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  • Place of origin:

    Italy (possibly, made)
    England (possibly, made)

  • Date:

    1600-1625 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silk thread, silk thread partially wrapped with silver

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

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

This jacket is made of silk thread. However, in spite of the expensive materials, people wore jackets like these only informally in the home from the late 16th century until the early 18th century.

The jackets were made in rectangular pieces, possibly by teams of knitters who each knitted the same panel over and over again. The pieces of this one are not well finished, which suggests that the purchaser may have joined it together. Two pieces have been let into the sides at a later date, probably in the 1620s or 1630s when waistlines grew wider.

The pattern of this garment is influenced by contemporary woven silk designs, which nearly always featured flowers. It is knitted in stocking stitch using green and gold silk thread, with some of the outlined floral motifs in reverse stocking stitch. The floral motifs were skilfully made, though the gold thread is only loosely stranded across the back of the stitches. The basket work around the hem is in alternate blocks of stocking and purl stitch and the front edges in garter stitch.

European museum collections have a number of similar jackets and tunics which may have been made in centres of production like Venice.

Physical description

Loose fitting jacket of green and silver-wrapped yellow silk thread, made from hand or possibly frame-knitted rectangular panels, hand-sewn together.

Place of Origin

Italy (possibly, made)
England (possibly, made)


1600-1625 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Silk thread, silk thread partially wrapped with silver


Length: 22.5 in, Width: 14.25 in, Length: 15.75 in arm

Descriptive line

Knitted green and yellow silk jacket, Italian, 17th century.

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

Hinchcliffe, Frances (ed.), Knit One, Purl One : Historic and Contemporary Knitting from the V&A's Collection. V&A, London, 1985
Levey, Santina M. Illustrations of the History of Knitting Selected from the Collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum. Textile History Volume 1, Number 2, December 1969. Plate IIIA.

Labels and date

Hand-knitted in silk and silver-gilt thread
Italian, 17th century

These jackets were constructed from separated panels of knitting joined together. The floral patterns in stocking stitch and purl were influenced by contemporary woven silk designs.

The now faded coral-coloured jacket (back view shown) is lined with blue coarsely-woven linen and has the remains of silk binding at the neck. The other is less well-knitted and finished, has gussets added from another garment and is unlined. There are long floats of yarn on the reverse of the knitting.

These garments were fashionable from the late 16th until the early 18th century. One of the latest references to them appears in a London paper of 1712 reporting the theft of 'a green silk knit waistcoat with gold and silver flowers all over it, and about fourteen yards of gold and silver lace thick upon it.'

Similar jackets have survived in many parts of Europe and it is assumed that they came from one centre of production - Italy seems most likely as silk yarns were most easily obtainable there. It is possible that the knitted pieces were stitched together by the purchaser.

106-1899 and 807-1904 [1985]


Silk; Silver


Knitting; Hand-knitting


Fashion; Europeana Fashion Project


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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