1735-1740 Petticoat mantua dress with train by ? (Victoria & Albert Museum - London, UK)

From the museum’s Web site; all images converted to 30 cm high at 28.35 pixels/cm.

1735-1740 Petticoat mantua dress with train by ? (Victoria & Albert Museum - London, UK) From the museum's Web site

I have wondered what the little wedge-shaped peplum-like waistline extensions on some dresses were. This set of images may explain their function. The left photo of the bottom row shows how much train was folded behind the bodice. The museum’s Materials and Techniques notes state, "Brocaded silk, hand-sewn with spun silk and spun threads, lined with linen, brown paper lining for cuffs, brass, canvas and pleated silk."

According to the Victoria & Albert Museum’s summary notes state, "The draped skirts of this magnificent 1730s mantua cleverly conceal its complex construction. One of the mantua’s characteristics was a long train, which was sewn as a flat piece of silk and arranged with each wearing. The train was folded up, then folded in and draped over a loop of thread on either side of the waist. In order that the finished side of the silk always show when the mantua was worn, the train was constructed with panels of the right and wrong sides of the fabric sewn together. Pinning up and draping a train successfully was an art and required the help of maids to achieve the perfect effect."

The mantua was worn over a matching petticoat and the resulting ensemble constituted formal daywear in the 1730s. Also typical for this period is the silk, intricately brocaded in a flowing pattern of large, realistically rendered flowers and leaves."

Their more information notes state, "Mantua and petticoat of white ground brocaded silk with a 24 inch repeating pattern of trees on an island, and embellished with large pink and darker pink fantastic flowers with a Chinoiserie flush pattern of a group of buildings behind the trees. Hand sewn with 2 ply 'S' spun silk and 2 ply 'S' spun threads.  [Mantua] Front-opening mantua with double pleat robings and very short sleeves with pleated cuffs. The back has four tapering pleats, a long train, and side skirts for draping over the hips. The back is one panel of silk pleated at the bodice and extending into the train. Below the waist, it has been cut off and reversed to allow the right side of the fabric to show when pinned up. The side skirts have been similarly reversed. Brown paper has been used to stiffen the sleeve cuffs. 19th century waistband is fastened with a buckle and imprinted with 'F Venn Horsham'. Brass button and loops attached at the back of the hips.  [Petticoat] Petticoat fastens with ties at the back and is intended to be worn over round hoops. Six panels of silk sewn selvedge to selvedge and arranged in box pleats from centre front to back. The seams at the sides have been left open as pocket slits. The hem is bound with 5/8 inches of silk tape.”

Keywords:  British, bodice, elbow length full sleeves, over-skirt, train, 

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