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  • Place of origin:

    England (made)
    Italy (velvet is Italian, woven)

  • Date:

    1610-1620 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silk velvet, silk, linen, silk thread, linen thread, hand-sewn

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This once splendid gown illustrates the recycling process that most clothing underwent, until the late nineteenth century. It is made of velvet, cut and uncut in three heights of pile, in a pattern of pomegranates and gillyflowers. Once decorated with spangled silver bobbin laces, this has been unpicked leaving a few traces of lace in the seams and tufts of the original sewing thread.

The style of these sleeves is known as ‘hanging’. They were cut very long in a deep curve at the back, narrowing to the wrist. The front seam was left open so that the arm could move free of the sleeve, which is left hanging from the shoulder. A grid of tiny holes decorates the pink silk lining the sleeves. The practice of making deliberate decorative holes in fabric was known as ‘pinking’ and it was a popular method of adorning dress from the mid-16th century to the mid-17th century. The fabric would be folded several times and cushioned with paper, then placed on a block of lead. Striking a metal punch through the silk with a hammer created a pattern of regular cuts or ‘pinks’.

Physical description

A woman's loose gown of Italian cut & uncut mulberry-coloured velvet, with hanging sleeves and shoulder wings. Sleeves are lined with pinked, pink silk taffeta. Gown was once decorated with two different types of silver lace (removed before acquisition). Front left and most of back cut missing. 178A-1900 is a panel of the gown that was unstitched before acquisition.

Place of Origin

England (made)
Italy (velvet is Italian, woven)


1610-1620 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Silk velvet, silk, linen, silk thread, linen thread, hand-sewn


Length: 142.5 cm approx, Width: 78 cm hem approx, :

Object history note

Part of the Isham collection purchased in 1899. Judith Lewin marrried Sir John Isham in 1607 and had two daughters, Elizabeth (1608-54) and Judith (1610-36) and a son before her death in 1625. The gown could have been worn by Judith and the recycling process started by one of her daughters.

Descriptive line

Part of a woman's gown, 1610-20, English, cut and uncut mulberry, Italian, silk velvet, pinked silk lining

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. 174
Janet Arnold, Patterns of Fashion: The cut and construction of clothes for men and women c1560-1620, London: Mcmillan, 1985, p122-3
Waugh, Norah, The Cut of Women's Clothes, 1600-1930, London: Faber and Faber, 1968, diagram I
Payne, Blanche, History of Costume From the Ancient Egyptians to the Twentieth Century, New York: Harper & Row, 1965
Braun, Melanie, 'Velvet Gown', in North, Susan and Jenny Tiramani, eds, Seventeenth-Century Women’s Dress Patterns, vol.2, London: V&A Publishing, 2012, pp.18-33


Silk velvet; Silk taffeta; Linen; Silk thread; Linen thread


Hand sewing

Subjects depicted



Clothing; Fashion; Europeana Fashion Project

Production Type



Textiles and Fashion Collection

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