns. So while the pattern is many times more confusing than Waugh's, it is somewhat more forgiving.

Parisian fashions, Peterson's, January 1877; CCDL
The white afternoon/dinner dress here is the closest I can find to show how it would look when worn.

The dress was worn by one Jennie Smith (1860-1901) when she married Samuel Boyd Goodman (1852-1920) on October 15, 1878. They had two children, Helen Louise, who died as a child, and Juliet Gould, born in 1888. Juliet grew up to marry first Clifford Allen, in 1928, and later Frederick Braydon Chapman. Chapman had been previously married as well, to Mabel DeLong (who had also been previously married, by the way - to Harry Austin, who died in 1918). The DeLong family had always been the owners of the house on Glen Street which is now the Chapman Historical Museum, but because of this complicated tangle of second marriages, it's named for someone with hardly any tie to them!


  1. Great designs, very varied too. Clothing for woman with good natural and floral patterns always look very fresh.


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