Betsy, Tacy and Tib wearing their dimity dresses to the Street Fair.Illustration by Lois Lenski© HarperPerennial ModernClassics

The Street Fair was full of wonders, but one surpassed all others, and that was the Flying Lady. Mrs. Mueller invited Betsy and Tacy to go with Tib to see the Flying Lady. It was fun to go to the Street Fair all together. They wore their best dimity dresses, trimmed with lace insertion, and their best summer hats with flowers and ribbons on them. Quote from Betsy, Tacy and Tib by Maud Hart Lovelace
Illustration by Lois Lenski
© HarperPerennial ModernClassics

What is a dimity dress? Dimity is defined as a light-weight, strong cotton wash fabric with woven stripes or squares.


Striped dimity

A dimity dress is merely a dress made of dimity fabric. The 1895 Sears & Roebuck and the Montgomery Ward catalogs give this description of dimity fabric: “Dimities are perhaps the most popular line of fancy white goods in demand this season. Their beautiful sheer textures and fine dainty patterns are a very strong recommendation to favor.”  The catalogs offered striped and checked dimity that sold for 10-35 cents per yard.

Dimity is a tough fabric, in that it does not yellow easily and can stand up to a lot of wear and tear. Traditionally, dimity was made completely of cotton fibers, although in recent years some synthetics have been mixed in with cotton to create one type.

This fabric was affordable, light-weight and strong for summer dresses for girls and women in the Betsy-Tacy era.