Welsh costume doll gowns

D8.4 Bedgown backD4.4 Bedgown backD26.4 bedgown back

Cardiganshire / Carmarthenshire     Pembrokeshire                        North-west Wales

Most of the 19th century dolls in Welsh costume have gowns or bedgowns rather than a separate bodice and skirt. The fabrics are similar to surviving examples of adult costumes with two main differences:
(1) most of them have not been processed into flannel and therefore have no nap, so the individual threads are visible;
(2) the flaps covering the bossom on the Cardiganshire/Carmarthenshire and the Pembrokeshire gowns overlap on the dolls but normally just have their edges touching on adult gowns.

Several types of gown are identifiable on the dolls and these generally correspond with the different types of adult gown, but some of the fronts of the gowns were obscured by shawls and other items which could not be removed, so they could not be classified. This also meant that any lining to the gowns could not normally be examined.

See glossary of terms for definitions.

The following photographs and descriptions are arranged according to type.

  • Cardiganshire / Carmarthenshire type 1
  • Cardiganshire / Carmarthenshire type 2
  • Pembrokeshire type
  • North-west Wales type
  • Long tail, but front obscured by shawls etc.

Cardiganshire / Carmarthenshire type 1 (with the back of the bodice and skirt in one piece)


D38.2 Apron waist tie back

Gown of striped dark-blue and red flannel with buttons at the small of the back and short sleeves, terminating in a fold, on which there is a band of watered silk.  Fitted/tailored bodice with round neck, CF opening with points at waist.  Skirt CFs have selvages turned in and hemmed.  Back is full length from bodice to hem made in one piece but with pleat at waist into CB bodice seam.  Bodice side seams from almost CB to mid armhole.  Two covered buttons either side of CB at waist. Skirt of back panel is gored into side seam with gored front sections.  Front skirt is cut on the straight.   3/4 length sleeves, trimmed with ribbed silk ribbon (same as ribbon on waistband of apron – 38.2)


D11 reverse D11.6 Bedgown LHside a

Gown of weft-striped heavy flannel made up 2 bodice fronts overlapping at CF right over left, shoulder seams on shoulder,  CF cut on straight grain but angled to overlap.  Pinned in place.  Long set-in sleeves but turned back to elbow, cuffs bound with black ribbon.  Back bodice cut in one piece.  Bodices sewn over the skirt part with rough oversew stitch. Back skirt panels made of two pieces with front edges cut on straight grain and CB cut on cross – as an A -line.  Front corners pinned together a CB with one pin.  CB seam machine stiched pressed open and flat.  CB waist – inverted box pleat into waist.

Fabric: Weft-striped heavy flannel. Warp: black wool; weft: wool black and red. White cotton almost invisible stripe. Finish : fulled, raised, and calenderd/pressed. Fulling prevents counting of black weft


D8.4 Bedgown back D8 gown

The photographs were taken under different lighting conditions. That on the right is more correct.

Full length gown of striped flannel/linsey wolsey with open front.  Right and left bodice fronts overlap right over left.   RH front is pleated to give shape and match the edge on the LH front.   Secured at the L front with five steel pins, plus four thorns inserted horizontally.  Back bodice panel from neck to waist.  Cut-away skirt of gown, one piece with two box pleats into waist. Two covered buttons at back waist at top of box pleats.  Back bodice attached to front bodice panels with princess line seam from near CB waist to mid arm hole. Elbow-length set-in  sleeves.  Bodice lined with black fabric.  Front edges of back panel turned out, selvedge down RH side. Lower hem corner of RH side folded across corner by 8cm and stiched in place underneath. Two covered buttons at back waist – unknown core material, covered in same fabric as gown.

Fabric: Warp-striped flannel/linsey wolsey. Warp: grey cotton, green stripe – wool, but scales not clearly defined and different shades of green within sample, grey stripe wool but mixed wool, scales not clearly defined; weft: predominantly wool but possibly some cotton too but might be contaminated sample from warp, predominantly black but made up of different colours visible under microscope – blue, red, yellow, brown. Fabric might be made up of reused fibre – shoddy, recycled due to worn scales of wool, mixed fibres and colours in each yarn.

Cardiganshire / Carmarthenshire type 2 (with separate skirt sewn to the bottom of the bodice)


D10 Front D10 reverse

Gown made up of back bodice in one piece, two front bodice with 1.5cm overlap at CF. Slight V neck line but high. Long sleeves and back skirt which starts at side, made in one piece gathered into bodice at waist.  Corners of back tail/skirt tied together at CB with black silk ribbon. Wool flannel, machine and hand stitched.

Fabric: Black and red wool in loom state.


D14.3 bedgown front D14.3 bedgown lining

Front-opening gown, of striped linsey-wolsey, with 3/4 length sleeves, constructed as follows: skirt/tail shaped at lower front corners, pleated into waistband and attached to bodice. Bodice formed from two front & one back panels, fastening at CF with five metal hooks & eyes, darts on front panels. Sleeves are one piece each, seamed at CF, ruched cuff at seam. Bodice & sleeves are lined with cotton. All edges are finished with narrow silk tape. Cotton lining to bodice & sleeves.

Fabric: Striped linsey-wolsey, hanging vertically. Warp: blue linen/cotton; weft: white, red, dark blue wool.


D22.4 bedgown back detail D22.4 bedgown back d22 bedgown front

Open-fronted gown of red, black and blue flannel check, with bodice and long sleeves, skirt waist gathered into narrow wool tape and attached to bodice. Wrap-over style at front, pinned to doll. All edges finished with narrow tape. One piece skirt, bodice back, bodice front two pieces, two sleeves one piece each.

Fabric: Red, black and blue wool flannel check


D36.3 bedgown

The skirt is made from one piece and gathered into a strip of piping around waist which is sewn to the bodice, the edges are turned and finished. The bodice is made in three pieces, seamed at sides and shoulders. It has short, elbow length sleeves with a narrow cuff, the fabric is gathered at shoulder and cuff. The bodice is lined with fine woven fabric also constructed from three pieces but the sleeves are not lined. There is also a strip of piping around neck. The front of the gown is fastened with two lacquered metal hooks and stitched loops at neck and waist.

Fabric: Plain weave wool flannel with raised surface.


Pembrokeshire type


can7437aD1.4 Bedgown waist detail D1.4 Bedgown back b

Short gown,  half length set in sleeves, low round neck line, bodice fronts overlap left over right and secured with two pins into body. Shoulder seams towards back.  Front bodice pieces drawn into waist pleat at back and seamed diagonally to back panels from almost centre back waist to arm hole. Front bodices extend below waist into long rounded points (overlapped). Two back panels (bodice and skirt in one) joined with CB seam.  Extra side back panels or peplum of different cloth attached at waist to side of long back panel.  Three pleats to back below waist held in place by three pins.  Centre pin holding fabric 2.8cm long, corroded. Pins holding fabric to pleats 2cm long and untarnished.  The added peplum sides are of a slightly lighter fabric and might be a later addition
Fabric: Plain brown weft faced linsey-wolsey.

Ribbon on sleeves: Folded ribbons sewn to lower edges of sleeves around elbow height same ribbon as used on cap. On adult gowns, this is normally black.

Type: This is a Pembrokeshire type of gown – plain brown fabric with short tail. The doll has no provenance but it is in Pembrokeshire Museums and assumed to come from that county. It, and its male companion, are unfinished and might have been made for display.

Fabric: Brown weft faced linsey-wolsey , twill – herringbone, cotton warp, wool weft. There are two similar fabrics in the gown: in fabric 1 the cotton warp is entirely covered by wool weft so meeting definition of linsey wolsey. Fabric 2 is thicker than fabric 1 with warp and weft inaccessible beneath raised surface.


D4.4 Bedgown front waist and pins D4.4 Bedgown bodice D4.4 Bedgown back

Short gown of plain brown linsey-wolsey, cross over fronts (right over left), deep neck line, back cut in one piece but a dart from waist to neck forms CB seam.  Princess line seams attach back panel to fronts, side peplums sewn to waistline.  Back panels form pleats at waist.  Front panels held in place by 3 pins.  Set in sleeves to just below elbow trimmed with black silk ribbon.  Two faceted black buttons of glass or jet on either side of centre back sewn to top of pleats. The skirt is of striped material.

This is in the collection of Tenby Museum, Pembrokeshire and the gown is of a Pembrokeshire type. It and D5 were made for Miss Emily Warren Davies and her sister by their aunt, Christmas, 1889. The costume was said to be like that of the Llangwm women, Pembrokeshire, who gathered and sold shell food.

Fabric: Linsey-wolsey. Selvedge down LHS seam attaching back panel to front. Cotton warp, brown, (selvedge has red and pink warp); brown weft but made up of 3 shades within the yarn – red, blue, brown.


D5.4 Bedgown bodice D5.4 Bedgown back-2

Short gown of striped fabric, cross over fronts (left over right), v neck line, back cut in one piece but a dart from neck to waist forms CB seam.  Princess line seams attach back panels to fronts, side peplums sewn to waistline. Same cut as D4 but different fabric.   Front panels over lap stitched in place with CB seam off-set to the right. Ribbons of black silk tied around sleeve. Badly faded front and back.

This is in the collection of Tenby Museum, Pembrokeshire and the gown is of a Pembrokeshire type. It and D5 were made for Miss Emily Warren Davies and her sister by their aunt, Christmas, 1889. The costume was said to be like that of the Llangwm women, Pembrokeshire, who gathered and sold shell food.

Fabric: Striped flannel or linsey-wolsey used for whole bedgown – Same fabric as used in Skirt D4.5, and D5.5 Striped flannel. Warp: red cotton; weft : black wool but made of up multi-coloured fibres – black, brown, red, pink, yellow, blue, green.


D23.4 bedgown front D23.4 bedgown back

The photographs were taken under different lighting conditions.

A short gown of red/brown flannel / linsey wolsey with short sleeves, comprising front-opening bodice, peplum, sleeves. The peplum is made in three pieces & pleated into the bodice, giving fullness at the back. The bodice has one back & two front pieces, is cut low at the front and off shoulder. Each sleeve is comprised of one piece of fabric, with decorative narrow silk band at lower edge attached. Bodice pinned down CF to doll, imitating buttons.Two black glass buttons also at back stitched onto peplum where it joins the bodice. Narrow picot ribbon decoration on sleeves.

Fabric: red/brown flannel / linsey wolsey. Warp: brown cotton; weft: red/brown wool.


North-west Wales type (more like a coat than a gown)


D6.4 Bedgown top

Open long (knee length) striped gown of red and black linsey-wolsey, made in one rectangular piece – slits cut for arm holes, and slightly shaped shoulder seams.  Long straight sleeves.  Separate collar section applied at back neck.  CFs both sides and lower edge turned by c. 0.5cm and hem stitched.  End of arm just turned under but not stitched.

Fabric: Linsey wolsey. Warp: blue and undyed linen fibres visible under microscope; weft: black and red wool.


D18 without apron front D18 without apron reverse D18.3 bedgown

The gown of plain weave mixed fibre linsey-wolsey with some yarns bundled together to create a checked pattern. Full length, almost as long as the skirt. The bodice part crosses left over right, there are no fastenings but it is tacked in place. The sleeves are made in two pieces with one short, shoulder section and a longer sleeve attached just above the elbow. The sleeves are full length and the cuffs are trimmed with a striped fabric. The upper parts of the sleeves are left raw because they cannot be seen but the lower part is turned at both ends. The skirt/tail and bodice are made in one piece, cut to shape under the arms and gathered with tacking stitches at the waist.

Fabric: Plain weave mixed fibre linsey-wolsey with some yarns bundled together to create a checked pattern. Warp: white cotton and brown linen; weft: white linen and black wool.


D25.4 bedgown  D25.4 bedgown back

Long gown with long sleeves. Red/blue/brown striped linsey-wolsey. Front & back cut from one piece fabric, folded sides to CF & stitched at shoulders. Hemmed CF and lower edge. Sleeves are one piece each, folded and seamed underarm. Back collar panel.

Fabric: Red/blue/brown striped linsey-wolsey. Warp: blue linen; weft: wool, repeat: 8 brown, 2 blue, 6 red, 2 blue


D26.4 bedgown front D26.4 bedgown back

Long gown with long sleeves of red/blue/green/white striped linsey-wolsey, weft stripe. Front & back cut from one piece of linsey-wolsey, folded sides to CF & stitched at shoulders. Sleeves are one piece each, folded and seamed underarm. Collar also folded & stitched to neck edge, which is gathered into collar. Hemmed CF and lower edge.

This is thought to be the doll presented to Princess Victoria in Llangollen in 1832.

Fabric: Red/blue/green/white striped linsey-wolsey, weft stripe, hanging vertically. Warp: blue linen; weft: wool, repeat: 2 red, 6 blue, 2 red, 6 green, 2 blue, 6 white, 2 blue, 6 green.


D32.4 bedgown

Short gown made from printed cotton. It has rounded shirt collar and ties tied into a large bow underneath chin. One back-panel and two front panels joined at the sides, both back and front extending into sleeves up to elbows, sleeves then completed with additional piece of fabric down to cuffs. The front panels are turned at the edges but have no form of fastening. Seam of lower sleeves is underneath rather than on top of arm, selvages at cuffs. Small triangular inserts on top of shoulders, collar and ties made from separate pieces of fabric. Edges turned and finished.

Long tail, but front obscured by shawls etc.


D13.4 bedgown tail

The gown is not a detachable garment but constructed on the doll in separate parts, comprised of two sleeves and a tail in one fabric; and a bodice part in a second fabric, concealed at the front under the neckerchief and apron but visible on the back. The gown does not extend around the front and therefore has no front opening. The sleeves are formed from tubes of fabric, the tail is pleated at the top edge into the bodice and shaped at the lower edge into a ‘bee’ shape. Sleeve seams are folded & top stitched; they are not attached to the bodice but stitched directly onto the doll. The tail has single-turn hems and is crudely stitched.

Fabric: Sleeves and tail in linsey-wolsey weft stripe, hanging vertically. Warp: blue linen; weft: red, blue, black wool. Frequent errors in the weave.


D15.4 bedgown

Red and navy blue houndstooth flannel, in a small scale. The gown is a long, open fronted style made from one piece of fabric with separate, full length sleeves. The corners at the hem are tacked to the back of the gown, the neckline is gathered into shape and the front of the bodice is sewn closed.

Fabric: Twill weave, houndstooth pattern created in red and blue wool flannel


D16.4 bedgown

Open gown in linsey-wolsey made in six pieces. The bodice is made in three, with two front crossing over and one centre back piece with seams at the shoulders and sides. The sleeves are full length and each made in 1 piece with the seam underneath the arm, joining the bodice at the shoulders.The back of the gown has a full length tail which is joined to the bodice at the waist and has turned edges at the sides and hem. There are loops at the hem through which a ribbon is threaded.

Fabric: Striped linsey-wolsey. warp: brown cotton; weft: red and khaki wool, with some cotton and an un-identified fibre. Medulla present in the red wool fibres, could be Shetland wool. The Khaki wool is blended with some cotton and kemp fibres


D17.4 bedgown

The gown is made in sections with the checked fabric used only on the visible parts. The skirt/tail  of the gown is the same length as the skirt beneath and is pleated up into a piece of black silk at the waist. The tail is gathered into four box pleats and the edges are turned in but left raw and the corners of the hem are turned in to create a rounded profile. The sleeves are separate and also attached to the black silk bodice. The cuffs are turned up.

Fabric: Mixed fibre loosely woven fabric with a plain woven base and checked design. Warp: brown and orange cotton; weft: brown cotton and purple wool


D33.3 bedgown

Gown of mixed fibre flannel with weft stripes – linsey-wolsey? It is made from 3 tapered panels, two front and one back, plus one panel for each elbow length sleeve, with seams under the arms. The CF is open with only a stitch across the chest. At the neck there is a small collar which is sewn closed. The corners of the front panels are turned back and sewn close to the seam on the gown. Turn-backs on ends of sleeves are finished by stitching black silk ribbon over the edges. The left sleeve is tucked in (arm is missing).

Fabric: Mixed fibre flannel with weft stripes – linsey-wolsey? Warp: blue cotton; Weft: Navy-wool, red-wool, white-cotton. The warp threads are not evenly spaced and there are some random double yarns. At the hem of the CB panel there is a selvedge where double yarns have also been used.



D34.2 bedgown D34.1 waistbandD34.2 bedgown b

Gown made of plain woven fabric with an equally spaced weft stripe and use of a slubby yarn in the weft, mostly the same material as the skirt but with stripes running horizontally. Made in four pieces consisting of a train, two sleeves and a strip of different fabric wrapped around the torso to which the other parts are attached.The train is gathered at the waist and tacked to the underside of the bodice strip. The hem has two pleats and the corners are turned in to create a rounded effect. The bodice consists of a wide strip of fabric with unfinished edges, which lies across the back of the waist and crosses upwards over the chest, left over right.The sleeves are seamed under the arm and the edge is turned under at the cuff but unfinished. The sleeve head is left raw and simply tacked to the bodice strip.

Fabric: Plain woven fabric with an equally spaced weft stripe and use of a slubby yarn in the weft. Warp: brown cotton; weft: wool, repeat – 6 yellow, 13 brown, 5 yellow, 13 brown.