Antique Featherstitch Extravaganza

“Needlework is a way to capture Love, Beauty, Peace & Time.” unknown

antique woolen petticoat, heavily embellished with surface embroidery, feather stitching and moth holes


Antique needlework has always intrigued me.  So when I spotted this petticoat in an antique shop many years ago, the owner was surprised when I smiled and purchased this moth-eaten slip.  Her eyes said “Why would you want that?”  but her mouth said, “THANK YOU!”

First, I’ve always wondered who made this and who wore it?  Whoever kept warm in this petticoat was either a beloved child or a tiny young lady.  The satin waist band measures a scant 22,”  has a lovely hand stitched buttonhole and a pearl button.  The length is 24″.  My first thought was just who would go to all this trouble for a child’s under garment?  Then, as a mother and grandmother who has spent countless hours on a single garment for a precious little one,  I laughed at that absurd thought.  And I know many of you are laughing, too!  At any rate, I’ll never know for whom this was stitched, but it’s obvious she was well loved.

Needlework is a way to capture Love, Beauty, Peace & Time.” unknown

Well, clearly there is little to be done with this moth-meal leftover other than study it.  And it certainly is worthy of careful scrutiny, with the exception of the moth holes.  Just look at the features.

The hemline design is just spectacular.  Worked with a heavy silk or rayon cord, the embroidery is heavy and elaborate.  Can you see where the hemline is faced? The wool is very lightweight, embroidered only through the top layer.  But the cutwork edge is stitched through both layers.



The tucks are deep and secured with feather stitching.  This decorative stitching is applied throughout the garment.



Three 1″ tucks are held in place with feather stitching, which also covers the seam of the hem to the skirt.

Feather stitches were applied along the center back placket to hold it in place.


Note the fullness of the skirt is drawn up with pleats instead of gathers.


There is only one seam, along the side, which I would have expected to be at the center back.  The seam allowance been pressed open and secured with even more feather stitches.



Moth holes and all, I find this to be a lovely garment.  I might just try to duplicate the wide. open feather stitch with the My Custom Stitch feature on my Brother Dream Machine.   It is also on Brother top-of-the-line machines from the original 8500 (not the 8500D), the ULT 2002, 2002D, 2003D, Duetta 4000D, Duetta 4500D, Quattro 6000D  and  likely more.  Other machine brands may also have a design-your-own-stitch feature.  I’d love to have that stitch.

That’s all I know about this petticoat which was made with so much love.  I have really enjoyed gazing at it through the years and fantasizing about the adoring grandmother with a gray bun and a white apron who made it.  Of course, she was sitting in a rocker in front of the fireplace drinking a cup of tea, humming hymns, and adding love to each stitch.  What a pretty picture.

That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

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