A Perfect New England Pairing: Printed Gown and Quilted Petticoat, 1760s+
Exhibit highlights "From the Elegant to the Everyday: 200 Years of Fashion in Northern New England" at the Saco Museum
Gown, 1770-1790 probably Portsmouth, NH printed cotton, linen Warner House Association, Gift of Charles Sherburne Penhallow
When this gown was made, printed cotton fabric was considered a luxury and was highly fashionable-only a fine silk would have been more costly and desirable. The printed design was achieved using a separate wooden block engraved with the pattern for each color. During the 18th century, there was no workable solid green dye-the only way to make green was to print blue on top of yellow. If you look closely, you can see where the two colors did not line up exactly in the printing process, and a bit of the blue or yellow is visible along the edges of some of the motifs. The original petticoat for this gown may have been either of the same printed fabric, or of a contrasting solid color like this quilted example. Quilted petticoat, 1760-1800 England or New England silk quilted to a worsted backing, woolen batting, linen waistband Warner House Association Quilted petticoats were available ready-made in the 18th century, although women did make their own at home as well. The product of professional quilting shops in England, many local milliners would have stocked them for their clientele. The silk exterior made them fashionable garments, but the wool batting and backing made them warm, which was particularly appealing during cold New England winters. They first became stylish in England in the mid-18th century, but women in chilly climates continued to wear them into the early 19th century. This petticoat is quilted in a pattern of a meandering floral vine.
Guest Blogger, Tara Vose Raiselis Museum Director & Exhibit Curator Dyer Library/Saco Museum