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Conservation

Mrs. Mary Hill Maternity Gown

photo of Mary Hill's maternity gown A custom made mannequin is often needed to display historic garments properly. This is especially so for silhouettes created with corsets. Mrs. Mary Hill wore a rich purple velvet open front gown with a figured voided velvet skirt in purple and gold. This costume is especially interesting because Mrs. Hill wore it during pregnancy as evidenced by the maternity panel built into the skirt. Women who were pregnant in the latter 19th century still wore corsets but did not tightly lace them. The highly unusual physical state lends a more detail insight into the personal life of such a public figure. Mrs. Hill was still expected to act as hostess, even while pregnant.

photo of the hand carved mannequinBecause of this unusual silhouette, a mannequin was hand carved of inert materials. Planks of Dow 220 Ethafoam were joined with hot melt glue and carved to an appropriate shape. The Ethafoam was then covered with a layer of thermal bonded polyester batting. Finally, the mannequin was fitted with washed orthopedic cotton knit tubing fabric. Show cover fabric was then applied to the neck area for presentation. A supportive skirt of washed muslin with a train was then sewn to the mannequin to support and protect the skirt from the dirt during exhibition. Because of the singular shape of this costume this mannequin will never be altered and instead saved for further exhibition of this costume.


photo of the front panel of the maternity gown
View of the front panel of the maternity gown.