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  • Place of origin:

    France (weaving)
    Great Britain (sewing)

  • Date:

    1750-1759 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Hand woven silk velvet, lined with cotton velvet, hand sewn

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Temporary Exhibition, Room 40, case x7

The design for the velvet of this pocket flap was woven specifically to fit its exact shape. By the 1730s French silk manufacturers were weaving their velvets to fit the configuration of waistcoat fronts, accommodating the curving centre front edge, bottom hem and pocket flaps. This technique was called à disposition or ‘woven-to-shape’. In this snuff-coloured silk of the 1750s, the characteristically Rococo design of flowers, lambrequined scrolls and meandering rope-like motif has been created in cut, uncut and voided velvet.

What makes this waistcoat particularly exceptional is its back, made of a rare piece of cotton velvet. In this early example of 18th century corduroy, the wales of light brown cotton have been woven in a decorative pattern, imitating that of silk velvet. Determining the place of manufacture for these two distinctive velvets is difficult. English weavers in Spitalfields, London copied French silks in both design and technique. While Lancashire was a well-known centre for cotton weaving, by the 1750s Rouen, in France, was beginning to compete in the production of cotton textiles.

Physical description

A man's waistcoat of medium brown silk velvet, with fustian lining and light brown cotton velvet back.

Place of Origin

France (weaving)
Great Britain (sewing)


1750-1759 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Hand woven silk velvet, lined with cotton velvet, hand sewn


Height: 94 cm Maximum height of object - length of back from collar to hem, Circumference: 94 cm Circumference of waist, Circumference: 107 cm Circumference of chest, Length: 87 cm Length of front edge, from collar to hem

Object history note

Purchased from Sotheby's in 1975 for 55 pounds. RF 75/2156.

Descriptive line

Waistcoat, M, British, 1750s, of French silk velvet, with a cotton velvet back

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, p. 104


Silk velvet; Linen; Cotton velvet


Hand weaving; Hand sewing


Textiles; Men's clothes; Fashion; Europeana Fashion Project

Production Type



Textiles and Fashion Collection

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