18th Century Women’s Quilted Petticoats

First, a bit of poetry; from The Fable of Ixion, To Chlorinda:

This cloud which came to her ſtark naked,
She dreſs’d as fine as hands cou’d make it.
From her own wardrobe out ſhe brought
Whate’er was dainty, wove or wrought.
A ſmock which Pallas ſpun and gave her
Once on a time to gain her favour;
A gown that ha’n’t on earth its fellow,
Of fineſt blue and lin’d with yellow,
Fit for a Goddeſs to appear in,
And not a pin the worſe for wearing.
A quilted petticoat beſide,
With whalebone hoop ſix fathom wide.
With theſe ſhe deck’d the cloud d’ye ſee?
As like herſelf, as like cou’d be:
So like, that cou’d not I or you know
Which was the cloud, and which was Juno.


And on to the links. Unless otherwise noted, these petticoats are silk with wool lining, generally with a wool batting. (See also the embroidered petticoats.)

  • LACMA M.88.122.1, America; linsey woolsey and wool
  • Met 52.559, silk satin, glazed worsted, and plain silk weave ribbon, New England, 18th century
  • Manc 1922.1834, England, c. 1670-1700; “White linen petticoat, corded and quilted; probably 2 panels from 3. Embroidered in very white linen in a stylised design, late bizarre, but including snails, dragonflies and sprigs; mostly back stitched with padding, and surface knotting.”
  • Met X.279, silk, 18th century
  • Met 11.60.219, silk and linen, American, 18th century
  • Met C.I. 37.25.2, silk, American, 18th century
  • Met C.I.37.35, probably French, 18th century
  • Met C.I.46.82.3, 18th century
  • Met C.I.57.45.2, probably French, 18th century
  • Met C.I.58.22, 18th century
  • Met C.I.60.26.6, probably French, 18th century
  • Met 2005.187.1, cotton, silk, and cellulose, American, 18th century
  • Met 2005.187.2, silk, linen, and cellulose, American, 18th century
  • MRAH (IRPA 20049477), 18th century
  • Augusta 8.4834.420.120, 18th century
  • LACMA M.59.27.1, quilted and embroidered, Italy, c. 1725-1760
  • LACMA M.67.8.73a-b, England, c. 1730
  • HD 2000.72.3, English fabric with American quilting, c. 1730-1740; “Quilted petticoat of yellow (now faded) silk taffeta lined with a medium blue, glazed plain weave worsted wool (tammy) ... The petticoat is quilted using yellow silk thread, using an English-style running stitch to create the dense, overall design. The quilting stitches average about 9-12 stitches per inch (spi), as do the seam stitches. The petticoat opens with a center back placket, 9 ¾" long (ripped an additional 1 ½"). At the top, the garment is pleated (all pleats are ½" apart, 1/8" deep, and open up towards center back), into a matching blue wool braided waistband, with the center back 3" left unpleated. The top 5-6" of the petticoat is unquilted, and ends with the fabric folded over and stitched, giving the appearance of a horizontal seam. Below this stitching, the petticoat is gathered on either side, for about 19" (the front 12½" and the back 16" back 16" are left unpleated). The hem is edged in a matching gold silk braid, badly deteriorated. The inside wool layer is seamed using matching blue linen thread. The selvage of the silk contains blue threads (7-8) and a single, thicker red thread. There is wool batting (natural color) between the two layers. The petticoat has been lengthened, evidenced by stitch holes about 1" up from the gathering of petticoat. "Crumbs" of cotton thread indicate later (modern) alterations of an unidentified kind. A repair was attempted using cotton thread to fix a tear at the top, proper left side.”
  • V&A T.427-1966, silk lined with wool, Britain, c. 1730-1770; “Quilted petticoat of yellow silk. Quilted in a diamond pattern and lined with two woollen materials. The large piece has a small check design woven in yellow, green and white. The weaving is in open tabby and the width of warp and weft threads is variable. The selvedge of this green and yellow check worsted is indicated by three warp threads. The width of this material is approximately 24 inches. The other piece of lining, of green wool, is much more closely woven in twill. The quilted skirt hangs from an uneven strip of deep yellow plain-woven wool which is bound to the waist with tape. The hem is bound with yellow silk. The top is pleated away from a box-pleat in the centre-front, and towards an inverted pleat at the centre back. There is an opening, bound with yellow silk, at one side, fastening with a black metal hook and eye at the top, and on the opposite side is a slit for a pocket also bound with yellow silk.”
  • CW 2006-43, England, c. 1735-1740
  • V&A T.306-1982, Britain, c. 1740-1750; “Quilted petticoat in green shot silk, lined with wool and hand-sewn. With an all over running stitch diamond quilted pattern. Mounted on a hip yoke of darker green woollen cloth made longer at the back than the front. Lined with undying woollen cloth having a blue selvedge. It does not seem to be padded or interlined. The pocket slits and hem are bound in darker green silk ribbon braid. The petticoat fastens at the side hips where the white waist band extends into ties.”
  • Manc 2008.22, England, c. 1740-1760; “white linen, quilted in bands of inverted Vs to within 10cms of waistband and to 36cms from hem; lower part (36cm in width) diamond pane quilted with 5 bands of applied trailing floral embroidery in red and green with a scalloped green edge; waist edged in white linen with ties and side pocket openings; pockets and hem edged with green calamanco; fully lined (apart from one panel) in vertically striped blue and white fustian (with piecing). Embroidered bands applied before construction (ready made petticoat) as they run behind seams.”
  • Met 2009.300.2974 silk and embroidered cotton, Sweden, c. 1740-1760
  • CW 1996-291, England, c. 1740-1760
  • Winterthur 1969.1110, silk and wool, United States, c. 1740-1760
  • Winterthur 1969.5327, silk and wool, United States, c. 1740-1760
  • Fries Museum T1957-416, c. 1740-1770
  • eBay 181190988440, c. 1740-1780
  • CHS 1987.211.1, cream-colored silk, c. 1740-1780
  • Manc 1951.281, Britain, 1742-1743
  • CW 1971-1554, England, c. 1745-1760
  • PMA 1933-47-1, England or America, c. 1749
  • Meg Andrews 7075, “palest shell pink satin quilted in a small diamond design, below a band of cream wool pleated into a shell pink linen tape waistband”
  • CW 1952-19, Connecticut, 1750
  • HD F.122, English fabrics quilted in America, c. 1750; “Quilted petticoat made of quilted, yellow, plain weave silk (taffeta) worked in an all-over quilted design with the top pleated into a waistband (possibly replaced); the top half with a diamond or trellis pattern; and the lower half made up of parellel lines closely spaced together interspersed with foliate designs and several figures and creatures, including Cupid (possibly made for a marriage), a crowned lion, and a sea serpent. The initials "MC" are worked into the trunk of a tree along the border. The petticoat is lined with green, plain weave wool ... The fineness of the stitching that creates the quilting pattern (a kind of backstitch) allows the quilter to intricately depict the designs of stags, rabbits, birds, and other creatures both real and imagined, which cavort around the border of this petticoat.”
  • V&A T.193-1929, Britain, c. 1750; “Pale blue satin quilted with silk, with symmetrical border of a row of flowering plants, with wavy diagonal stripes above. Woollen lining and silk tying ribbons included.”
  • V&A T.1-1931, England, c. 1750; “Ivory-coloured satin, quilted with silk. The lower part has a repeating row of two flowering plants and festoons, with a bottom border of wavy leafy stems and spirals. Above are large imbrications. There is a woollen lining (calimanco?).”
  • PMA 1900-49, Philadelphia, mid-18th century
  • MFA 59.454, Massachusetts, mid-18th century; “quilted silk satin with linen plain weave lining quilted with silk thread; cotton drawstring, cotton plain weave waist band”
  • Met 11.60.220, mid-18th century
  • Met 1971.47.2, silk, British, mid-18th century
  • Met 1977.91.5, silk and linen, America, mid-18th century
  • Met 1977.197.2, silk, British, mid-18th century
  • Manc 1972.111, c. 1750-1770; “Leaf green silk satin quilted over padding onto cream twilled linen lining. Top quilted in wavy lines, hem in deep band of scrolls and foliage. Linen waistband. Vent in right side 26.5cm, bound in green silk. Similar vent at left, open at top and fastened by strings continuous with waistband.”
  • MFA 42.512, part of a quilted petticoat, quilted silk with stuffed work and silk backing, cotton batting, and wool tape
  • MFA 43.178a, America (probably Brookline, Massachusetts)
  • MFA 42.464, America
  • MFA 22.667, America
  • MFA 44.344, probably America; “quilted silk, worsted twill lining, glazed cotton header, linen tape waistband, silk plain weave hem binding tape, cotton batting”
  • CW 1994-88, Connecticut River Valley, 1755
  • 18th century quilted silk petticoat, England
  • V&A T.155-1930, England, c. 1750-1774; “Pink satin, quilted with silk. Round the bottom is a repeating and continuous leafy stem pattern with star-like flowers. The space above is covered with a scale pattern. There is a broad band of pink cotton sewn to the top, and a woollen canvas lining.”
  • CW 1952-681, cord-quilted cotton with linen backing, England, c. 1750-1775
  • CW 2009-43,1, Philadelphia, c. 1750-1775
  • Met 1981.12.5, British, cotton and linen, c. 1750-1775
  • Met C.I.46.82.1, French, silk, 3rd quarter of the 18th century
  • CW 2009-43,2, quilted petticoat fragment, Philadelphia, c. 1750-1780
  • CHS 1973.93.4, salmon pink silk with cream-colored glazed wool backing and wool batting, c. 1750-1780
  • CHS 1975.10.1, pale aqua silk lined with cream-colored glazed worsted wool with stylized design of geometric flowers over swags, wool batting, c. 1750-1780
  • Met 1979.346.117, silk, c. 1750-1799
  • Met 36.64.2, America, second half of the 18th century
  • CW 1974-658, Philadelphia, 1755-1770
  • CHS 1959.54.2, 1758; “Red satin-woven worsted petticoat, quilted in cream-colored and golden brown silk threads with various designs extending ten inches above the hem; above this, the quilted pattern is a trellis-like design, stitched in groups of three lines. Above the scallops, the body of the petticoat is quilted in a diamond pattern, with triple rows of stitching creating the diamonds. The quilting ends four inches below the waistband, and there is no wadding in this area. The decorative band around the hem includes figures of a mermaid, lion, a griffin or leopard, a fish, 2 stags, 3 rabbits, 3 different birds,and a dog(?). The lion has the initials "SH" stitched on his rump; the griffin or leopard has the date "1758" stitched on his body. The mermaid holds a comb and a mirror. The figures are interspersed between nine plant slips, each with three branches bearing different, oversize flowers. These designs are surrounded by closely-worked parallel diagonal lines. The stitching is a variant of the back stitch, worked extremely finely. The petticoat is interlined with undyed wool wadding and backed by an undyed, plain-woven wool, possibly homespun. The hem is finished in a knife edge. The petticoat is gathered onto a replaced waistband of red cotton fabric (the original, perhaps on a drawstring, may be underneath the newer material). There is an eleven-inch opening along one seam, but there is no evidence that the petticoat ever had pocket slits. The backing fabric is pieced in one place, raw edge to raw edge, down the length of the petticoat; this appears to be original, as the quilting continues uninterrupted over it. The face fabric is seamed along this same line. The backing fabric is properly seamed near this odd piecing--perhaps the maker miscalculated the required width of the backing(?).”
  • CW 1952-594, quilted petticoat fragment, England, c. 1760-1775
  • Meg Andrews 6935, c. 1760-1775
  • V&A T.264A-1966, England, c. 1760-1780
  • Meg Andrews 6477, “a quilted petticoat of palest shell pink silk with large scallop shapes to the main area 4 1/2 in; 12 cm wide, the hem area with a leafy meander above diamond filled pyramids”
  • Quilted petticoat, quilted silk, lined with calamanco, England, mid-late 18th century
  • Augusta 20.9725.137.306, c. 1770-1790; “Baby blue silk satin, draw-string waist, cream calamanco lining, quilted in patterns of tulips at hem w/ larger pattern of 5 petal flowers, stylized leaves & fronds w/in scallops above, from waist to knee sparse pattern of serpentine vines w/ small flowers, W 26"-50", L 38"”
  • HD F.495A, c. 1770-1800; “Light-green silk, loom-woven quilted petticoat in a diaper pattern, which was worn with HD F.495.
  • Met 2009.300.658, silk, American, 4th quarter of the 18th century
  • Met 2009.300.6299, silk and cotton, American, 4th quarter of the 18th century
  • Met 2009.300.7707, silk and cotton, American, 4th quarter of the 18th century
  • Vintage Textile 1857, cotton, late 18th century
  • Christie’s Lot 260 / Sale 6072, a French provincial quilted petticoat panel, possibly late 18th century
  • Augusta 26.11930.33.157, late 18th century; “Khaki China silk, butternut squash dyed wool backing & wool batting, hand quilted in patterns of undulating fern/foliage decorated w/ hearts, lilies, tulips, starfish, twirling suns, etc., all against diagonal ground, W 31", L 36"”
  • Köln 1961/81, c. 1780
  • SPNEA 1964.55A, c. 1780-1810
  • Met 26.238.23, cotton, French, c. 1783-1789
  • MFA 43.1619b, France, c. 1785; “Block printed cotton in polychrome on white with Indian style floral motifs. … Quilted petticoat: fullness cartridge pleated into tan linen tape waistband; linen suspender tapes; narrow horizontal quilting at base.”
  • Met 2009.300.894 silk and cotton, France, 1795
  • LiveAuctioneers 5985188, late 18th-early 19th century
  • OSV 26.107.6; originally a quilted petticoat with a callimanco top and striped wool backing, this was converted into a bed-quilt c. 1800-1825

Depictions of women wearing quilted petticoats

Descriptions in runaway advertisements

  • “a black quilted Petticoat, lin’d with an ash colour'd Stuff” (Virginia Runaways, Virginia Gazette, November 18, 1737)
  • “a blue quilted Petticoat” (Virginia Runaways, Virginia Gazette, July 31, 1746)
  • “a lead coloured quilted petticoat” (Some account of American newspapers, The Pennsylvania Gazette, May 12, 1748)
  • “A greyish coloured quilted petticoat” (Some account of American newspapers, The Pennsylvania Gazette, July 7, 1748)
  • “a short quilted petticoat, of a brown colour” (Some account of American newspapers, The Pennsylvania Gazette, December 1, 1748)
  • “a white Callimarco quilted Petticoat” (Virginia Runaways, Virginia Gazette, March 5, 1752)
  • “an old quilted Petticoat of brown Shalloon, covering a yellow Silk, some of which appears, and lin'd with yellow Stuff” (Virginia Runaways, Virginia Gazette, June 5, 1752)
  • “a blue quilted Petticoat” (Virginia Runaways, Virginia Gazette, July 10, 1752)
  • “an old dark brown quilted Petticoat … a brown quilted Petticoat lined with yellow Bays” (Virginia Runaways, Virginia Gazette, September 29, 1752)
  • “a blue quilted Petticoat” (Virginia Runaways, Virginia Gazette, September 5, 1755)
  • “a black quilted petticoat” (Virginia Runaways, Virginia Gazette, July 20, 1769)
  • “a red quilted petticoat” (Virginia Runaways, Virginia Gazette, September 21, 1769)
  • “a red quilted petticoat” (Virginia Runaways, Virginia Gazette, June 15, 1775)