American Style and Spirit exhibit at the Henry Ford Musuem

I spent an enjoyable morning last weekend with my sewing buddy Karen as we took in The American Style and Spirit Exhibit at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, MI. A description of the exhibit from the Henry Ford website:

I snapped a few pics of the dresses I found memorable....either in design, choice of fabric or
in the construction details.
The exhibit is not set up chronologically, but rather by events in the women's lives who
most likely wore the outfits.

This amazing silk dress was the kick off, and I'll say it was pretty amazing: I can only imagine some restorative work must have been done on this late 1980's early 1900's dress, but it really could not be seen. 
It appeared to be in pristine condition:

STRIPES! The sleeves were pleated with tiny little pleats, finished with a very narrow
binding. Check out the flirty bow, that ruffle, and the cute little bustle in the back:

Lace never seems to go out of style, but what caught the eye was this gathered silk chiffon at the waist,   
 inset into the seam for detail:  (and of course there was a hat to match!)

This red wool suit is also a timeless design. Look closely at the photo below this one, you'll see
that buttonhole set into the seam. Actually, this construction detail could be found on 
several of  the suits in the collection. Again, the hat!!

Not much to say,  these outfits are just simply stunning. Again, see the pleated sleeve detail on the blush dress, more over sized pleats this time.

During the Depression, the family's shopping was more restrained economically. Sewing some of their own clothes was an answer! This red showstopper was hand sewn on a Singer Featherweight.

Another dress hand sewn by one of the women in the family, a knock off of a designer dress seen in a magazine:

Yes, there were wedding dresses! This rather plain dress had a pretty amazing  gathered train:

                                               This bias cut beauty with the draped cowl neckline
                                                        was worn to the Junior Prom.
                                             If you look closely at the photo in the background you
                                           can see it being worn at the Prom (first girl in from the right):

                                         The dress below was made with a fun fabric, perfect for the
                                     cruise it was worn on! Take a look at the waist detail, so flattering:

Another dress for the cruise ship, this time in 100% linen.
Cruise ship attire sure has changed!:

The seaming detail and those godets at the hem would make
for a fun dress to kick up your heels in! :

                            These days, with much of our clothing being so disposable, it was a treat to
                          see clothing as in investment. Many of these garments were worn by the women
                          in this family over several years, a  testament to the fine fabrics: silk, wool, linen,
                                                        that they were made of.
                         This did come at a cost though, but for this wealthy Midwestern family it
                           appeared that outside of the Depression era money was not an issue.

                            As a home sewist, my take away was to pay more attention to the
                           details on those garments I sew that are more investment-type pieces,
                              which may be more classic in design,  made with the best fabrics.

                           If you are in the Dearborn, MI area, this exhibit runs through April 2, 2017.



  1. Those outfits were fabulous. I don't think I could pick one favorite-there were so many beautiful dresses. The only thing that could have made the collection better was if it included purses & jewelry.

    1. I agree! It would have been fun to see the accessories :-)


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