Lo and behold… an actual mantua!

Corwin dress

Yet another foray into the 17th century… this time circa 1692. This costume was made for display at the Witch House in Salem, Massachusetts. The museum is the only structure in the city of Salem that has direct ties to the infamous witch trials of 1692 and was the home of the Corwin family. For those that know their history, Judge Corwin was one of the trial judges at the time and his wife, Elizabeth, also lived at the house. The mantua is displayed in the bedchamber at the museum and is intended to add to the interpretation of the wealth of the Corwins, particularly that of Elizabeth Corwin. Previously widowed, she had close ties to the Boston merchant scene, and inventories and records from the time show that she had extensive and enviable material possessions. No puritanical grays and browns for her!

The mantua is made of silk damask (the color is to die for… cameras just don’t do it justice!) mounted on a linen bodice lining and all the finishing was done by hand. This was actually completed a few years ago but I do have a vague recollection of machine sewing some of the long skirt seams. Then again with the extensive skirt draping… I may have ended up hand sewing it all. Guess I’ll have to go visit again and double check! The petticoat is silk taffeta pleated to a linen tape at the waist and the sleeve ruffles are hand sewn of fine white linen.

This is still one of my all-time favorite projects and one I’d love to make a copy of for my own wardrobe!


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