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  • Place of origin:

    England (probably, weaving)
    England (ensemble, sewing)

  • Date:

    1760 - 1765 (sewing)
    1770 - 1775 (altered)
    1870 - 1910 (altered)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

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

  • Credit Line:

    Given by John Sterling Williams

  • Museum number:

    T.77 to B-1959

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The sack was the most popular style of formal dress for women in the mid-18th century. It was loose at the back, with the fabric gathered into pleats at the shoulder. In front, the gown was open, showing off a decorative stomacher and petticoat. This example is decorated with ruchings and ruffles of the same silk, edged with white fly fringe (a type of silk fringe). The arrangement of these decorations in curves and loops shows Rococo influence. The bright yellow colour of the silk was a popular shade in 18th century women’s dress.

Physical description

A woman's sack and petticoat of yellow ribbed silk. The sack is open at the front, with robings to the waist and elbow-length sleeves with double, scalloped sleeve ruffles. The bodice and sleeves are lined with linen. The back has two, double box pleats stitched at the neck line. The sack is made of 4 widths of silk with a triangular gore and partial panel on each side of the front. A waist seam extends from front edge to side back seam of the bodice. The skirt fronts are pleated at the side by the pocket openings. Scalloped and pinked ruching, edged with a white and yellow silk floss knotted fringe, decorates the front of the skirts in a serpentine line. Four tassels of the fringe with white-silk-wrapped parchment loops, decorate each skirt front. The robings have a ruching of pinked, scalloped silk and fringe. The same fringe edges the sleeve ruffles.

The petticoat is made of 5 widths of silk, pieced at the waist, opening at centre back. There is a box pleat at the centre front and flats pleats at the sides and back. The hem is bound with yellow linen ribbon. The petticoat front is decorated with a row of fringe-edged ruching at the hem. Above is a deep flounce of silk, pinked and edged with fringe. Above is a narrow fringe-edged ruching arranged in a serpentine line.

The sack was altered style and fit, probably in the early 1770s; the waist seam was lowered and side seams let out slightly. It was further altered for fancy dress in the late 19th century; a dart (now unpicked) was put into the lining at the back. The original stomacher has been lost and another (possibly 18th century) was used. Hooks (now removed) were added to the bodice fronts for the stomacher. The weights in the sleeves and hem of the petticoat were probably added at this time.

A yellow silk lining was added by Textile Conservation to the sack skirts and petticoat for display in 1982.

Place of Origin

England (probably, weaving)
England (ensemble, sewing)


1760 - 1765 (sewing)
1770 - 1775 (altered)
1870 - 1910 (altered)



Materials and Techniques

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


Width: 48.0 cm silk, selvedge to selvedge approx

Descriptive line

A woman's sack and petticoat, 1765-75, English; Yellow silk, pinked and gathered trim, white silk fringe; altered 1870-1910


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


Hand weaving; Hand sewing; Pinking


Women's clothes; Formal wear; Textiles; Fashion; Europeana Fashion Project

Production Type



Textiles and Fashion Collection

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