Child's dress

Object name


Date made

Early 20th century

Place made


Early 20th-century child's smocked dress of natural linen with extensive stitching, including a spiral pattern on the front and collar. Also stitched and smocked on the sleeve and cuff.

Content description

Child's smocked dress in unbleached linen, possibly hand woven. It features extensive smocking and stitching across the chest, back, collar, and cuffs, worked in tan-coloured cotton threads. On the front and back are a series of swirling patterns, perhaps reminiscent of hay bales. The smocking and stitching is worked in back, cable, and feather stitches. The smocking on the front and back is nearly identical, as is that on the two cuffs.

On the back of the collar is a handwritten note which reads, 'Bucks D 3 gns 4-5 ys', with 'Bucks' referring to Buckinghamshire and 'ys' referring to years, suggesting this would have been worn by a child of four or five years old. On the left cuff is a second, later handwritten note which reads, 'Buck smock Aiflevin [?] S 1431 Not for sale'. It is unclear what the third word says. S 1431 may be a sort of inventory number.

This smock and several others came to the Royal School of Needlework via the Quilters' Guild. The objects came with a provenance of having been made by a member of the Fine Needlework Association in Beauchamp Place, London, which was founded in the early 20th century by Jean Bruce. Its aim was to provide work for invalid women and girls, as well as those who could not go out to work. They made trousseaux, smocks, layettes, and frocks. The Association closed in 1963 but this smock is likely an example from the first years of the organisation. This organisation was part of a larger late 19th- and early 20th-century philanthropic craft revival movement. This movement sought to reestablish traditional craft practices in order to fight poverty, rural isolation, and industrial innovation that could result in the loss of traditional handicrafts.


width: 93cm
height: 66cm




Credit line

Gift of the Quilters' Guild, 2023.

Catalogue number


Other numbers

RSN 2690
© Royal School of Needlework