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The design of this textile is done through a complicated lampas technique. The face of the fragment alternated between corduroy (the red stripes), and a white stripe bearing a floral motif--perhaps imitating ribbon. The white stripes are edged in 1/16 inch of sky blue with a vine motif of light and dark green and blue-petaled flowers with a purple center and a yellow highlight. The white stripe is 9/16 inch wide (11/16 including the blue edging), and red stripe is 11/16 inch wide. The floral motif shows a straight repeat of 1 1/4 inches. The corduroy sits over a plain weave structure and is created using supplementary warp floats. Only one weft ties down the supplementary warps, creating the thin stripe of the 7/1 corduroy. Combined with the lampas technique, this tells us that the weaver used 3 sets of warps (the maximum), and seven sets of wefts.

The fragment goes from the top of the skirt where it connected to the bodice to the hem, totaling 40 inches. That measurement corresponds with Martha Washington's diminutive height. Both the bottom edge and the ride edge are held in tape hems, using linen tape as a backing. The linen tape is constructed with an unbalance plain weave with one thick 2-plyS warps to every two thin warps. The hem is secured with running stitches in a red thread.

The top section of the fragment goes from selvedge to selvedge, showing a total fabric width of 19 inches.

The top edge is pleated with knife pleats that vary in width depending on their placement. The first pleat from the hemmed edge (which would have been the front opening of the skirt) is 1 inch deep with a 1/4 inch overlap. The next three pleats are 3/4 inch deep with 1/4 inch overlap (the same as the knife pleats in W-1119). The rest are 1/2 inch deep with 1/4 inch overlap. The last pleat (furthest from the hemmed edge) is pressed under and basted with running stitches with a 2-ply S thread to finish the edge for the pocket opening. Though the pleats are no longer stitched, pieces of the thread remain. The same thread is seen in W-1119. Evidence of the seam that connected the skirt to the bodice can be seen along the pleats. With the pleats secured, the upper edge of the fragment would measure 8 3/8 inches across.

Date

1770-1799


Material/Technique

Silk lampas


Dimensions

Overall (H x W): 40 in. x 19 in. (101.6 cm x 48.26 cm)


Credit

Gift of Mrs. M. Lee Shaffer, Jr. and Charles Conrad Krumbhaar, Jr., 1955


Object Number

W-639/A


Colors


Mount Vernon's object research is ongoing and information about this object is subject to change. For information on image use and reproductions, click here.
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