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  • Place of origin:

    Spitalfields (textile, weaving)
    England (ensemble, sewing)

  • Date:

    1747 (weaving)
    1740s (sewing)
    1765 - 1770 (altered)
    1870 - 1910 (altered)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silk, linen, silk thread, linen thread, silk fringe; hand-woven brocade and fringe, hand-sewn

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mrs George Atkinson

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This elegant ensemble illustrates how valuable silk fabrics were reused in the 18th century. The densely patterned silk brocade dates from the late 1730s and characterises the naturalistic designs of subtly shaded fruits and flowers popular during that decade. It may have been made into a sack and petticoat in the early 1740s, then updated in style in the late 1760s The skirts would have been reconfigured for a narrower hoop and the ruchings and fringe added. Even though added some 30 years later, the new fringe of looped silk matches the colours of the brocade very closely. This suggests that it was specially ordered from the lace supplier (who also made braid trimming) to harmonise with and update the 1730s silk.

Physical description

A woman's sack, petticoat and stomacher of ivory ribbed silk, brocaded in a large floral pattern with shades of green, brown, red, blue, pink and purple silks, The sack is open at the front, with robings to the waist and elbow-length sleeves with triple, scalloped sleeve ruffles. The bodice is lined with linen. The back has double, box pleats, stitched at the neckline. There is a waist seam from front edge to bodice side seam; the skirt fronts are pleated at the side seam. The sack is made of 4 widths of silk with a partial width and triangular gore at the sides. The hem is faced with white silk taffeta. The skirt fronts are decorated with a wide ruching of silk, edged with white silk gimp chainstitched fringe with coloured floss knots, arranged in a serpentine line. The fringe edges the front opening of the skirts, adorns the robings in a serpentine line and edges the sleeve ruffles. A silk cord loop at either side on the inside corresponds with a button on the outside of the sack, to loop up the skirts.

The petticoat is made of 2 widths of silk, with a pieced hem at the back and the rest of the petticoat made of white silk. The front is decorated with a deep flounce of silk, edged with the gimp fringe. Above and below are ruchings of silk, edged with fringe, arranged in a serpentine line. The petticoat is lined with white silk taffeta.

The stomacher is triangular with a square bottom edge, ofa different pattern of silk, pieced and unlined. It is decorated with the silk gimp fringe arranged in serpentine lines.

The sack was possibly made in the early 1740s. It was converted in the late 1760s. A waist seam was made in the front, the skirts at the sides were reconfigured for a narrower hoop. It is possible the petticoat was made from panels removed from the sack The sleeve ruffles were added along with the ruching and fringe. An opening at the back of the bodice was stitched up, and the silk loops and buttons attached.

In the late 19th century the sack and petticoat were altered for fancy dress. The robings were partially unpicked and pads sewn at the underarms. Hooks and eyes were sewn to the bodice front. An edging of pleated book muslin was added above the hem on the inside of the skirts. The petticoat waist was unpicked, piecing added to lengthen it and a white silk waist band added. A section of white silk at the back was replaced. A ruffle of white silk was added to the hem of the petticoat on the inside.

Conservation linings were added to the sleeves of the sack and the petticoat in the early 1990s.

Place of Origin

Spitalfields (textile, weaving)
England (ensemble, sewing)


1747 (weaving)
1740s (sewing)
1765 - 1770 (altered)
1870 - 1910 (altered)



Materials and Techniques

Silk, linen, silk thread, linen thread, silk fringe; hand-woven brocade and fringe, hand-sewn


Width: 51.0 cm silk, selvedge to selvedge

Descriptive line

A woman's sack, petticoat and stomacher, 1765-70, English; Ivory silk brocaded with large floral motifs, Spitalfields, 1747; altered 1870-1910

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

Flowered Silks: A Noble Manufacture of the Eighteenth Century Exhibition catalogue, 1990, no.48


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


Hand weaving; Brocading; Hand sewing


Europeana Fashion Project; Women's clothes; Textiles

Production Type



Textiles and Fashion Collection

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