Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Alice's Scrapbag: Grandmother's Pelisse

Above a print from my Moda collection Alice's Scrapbag.
The copy and the original document print (top right) from Alice Browne's quilt.

The print appears in Alice's quilt
in one of the four-patches she stitched in the 1860s.

"This quilt was pieced---a complete surprise for my Mother
---when I was nine years old."

I have imagined the source of the scraps Alice used in the quilt blocks that she sewed to surprise her mother. This one might have been a calico lining for an out-of-fashion winter garment...

Perhaps an old pelisse, a coat that
was fashionable when her grandmother was young.

Pelisse has many meanings. It was first a fur-lined or fur-trimmed coat as in the gold garment above and the later coat draped over the woman's shoulders. The trim was often inspired by men's military garments.

1882: Fictional account of a winter drive in a fur pelisse. 

A pelisse could  also mean an outergarment with military trim and no fur.

Or just a long overcoat in the days of Jane Austen.

Patterned pelisse  from the 1820s in the collection of the 
Metropolitan Museum of Art

Nineteenth-century fashion had many words for what we'd call a long coat.
A redingote, a paletot, a mantle, a pelisse....

With hoop skirts in the 1850s and '60s, shorter coats and shawls became fashionable

I imagine Alice's grandmother might have donated the cotton lining of her old wool pelisse to Alice's Scrapbag.

Grandmother's Pelisse #8312 comes in three colorways.

The print must have been popular. I found a vintage block for sale
with the same design in brown above.


  1. This inspires me to look carefully at the costumes in the PBS series "Mercy Street." In the first program, the dresses all seemed so light and bright compared to what you are showing in these old photos. It would be great if you would comment on the costumes in a future blog.

  2. Pelisse is one of those words I often read but never bothered to look up. I thought I had some idea of what it meant, but I was totally wrong. Thanks for the enlightenment! BTW I'm wondering why those gorgeous studio pictures were taken in full winter outer wear -- coats, bonnets or hoods, muffs? The wraps are covering up gorgeous dresses and the hats and bonnets obscuring lovely faces and hair styles. I don't think we would dress that way today for a formal portrait. Were their coats, hats and muffs so expensive they wanted to show them off?

  3. I would love to see your whole collection. I am sure it will be amazing. I hope you will add more content here eventually.