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Dress Fragment
about 1732
Hand-stitched embroidery; crewel wool on plain-woven linen
Primary Dimensions (height x width): 40 x 50 7/8in. (101.6 x 129.2cm) Primary Dimensions (width of left panel, selvedge to selvedge): 25 1/2in. (64.8cm) Primary Dimensions (width of right panel, selvedge to selvedge): 25 5/8in. (65.1cm)
Credit Line: Connecticut Historical Society collection
Gallery Copy: The crewel embroidery on these skirt panels represents a “do-it-yourself ” version of imported, fashionable, and expensive brocaded English silk. Two full-width pieces of linen are hand-stitched together vertically. The design is sophisticated, naturalistic and asymmetrical. The embroidery on each piece is entirely self-contained (not crossing any seams), arguing that the designs were worked after the pieces were cut but before they were made up into the dress. According to family history, these panels represent two-thirds of a wedding dress skirt. This was probably a group effort by sisters, cousins, or friends working together to complete this very special garment in time for the wedding day.
Description: Dress fragment consisting of two skirt panels hand-stitched with crewel, or two-ply worsted wool, on a plain-woven linen ground. The wool on the skirt panels displays many colors, including red; light and medium pink; light, medium and dark green; blue-green; yellow and white. Each dress panel embroidered with vertically-oriented meandering vines out of which emerge various leaves, flowers and fruit. A small bird is perched on one of the vines in the left panel. Each dress panel is rectangular, oriented vertically; they are hand-stitched together at the center of the dress fragment. The left and right edges of the dress fragment are a selvedge, while the top and bottom edges have a 3/16-inch double-turned hem. Stitches: The principal stitch is outline; also present are satin, encroaching satin, long and short, roumanian (oriental), buttonhole, darning, herringbone and cross stitch. Condition: The dress fragment is separated from the remainder of the dress to which it belongs. The ground has many small holes. The fragment is backed with a linen panel; darning stitches are applied around each hole in the ground to join the ground with the backing. Limited portions of the back of the ground are still accessible, especially along the bottom edge of the dress fragment. Sections of the crewel are replaced, specifically along the vines at the center of each dress panel. Portions of the crewel are embellished with a less finely embroidered loosely twisted crewel wool. The bottom edge of the fragment has a crease and remnants of some hem stitches at a previous 1 1/2-inch hem.
Historical Note: According to a note, now lost, that accompanied this item, it is a piece of the wedding dress of Mary Meyers. She spun and wove the cloth, then made and embroidered the dress herself. (Hudson 1/29/2007)
Inscription: The interior of the sheet used to back the dress fragment has the hand-written ink inscription of "[?] E. Ellingham".
Object Number: 1950.518.0
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