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  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (made)

  • Date:

    1735-1740 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silk, linen, silk thread; hand-woven, hand-embroidered, hand-sewn

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mrs Esnor

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

A combination of silk and chenille threads in a variety of colours creates a sumptuous embroidered design on this waistcoat. Chenille was a type of thread produced with pile protruding from all sides. Chenille is French for ‘caterpillar’, a name that accurately describes its velvety texture. It was much used in embroidery and woven fabrics in the 18th century, adding texture and depth to designs.

On this waistcoat, the chenille threads graduate in shade from light to dark green on the leaves and white through pink to dark red on the flowers, giving each a three-dimensional quality. The arrangement of the embroidery covering the whole of the waistcoat and the large scale of the pattern are typical of Baroque design.

Physical description

Man’s waistcoat of brown silk taffeta with a round neck, curving fronts, skirts reaching between the knee and middle of the thigh. Each front had a pocket opening and scalloped pocket flap. The waistcoat and pockets are lined with linen; the fronts faced and skirts, pocket flaps lined with ivory silk twill. The fronts are embroidered all over with silk and silk chenille threads in shades of pink, purple, green, yellow and blue in a pattern of large flowers and leaves. There are 17 worked buttonholes along a strip of brown silk under the left front edge and 16 (1 now missing) corresponding buttons, covered in brown silk thread on the right front.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (made)


1735-1740 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Silk, linen, silk thread; hand-woven, hand-embroidered, hand-sewn


Length: 95.8 cm right shoulder to hem approx, Circumference: 94.5 cm chest under armholes approx

Descriptive line

A man's waistcoat 1735-40, British; brown silk taffeta embroidered with coloured silk floss & chenille

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

Avril Hart and Susan North, Historical Fashion in Detail: the 17th and 18th centuries, London: V&A, 1998, p. 156


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


Hand sewing; Hand weaving; Hand embroidery


Fashion; Europeana Fashion Project


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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