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  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (made)

  • Date:

    1740-1749 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Cotton, linen, worsted thread; hand-woven, hand-embroidered, hand-sewn

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Miss K. A. Sauvary

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This sleeved cotton waistcoat is embroidered with coloured wool yarn in buttonhole and chain stitch. It was probably made in India for export to Europe and its bold floral design shows a mixture of Indian and European influence.

The areas of the pattern worked in chain stitch were done with a tambour hook, instead of a needle. Similar to a modern crochet hook, the tambour hook was inserted through the cotton to pull a loop of embroidery thread through. Chain-stitch worked with a hook could be done much more quickly than with a needle. The technique developed in India and was introduced in Britain in the mid-18th century and further adapted. Instead of holding the fabric in the hands, British embroiderers preferred to stretch it tightly on a circular frame resembling a drum or ‘tambour’.

Physical description

Man’s waistcoat with a round neck, curving 2-piece sleeves, slightly curved fronts and skirts reaching between the top of the knee and mid-thigh. Each front has a pocket and pointed pocket flap. The fronts, cuffs and pocket flaps are made of cotton, the back, sleeves and pocket flap linings of coarse figured cotton (dimity). The fronts are lined with the same dimity, the back, sleeves and pockets with coarse linen. The waistcoat is embroidered-to-shape with crewel (worsted) thread in shades of red, pink and green in a pattern of spiky leaves and round-petalled flowers, on the cuffs and pocket flaps, around the front neck and pockets and along the front edges and hems. There are 12 worked buttonholes along the left front edge and 1 on each cuff. There are 12 (2 have lost their core) corresponding buttons covered with green crewel thread on the right front, and 1 button covered with white linen thread on each cuff.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (made)


1740-1749 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Cotton, linen, worsted thread; hand-woven, hand-embroidered, hand-sewn


Length: 79.0 cm right shoulder to men approx, Circumference: 93.0 cm chest under armholes approx

Descriptive line

A man's sleeved waistcoat, 1740s, British; cotton embroidered with crewel (wool) threads, Indian-inspired design

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. 160


Cotton (textile); Linen (material); Crewel


Hand sewing; Hand weaving; Hand embroidery


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


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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