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  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1630-1640 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Fustian handsewn with linen thread, embroidered with silver thread and spangles, and edged with silver bobbin lace and spangles

  • Credit Line:

    Purchased with Art Fund support

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 56, The Djanogly Gallery, case 9

The high waist and full sleeves set into the back of this waistcoat are characteristic of women’s dress of the 1630s. The style of embroidery is quite unusual: a striking design of meandering lines rather than the naturalistic floral patterns typically seen on earler embellished waistcoats. This abstract design is probably imitating the ‘wave and flower’ patterns of Italian woven silks of the 1620s and 1630s. The sycamore motif used here may be symbolic of sorrowful love. Also unusual is the waistcoat’s modest fabric; a mix of cotton and linen, called fustian, which was often used for linings. The embroidery, however, is carried out in silver thread and embellished with silver bobbin lace and silver spangles.

Physical description

A woman's waistcoat of fustian with a high waistline, very full sleeves set into the back and narrow shoulder wings. The whole garment is worked in chain stitch with silver thread. The embroidery design consists of meandering lines and a motif resembling a sycamore seed case, embellished with spangles. The neck, front and lower hem are edged with a simple bobbin lace of silver thread and spangles.

Place of Origin

England (made)


1630-1640 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Fustian handsewn with linen thread, embroidered with silver thread and spangles, and edged with silver bobbin lace and spangles


Length: 59.0 cm approx., Circumference: 89.0 cm approx. at bust

Object history note

The waistcoat is from the Chaffyn Grove family. In 1686, John Grove married Mary Chaffyn, inheriting Zeals house from her and their descendants took the name Chaffyn Grove. The waistcoat was once said to have been given to Mary Grove by Charles II, but is clearly of an earlier date. In the 19th century, a female successory married into the Troyte Bullock family.

Historical significance: This is a fine example of informal women's dress in the 1630s. While embroidered linen waistcoats of the period 1600-1630 survive in museum collections and appear in portraiture, this is an unusual example. The rather coarse fustian, normally used for linings, has been richly embellished with silver thread, spangles and lace. The rather abstract design of needlework shows the progression from the naturalistic style of a decade earlier.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

John L. Nevinson, 'English Embroidered Costume Elizabeth and James I -- Part I', The Connoisseur, Vol. XCVII, 1936, p.24-5.
Catalogue of the Exhibition of English Needlework (Past and Present) in aid of the Artists' General Benevolent Institution February 19th-March 12th, 1934, p.53
Tiramani, Jenny, 'Fustian Waistcoat', in North, Susan and Jenny Tiramani, eds, Seventeenth-Century Women’s Dress Patterns, vol.1, London: V&A Publishing, 2011, pp.60-69


Fustian; Silver thread; Spangles; Bobbin lace


Hand sewing; Embroidering; Lace making


Fashion; Embroidery; Europeana Fashion Project


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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