Light blue-green silk, loom-woven quilted petticoat in a diaper pattern, which was worn with gown (HD F.495). According to family tradition, this petticoat was worn by Hannah Hopkins (1731-1766) of Springfield, Massachusetts, for her marriage to John Worthington (1719-1800), a lawyer from Springfield, in 1759; by their daughter, Hannah Worthington (1761-1833) who married Thomas Dwight (1758-1819) of Springfield in 1791; by their daughter, Elizabeth ("Betsy") Dwight (1801-1855) who married Charles Howard (1794-1875) in 1824 (Betsy and Charles were married in the Dwight House built in 1754 in Springfield and moved to Deerfield in the early 1950s to save it from demolition). The 1740s witnessed the development of a weaving technique that imitated hand quilting and competed with so-called Marseilles quilting (or "French" quilting), a term used today to describe the cotton quilting that was done in the Provence area of southern France in the late 17th and 18th centuries, which was distinctive for its fine cording and stuffed designs. During the mid-18th century, weavers in London feared competition from the French port town of Marseilles, which produced large quantities of quilted textiles for export. The English addressed the problem by developing faster and cheaper ways to quilt textiles on the loom, often made out of linen. While not true quilting (no middle layer of batting or wadding exists), loom-woven textiles such as this petticoat approximated the look and warmth of quilted textiles, at a cheaper price..Hand-stitched Marseilles quilting (either from France or England) was sold commonly as finished garments such as men's waistcoats, layette sets, or yard goods. "Quilted in the loom" petticoats began to be adverstised in London newspapers in 1770, and soon became popular exports to America. Although the family history associated with this petticoat is possible, it is unlikely since loom-quilted cotton fabric did not become common until the later 1760s, and silk possibly later. This may be one of the ealiest surviving examples of a loom-quilted garment in America, possibly first worn by Hannah Worthington Dwight in 1791. Two other similar silk petticoats of this same pattern are preserved at the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum in Wethersfield, Connecticut, and at the Museum of City of New York. The coincidence of the three surviving examples suggests the later 1791 date rather than earlier 1759 date. According to Linda Eaton, Director of Collections and Senior Curator of Textiles at Winterthur Museum (May 14, 2011), the 1770-1800 date is also consistent with the color (neoclassical pastel), design motif (light feeling), and availablility of loom-quilted items in America. She also noted that the weave structure is such that there are three layers but that the middle does not really get woven, thus producing the quilted/puffy effect of loom quilting; there is really no batting. The top 4"-6" of petticoat is a blue green silk satin that is unquilted and gathered into a silk grosgrain tied waistband; the quilted design around bottom band is a repeat of potted flowers and leaf sprays. The petticoat is lined at the top and bottom only cream-colored plain weave wool (tammy). As early as the 1720s, quilted petticoats were an important component of many women's wardrobes. In addition to providing added warmth, the materials and quilting patterns they displayed served as decorative embellishment to the wearer's apparel. During the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the bulkiness of these kinds of petticoats fell out of favor as dress styles became streamlined.
Handed down with Hopkins’ patterned silk gown is this rare loom-quilted petticoat. Loom quilting was a faster and cheaper way to quilt textiles, developed by English weavers during the middle of the 18th century to compete with sought-after French corded and stuffed textiles like those from the port town of Marseilles. The production and export of loom-quilted textiles was probably too late to coincide with Hopkins’ 1759 wedding, but it may have been worn by her daughter, Hannah (1761-1833), in the 1770s.