Circa 1911 or 1912 Skinner’s silk petticoat with gored skirt, drawstring back closure, and elaborately tailored flounce features a rich, vibrant shade of magenta.
Three horizonal tucks band the skirt where it joins the flounce, and the 8” flounce itself consists of four bands of accordion pleating. The petticoat boasts an astounding amount of precision tailoring, from the flat felled seams all around, to the intricate joining of the flounce’s pleated bands, to the diagonal piecing which gives the back of the flounce the correct drape and sweep.
A label sewn to the front of the waistband reads “This Garment is Made of Skinner’s Silk, Manufactured by William Skinner & Sons, Look for the Name in the Selvage”.
The son of a London dyer, William Skinner immigrated to the Northampton, Massachusetts area in the 1840s and founded a silk mill (followed by a second one in 1868) that grew to be the largest in New England. Though a flash flood in 1874 devastated his mills as well as the surrounding worker residences (known as “Skinnerville”), his reputation—and the demand for his silk threads and braids—were so strong he managed to successfully rebuild his business in nearby Holyoke.
In the 1900s, Skinner installed looms in his mills and expanded into the production of woven fabrics and silk linings; by the time the petticoat offered here was manufactured, Skinner Silks had become a leading national brand, with silk linings a major part of his output. His pure silks, silk satins, and pure dye taffetas were a superior product, typically costing a dollar or two more than other manufacturers’, which perhaps explains the exceptional condition of both the fabric and the dye color of this petticoat. Some color names given to 1910s Skinner silks in the pink/red/purple color range were plum, Victory red, rose, wine, burgundy and wisteria.
A 1913 ad in the Boston Evening Transcript offers a “tailored model” of a Skinner’s Silk petticoat for $5, while the other brands sell for $3.75; photo #8 shows (from left to right) 1912, 1915, and 1916 ads for Skinner Silk goods.
Measurements of this petticoat are as follows: Waist to 34” (with drawstring fully loosened), hips 43”, center front waist to hem 35.5”, center back waist to hem 36.5”, and sweep at hem 64”.
Condition is excellent, seemingly unworn deadstock, with no fading to the stunning color or tears or weakening in the fabric.
PLEASE NOTE: The 1950s bodice-style blouse shown with the petticoat in photo #1 is for display only and not for sale.
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