Hand-quilted cotton petticoat, late 18th century
Quilted petticoats were worn either with an open robe or with a jacket-type garment. These petticoats were practical for warmth; they also showcased the maker's sewing skills.
This beauty was purchased from a New England collection. According to oral provenance, the petticoat came from New Hampshire or Massachusetts.
Throughout the 18th century, the lively seagoing trade with England provided the colonists along the Eastern seacoast with readymade articles of fashion.
Quilted petticoats from professional quilters could be purchased. However, many women enjoyed making their own. The body of our petticoat is quilted with an eddying shell pattern.
The quilting is finely executed with 10-12 stitches per inch. Likely made at home, the petticoat was quilted by a lady who was justly proud of her skill.
The hem border features undulating feathers (top of picture) surrounded by diagonal rows. The border is outlined with rows of corded trapunto. In this very old technique, the design is outlined with two or more rows of running stitches and then padded from the underside, creating a raised effect.
This marvelous historical artifact recaptures a past inaccessible to the intellect but embedded in a particular antique garment.
The condition is very good. The bottom edge is slightly frayed; and there are several small brown stains. If exhibited with an open robe, the stains can be placed in back, where they will not show. I did not try to remove them because I do not like to bleach antique fabrics out of respect for design integrity.
It is 39" long from waist to hem and has a bottom circumference of 91".