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Sack back

  • Place of origin:

    England (weaving)
    England (ensemble, sewing)

  • Date:

    1775-1780 (sewing)
    1870 - 1910 (altered)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silk, linen, silk thread, linen thread, whalebone; hand-woven satin and passementerie, hand-sewn

  • Museum number:

    T.2-1947

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

By the late 1770s, the sack-back gown, of which this is an example, was reserved for formal evening or Court dress. The shape of the petticoat, requiring a wide square hoop, also indicates the formality of the ensemble. An arc of precise, wedge-shaped pleats illustrates how the gown was shaped to fit over such a hoop.

The plain fabric and restrained decoration are typical of the late 1770s. Broad and narrow strips of the white silk satin have been edged with silk fringe, gathered and applied to the gown in undulating lines. The fringe is made of looped and knotted floss silk and chenille thread. Lengths of this fringe form tassels which hang from the gown and would have swung and danced as the wearer moved.

Physical description

A woman's sack back and petticoat of white silk satin. The sack back is open at the front with elbow-length sleeves. The bodice meets at centre front, with boning on each side. The bodice and sleeves are lined with bleached linen. There is an opening at the centre back lining, boned on each side with lacing holes for adjusting the bodice. There are two, double, box pleats at the back, stitched at the neckline. The sack back is made of 7 widths of silk, with a waist seam from the front edges to the side-back seam. The skirts are shaped for a wide hoop. The hem is faced with a deep band of white silk taffeta. The skirt fronts are decorated with a wide ruching of satin, edged with white silk chenille fringe, gathered into puffs and arranged in at zig zag pattern, and passementerie tassels of white silk chenille. Narrower ruchings of silk and chenille are placed either side of it. The same narrow ruching adorns the neck.

The petticoat is made of 6 widths of silk and the hem faced with a band of linen. It is adorned with two bands of deep ruching and two of narrow ruching, with passementerie tassels.

The ensemble was altered in the late 19th century for fancy dress. Hooks and eyes were added to the bodice fronts, as well as hooks on the skirt and tapes at the inside waist, to loop up the skirts. The waist of the petticoat was unpicked and reconfigured.

Place of Origin

England (weaving)
England (ensemble, sewing)

Date

1775-1780 (sewing)
1870 - 1910 (altered)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Silk, linen, silk thread, linen thread, whalebone; hand-woven satin and passementerie, hand-sewn

Dimensions

Width: 55.6 cm silk, selvedge to selvedge

Object history note

At the time of acquisition, this sack back and petticoat were reported to have been a wedding dress, although there are no details of provenance known.

Descriptive line

F, 1775-1780, white silk satin, English, with white passementerie trim, court dress, altered 1870-1910

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

Hart, Avril and Susan North, Historical Fashion in Detail: The 17th and 18th Centuries, London: V&A Publications, 1998, pp.56 & 124
Edwina Ehrman, Wedding Dresses 1775-2014, V&A, 2011, pp.31-32

Materials

Material; Silk (textile); Linen (material); Silk thread; Linen thread; Whalebone

Techniques

Hand weaving; Satin weave; Passementerie; Hand sewing

Categories

Clothing; Europeana Fashion Project

Production Type

Unique

Collection

Textiles and Fashion Collection

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