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Woman's gown, altered

1760-1770 (textile); remade late 19th century
Origin: England, Spitalfields (probably)
Waist 23" OL: 55" Textile 19" selvage width.; Repeat: 12" (vertical)
Silk woven with supplementary warp patterning; trimmed with later gimp; lined with tabby linen.
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 1954-1009,1
Woman's gown of plum color ribbed silk patterned with silver gray in design of curving burr-like vines enclosing flower clusters. Gown has low rounded neckline and fitted bodice shaped with darts. Center front edge-to-edge closure with modern hooks and eyes, extending down to point below waistline. Sleeves are cut full with gathers at top of arm, ending in applied gimp edging. Skirt is pleated to bodice with 3/8" pleats, open and untrimmed in front, with pocket slit on right side corresponding to single pocket sewn into petticoat (#2). Back bodice fitted and pieced, coming to deep point at center back waist. Bodice and sleeves lined with tabby linen.
Label:This gown is made of 1760s silk, but is considerably pieced and altered. Old marks suggest that the bodice fronts once were folded on either side of a stomacher. Judging from faint pleat marks, the gown's back was once a sack. The first alteration must have occurred in the 1780s, when the sack back was converted into a fitted style with a deep point at the waist, a feature especially characteristic of the 1780s. Sometime around 1900, bodice darts were added and the sleeves modified. About that time, contrasting trim matching the petticoat fabric was sewn around the neckline, down the front on either side of the open skirt, and on the sleeves; that trim was later removed. The square shoulders and shape of the gathered sleeves are especially characteristic of women's clothing at the end of the nineteenth century.
The separate petticoat (#2), seen under the outer gown, is an entirely different eighteenth-century patterned silk, woven in colors that complement the gown, but not worn with it until the nineteenth century. Folds in the fabric of the petticoat indicate that it was cut from a sack-back gown. The petticoat's flounces are trimmed with self-fabric edgings made from cut strips of textile, turned so the reverse of the pattern is uppermost.