A mystery solved?

A mystery solved?

Another embroidery sample arrived from India on Friday (left, seen against my own embroidery). As I compared it to the photos of the original dress in the museum, something began to dawn on me. Isn’t it funny how you can look at a thing for years and assume it was done one way, but when you put it away for a while and get it out again, a lightbulb goes on and the answer suddenly becomes clear…     Remember how I was angsting about the seams when I first studied the dress? I couldn’t convince the custodians of the dress to let me study it flat on a table, so I had to try to figure out the skirt pattern just by looking at the dress in the glass case (above). The seams delineating each panel shouldn’t be too difficult to see: the embroidery is dense, but I knew that the feather pattern would give it away. According to long-accepted tradition in embroidered costume, the pieces of the skirt would have been embroidered before assembly, so the edges of the feathers should run neatly along the seams. So I looked and looked, but although there were plenty of feathers and plenty of edges and I had a good idea where they should be, I got very confused because I couldn’t find any seams. They were deliciously, perfectly invisible, except for the darts around the waist and hips, around which the pattern has been distorted to fit, and the extraordinarily clumsy center back seam, where the feathers didn’t even come together in line with each other (below).    ...