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
Typically the deciding factor in whether a garment can be hung is the structural integrity of the shoulders and waist. If the garment is weak at those key points, then, usually, it must be boxed. One dress, however, made us pause. This dress was made for a costume ball in the early 20th century in the style of an 18th century dress (or at least what the designer imagined an 18th century dress might look like). The dress had a separate bodice to accompany the skirt made with bright, pink, synthetic fabric peaking out under elaborately-draped, older, possibly 18th-century, fabric. To support the weight of the skirt, the waistband was sewed to a thin, cotton, tank-top-style bodice. When put on a regular archival hanger, the heavy skirts put too much stress on the thin shoulder straps. Boxing the dress could have been an option, but it would have been tricky with the elaborate gathers of the skirt. Instead, I decided to try to find a hanging solution that would support both the thin top and heavy bottom of this garment.
My solution was a "double-hanger," made from a modified skirt hanger and a regular archival hanger. The skirt hanger was attached to the regular hanger by first straightening the curve in the neck of the skirt hanger. Then a small hole was cut in the bottom of knit cotton covering the regular archival hanger to expose the metal wire. The straightened neck of the skirt hanger was re-hooked on the bottom of the regular hanger such that the skirt hanger dangled below it. Then the neck connecting the two hangers was covered by a small strip of cotton knit stocking filled with Polyfil Fiber.
[gallery columns="1" size="medium" ids="306"]
This absurd-looking hanger supported the skirt separately from the shoulders.
[gallery columns="2" size="medium" ids="393,392,395,394"]
Learn more about how you can save these treasures by participating in our Adopt A Box! program. We thank you for your support!