Making a Rehousing a Home: A Housing Solution for a Bustled Skirt

Editor’s Note: Support the Maryland Historical Society by participating in our Adopt A Box! program. For as little as $100 you can help preserve these treasures for future generations.

By: Lidia Plaza

When a skirt is in good condition, hanging is often an ideal storage solution, as it allows the folds of the skirt to rest more-or-less as they were designed to.  So when I came across a couple skirts from the early 1880's that were structurally sound and heavily pleated, my instinct was to hang them.  However, both skirts had built-in bustles that required more support than a traditional skirt hanger could provide.  (Read about our archival skirt hangers here.)  The first skirt was part of a wedding dress ensemble and came with a matching bodice.  Boxing might have been an appropriate option, but I decided to try to build a hanger that could support the skirts and the bustle.

[gallery size="medium" columns="2" ids="300,301"]

What I came up with was a skirt hanger with an attached pillow.  The pillow was made from a small length of cotton knit stocking stuffed with polyfill and tied off at the ends.  The pillow was then sewed directly onto the center back of skirt hanger.

[gallery size="medium" ids="298,297,299"]

The second skirt was also worn by a bride as part of her "going away" outfit.  This skirt also had an elaborately pleated and draped skirt with attached bustle that required support.  However, this bustle was quite a bit heavier than the first and needed to be secured so as not to fall down off it's pillow.  When the skirt was worn, the waistband of the skirt was clasped together and then the bustle flap was secured over it with ties that would have reached around the waist.  Simply knotting the ties around the neck of the hanger put undue stress on the bustle as well as the ties, which would weaken and possibly break at the knot if left tied for too long.  So, once again, I got creative.

[gallery columns="2" size="medium" ids="378,379"]

In order to support the ties I created little buttonhole loops with a few stitches of thread at three points on the hanger.  The bustle ties were then slipped through the loops and then secured by a few twists instead of a knot. This solution keeps the ties in place and the bustle on its pillow without stressing the ties or the waist of the bustle.

Learn how you can preserve the treasures in our Costume Collection by participating in our Adopt A Box! program. We thank you for your support!