From Bed to Body
You would think after my experience with two quilted petticotes that I would have run screaming from this specimen. But instead it intrigued me all the more. I first saw it described in Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion while looking for corroborating evidence for my taffeta gown and petticote. Then I ran into it again in Bradfield and oggled over the two pages it takes up. By the time I noticed it was in my well-worn copy of Ashelford's Art in Dress, I'd had quite enough. I finally took the hint. And again, Tavern Nights at the Bachman provided me with a perfect reason to have such a garment.
Unlike the other quilted petticotes we looked at elsewhere on the site, this one isn't stuffed with layers of batting. It is made from white satin, backed with white silk, with a layer fine wool in between (the jacket is the same, but lined with white linen). This lighter weight would make it more comfortable to wear indoors. This, however, is not the opinion of one Henry Purefoy who returned a a quilted petticote to its maker, Mr. Eagles ye Carrier in Buckinghamshire, England in 1739. Reportedly it was too heavy for his mother to wear. We unfortunately have no details as to the construction of that petticote.
It is thought that the jacket was made from another petticote. The quilting on the back of the jacket is not symmetrical and care was usually taken in these items to make it match. Arnold believes that the linen lining of the jacket was made up first, and then eight ¼" bones inserted were inserted into their casings in this lining. Then the quilted jacket was constructed and mounted onto this lining. The false front (or compère) was made in linen, boned at the front edges, and covered in quilted material. Metal hooks and eyes were attached to close the garment center front. The compère is sewn to the inside of the jacket.
The shape of the back of the jacket is not unlike the wool and linen jackets I wear for militia impressions (based on 26C by in Arnold). Arnold originally dated the outfit to 1745-55, but she admits that some of the elements place it in the late 1770s.
- Janet Arnold. Patterns of Fashion 1: Englishwomen's dresses & their construction c 1660-1860. 1977: Macmillan Publishers Ltd., London.
- Jane Ashelford. The Art of Dress: Clothes and Society, 1500-1914. 1996: National Trust Enterprises Limited, London.
- Linda Baumgarten and John Watson with Florine Carr. Costume Close Up: Clothing Construction and Pattern, 1750-1790. 1999: The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Williamsburg, VA.
- Nancy Bradfield. Costume in Detail 1730-1930. 1997: Costume and Fashion Press, New York.
- Tandy and Charles Hersh. Cloth and Costume 1750-1800. 1995: Cumberland County Historical Society, Camp Hill, PA.
© 2002, 2003 Kass McGann. All Rights Reserved. The Author of this work retains full copyright for this material. Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of this document for non-commercial private research or educational purposes provided the copyright notice and this permission notice are preserved on all copies.