This wonderful cream silk capelet has scalloped edges embroidered with a delicate garland of chenille flowers. A shoulder cape like this would have been worn in the early 19th century with a fashionable Empire dress - a slender silhouette with high waist and puffed sleeves. It is likely that this one was worn by Elizabeth Cruger Guerin (1787-1874) who married John Cart, Jr. in Charleston in 1816.

It was given to us in 1955 by Mr. & Mrs. William Porter Cart. Mr. Cart’s paternal grandmother was Elizabeth Guerin Cart.

Chenille threads were popular throughout the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The velvety, fluffy silk thread originated in France and takes its name from the French word for caterpillar, chenille. Because they are so thick and puffy, just a few simple stitches are required to make a charming motif. Later chenille thread (from the mid-19th century) has a wire core rather than the silk core of these early strands.

See this capelet in person when it goes on exhibit as part of Coat Check, on display November 12, 2011 through March 4, 2012.

TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from our textile collection.  Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our new Historic Textiles Gallery and some may be just too fragile to display. We hope you enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on TEXTILE TUESDAY! #TextileTuesday