Woman's Quilted Waistcoat
Artist/maker unknown, English
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This waistcoat would have been worn informally in lieu of a boned corset with a petticoat and bed gown. Quilting, the stitching together of two or more layers of fabric, made the waistcoat warmer and more supportive. Executed in minute back stitches—as many as forty per inch—its curling vine pattern is reminiscent of arabesques. Originally a word for repeating geometric forms evoking plant and animal shapes in Islamic art, arabesque refers to any pattern of scrolling intertwined lines. They frequently appear in European art, architecture, and decorative arts from the fifteenth through the eighteenth century.