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I’ve been planning and plotting a quilted petticoat for some time (since standing outdoors all day at Fort Lee in November, actually) and while the debate continues on the listserve, I know what was worn—and survived—in Rhode Island. There are quilted calamancoes and I think a black satin quilt that are run off with, either on the body or in the arms of the fleeing servant. So there were clearly wool and silk petticoats in the colony, and that fits with what I know lives in textile boxes in museum storage, where there are glazed wool domestic petticoats, blue silk satins from France, and a black silk satin with a murkier origin.

My favorites are really the woolen ones, scratchy as they are, and for some, it is replacement waists, or the linings, that are scratchy, and with multiple layers between wearer and wool, what would it have mattered? I love them best because they are in the color family that includes the “Providence Green” color that lies somewhere between gold/khaki and sinus infection, and I love them for their imagery.

The one I think I like best is this calamanco petticoat: 

The catalog decription says cream, but I don’t know, it really looks gold. The lining is definitely lighter in color, and the thread much clearer to see. What’s interesting as well is that many of the linings are pieced (it didn’t matter!) and they’re striped. 

I bought some of the last of the cinnamon “camblet” from Burney and Trowbridge last year, and did a fast quilting test on a sample.  I chose a squirrel because they’re in the wallpaper and the woodwork at work, and because they are hilarious. I keep thinking I’ve seen one in a quilted petticoat, but I can’t find it again. They are not the easiest objects to handle, either, so finding the rodent again has proved challenging. When I do quilt up squirrels and birds, it will be with a diaper background, not the vertical lines shown here. Overall, the silk-wool blend with wool batting and linen backing quilted up nicely, and should work out fairly well….I think…though it will be lighter than the ones in the boxes.

Now that I’ve got two days to spend down in Bristol, making a quilting frame and quilting up a petticoat (which would look like a quilt, and not a petticoat, on a frame, os could pass for a 1799 activity) seems like a winning proposition. All I have to do is find an appropriate pattern for a portable frame for Mr S to make. If I finish that shirt for him, he might look more favorably on that activity.