Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Return of Mrs. Peabody

My Dear Friends and Correspondents,

It is wonderful to return home to Massachusetts after my absence over the sea.  While the voyage is always a trial, the metropolis of London has much to offer to improve one's knowledge and expand the mind.

It is so nice to read the posts of Mrs. S. so illuminating and Miss K. who is full of good questions.  I am happy to report on several items of interest to us all.

First I have found no general difference in the methods used by us here in Concord to those in England of making gowns and other items.  If one were to place a garment made in Boston next to one made in London or Leeds, you would be hard pressed to choose which was which.

In dressmaking the usual conventions were seen; shoulder straps, white linen linings, cuffs and sleeve flounces similar in all respects.  Hems and seams the same, all methods known and used by us here, were also used in the height of fashion there!

One of the highlights of my journey was an examination of this gown.

Leeds Costume Collection

This gown is in reality a deep shade of raspberry and not the scarlet shown in the image.  A rare example of a highly decorated damask gown. In almost all instances, damasks are usually undress gowns and as such not lavished with passementerie.  There is a damask gown at the MFA (and one at the MET) that does have some trim as well, but by and large they are not often found with this extent of trimming.   There is no doubt in my mind that not only was the trim purchased at the same time as the gown but was also dyed to match the fabric, probably by the same silk dyer.  The color of the trim is exactly the same as the gown, not a bit of a shade off color -exact- and the abundance of such is lavish to a degree of lavishness not to be believed. This gown was made to be worn over hoops, thus displaying the gown to full advantage.

So that brings Mrs. P to her own personal goal setting for the upcoming winter, I am determined to divine in detail many of the trims made with silk.  Simple flies are not a challenge, but the other elements that are usually so combined with them really will be more complex to duplicate.   One has to have goals to endure the long, and cold winter ahead.

The first and most important hurdle will be to find the right fabric, since the trim is always secondary to the fabric.  Oh, wait.  I may have some in storage.  Will have to check my trunks for a suitable length as I have laid aside many for future use.

Mrs. Peabody


  1. I can see hints of the raspberry in the photo you posted, but I still sort of wish it was a scarlet!

    It is a sacque, correct? How lovely to be able to examine such a beautiful extant.

  2. Miss Kristen,
    It looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, but it is not a duck. It is an ordinary English Gown, made in an extraordinary manner.