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Waistcoat

1730-1739 (made), 1875-1899 (altered)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

The metal threads of this dazzling waistcoat have been embroidered so densely that not a speck of the white satin fabric underneath can be seen. A pattern of leaves and flowers has been worked in silver-gilt spangles (sequins) and threads in a variety of textures. The ground in between has been embroidered in silver thread. Most of the metal threads are lying on the surface of the waistcoat, held in place by silk threads, in a technique known as couching. By using very fine silks for couching, white for the silver threads and yellow for the silver-gilt, the tiny stitches holding the metal thread in place are cleverly concealed.

The waistcoat has been cut away at the armholes, probably for fancy dress in the late 19th century.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Linen, silk, silver and silver-gilt; hand-woven, hand-embroidered, hand-sewn
Brief Description
Man's linen waistcoat, 1730s, French; linen embroidered all over with silver and silver-gilt threads and spangles, armholes altered 1875-1899
Physical Description
Man’s waistcoat with a round neck, curving fronts, skirts reaching between the knee and middle of the thigh. Each front had a pocket opening and pointed pocket flap. The waistcoat fronts and pocket flaps are made of coarse linen completely covered with embroidery in silver and silver-gilt thread, frisé, strip, purl and spangles in a pattern of large flowers and leaves. The fronts are lined with ivory silk satin, the back with fustian. There are 5 worked buttonholes along the left front, 1 at the neck and 4 at the waist.



The waistcoat was extensively altered in the late 19th century, probably for fancy dress. The armholes were cut larger, the back replaced, the sides below the waist stitched closed and the buttons replaced.
Dimensions
  • Right shoulder to hem length: 86.5cm (approx)
  • Chest under armholes circumference: 96.0cm (approx)
Summary
The metal threads of this dazzling waistcoat have been embroidered so densely that not a speck of the white satin fabric underneath can be seen. A pattern of leaves and flowers has been worked in silver-gilt spangles (sequins) and threads in a variety of textures. The ground in between has been embroidered in silver thread. Most of the metal threads are lying on the surface of the waistcoat, held in place by silk threads, in a technique known as couching. By using very fine silks for couching, white for the silver threads and yellow for the silver-gilt, the tiny stitches holding the metal thread in place are cleverly concealed.



The waistcoat has been cut away at the armholes, probably for fancy dress in the late 19th century.
Bibliographic Reference
Avril Hart and Susan North, Historical Fashion in Detail: the 17th and 18th centuries, London: V&A, 1998, p. 158
Collection
Accession Number
408-1882

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record createdJuly 20, 2007
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