Presented at the Daughters of the American Revolution Meeting
Ann Arbor City Club, 1830 Washtenaw Avenue
On November 15, 2018, nine members of the Ann Arbor Chapter of the Daughters of the Revolution (DAR) stepped back in time as they slipped into gowns representing the fashions of the mid-1800s to 1900. The members modeled the elegant costumes made by Dexter fabric artist Helen Welford, and the audience got a glimpse of how evening dresses might have looked on their grandmothers and great-grandmothers. Helen not only shared details of sleeve styles, bodice and skirt designs, period fabrics, and trim, she described historic events and innovations that influenced the styles.
Helen is a retired arts program coordinator at the University of Michigan and has been a fiber artist most of her life. She designs and sews custom new dresses in vintage styles from the 1810s to 1930s. Helen draws her ideas from illustrations, old patterns and photographs of women’s dresses, and she does extensive research on changing silhouettes, necklines, waistlines, sleeves, and detailing.
The members of the DAR are lineal descendants of Revolutionary War patriots. The DAR was founded in 1890 and is the oldest patriotic organization in the nation. The focuses of this hereditary society are education, patriotism, and historic preservation. The Ann Arbor Chapter of the DAR is named after its founder, Sarah Caswell Angell. From its inception in 1897, the chapter has provided support for the maintenance of historic markers and gravesites, for the preservation of documents in historical libraries and private collections, and for the care of both active duty and veteran military personnel.
The opportunity to take part in Helen Welford’s historic dressmaking presentation at the Ann Arbor City Club was a chance to feel part of times gone by.