C18th Quilted Bedgown, Up Close & Personal

Okay, so because I got crazy excited looking at these photos I figured I might as well write a post about it before I lost my mind thread.

What happened was, it was 1am and I was merrily cutting out fabric masks for the web shop while listening to the latest Burnley and Trowbridge livestream about their C18th bedgown sewalong. I love a good informative 'chat' with friends! And that's what these livestreams are to me. Then someone asked if Angela knew of any extant quilted bedgowns and a light switched on in my head. When Angela replied that she thought she did, but couldn't put her finger on it, I thought, 'Well, I definitely know where there are a couple - and I have photos of them!' So I paused the video, and the cutting, and hopped on the computer. A few minutes later Angela and I were poring over photos of extant bedgowns from the Fashion Museum Bath, that I viewed in the study rooms last year.

Eighteenth century quilted silk bedgown from the Fashion Museum Bath collection. BATMC 97.18 (loan)
This little puppy is BATMC 97.18 (loan), undress jacket, 1700-1750, quilted silk. It is a gorgeous example of a bedgown that I personally would love to wear. It shows us a lot about construction, including piecing and mending.
The bedgown was cut from approx. 42cm (16 1/4”) wide silk fabric, with a centre back seam on both the lining and the outer layers. The sleeves are pieced to make them longer, and the side seams have triangular gores added to give width to the hem. The outer and lining fabrics are the same. I believe the fronts and backs are cut without a shoulder seam but I didn't photograph that and don't remember. That's how bedgowns are normally cut though. I don't think there's a wadding of any kind between the outer and lining layers; the garment didn't feel thick enough for that.
C18th quilted bedgown, showing centre back lining seam. BATMC 97.18 (loan)
The piecing and centre back seams are stitched first with a running stitch (about 6 stitches per inch) and it looks like the lining seam is laid to one side (possible selvedge visible in the gaps, too), then the front and hem edges are turned in and probably basted together. Then the quilting is done on the flat, with a running stitch around the front and hem edges as part of the design. The stitches are around 1/16", so approximately 11 stitches per inch.
The collar is constructed in the same way, but separately, leaving the shoulder/neck edge open for attachment to the main body.
The quilting stops where the seam allowance will sit once it is turned inside. By my estimate the seam allowances are 3/16" (based on the quilted squares measuring 5/16" along each side).
Funny thing - there are a couple of knots on the surface in the quilting thread, and even a thread loop, where the maker may have experienced an annoying knot in their thread and had to leave it showing. 
C18th quilted bedgown, showing collar band. BATMC 97.18 (loan)
The collar is sewn to the main garment along the outer seams first, then the inner/lining fabric is folded in and felled over the raw edges.
The white tape in the picture is the museum's reference label.
C18th quilted bedgown, showing cuff construction. BATMC 97.18 (loan)
The cuffs are stitched on in the same way as the collar: made and quilted separately and then seamed and felled on, with the felling on the right side of the garment so that it's hidden when the cuff is turned back.
Sorry the photo is a bit blurry!
C18th quilted bedgown, showing cuff. BATMC 97.18 (loan)
The sleeve hem is shaped to be longer at the outer elbow and shorter at the inner elbow. The cuff is shaped accordingly. This can be seen by following the quilted grid pattern.
C18th quilted bedgown, showing inner elbow view of cuff. BATMC 97.18 (loan)

The cuff is seamed at it's narrowest point, on the front of the elbow.

C18th quilted bedgown, showing mending. BATMC 97.18 (loan)
Have you spotted the mending yet? It is so neatly done! I would not have thought to do it this way, and I think it shows just how beloved this garment was to it's owner. The patch has been cut to fit exactly into the quilting design - inside and out - and then the quilting is replaced over top. Such attention to detail! Such love!
There must've been a big rip. Maybe it got caught on something. 
Or... it could be a later conservation mend, though there are no notes to that effect. What do you think?
This image shows the lining inside the right front. The first picture in this post shows the mend from the right side of the garment.
Do I have a draft of it? And measurements?  And maybe even a sketch of the quilting design?
Yes!
I just have to finish  the cuff part, so I'll put it in my next blog post :)

Write a comment

Comments: 0