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Dress fabric
  • Dress fabric
    Garthwaite, Anna Maria, born 1690 - died 1763
  • Enlarge image

Dress fabric

  • Place of origin:

    Spitalfields (woven)

  • Date:

    1752 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Garthwaite, Anna Maria, born 1690 - died 1763 (designer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Brocaded and watered silk

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mrs Marjorie H. Eden

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 52b, case 1

Object Type
This fabric is a brocaded silk and was intended for ladies' gowns. The technique of brocading allowed different colours to be introduced into the pattern of a fabric in specific, sometimes very small areas. It was a more laborious process for the weaver than using patterning wefts running from selvedge to selvedge, but the resulting effect could be much more varied and lively.

Materials & Making
An extra finishing technique has been used on this silk. Watering is a process by which irregular wavy lines are produced on the surface of a textile after weaving either by folding it, or winding it on to an engraved roller, and then subjecting it to heavy pressure. The textile must be woven with a pronounced rib, and as this is crushed in irregular directions the light is reflected as if from the moving surface of water, although no water is actually involved in the process.

John Sabatier, the Spitalfields master weaver for whom Anna Maria Garthwaite designed for this silk, was from a Huguenot family who probably originally came from Lyon, France. In 1716 he had been apprenticed to his father, also called John, who lived and worked in Spitalfields but was still then described as a 'foreign weaver'. The younger John went on to become one of the most important figures in the English silk industry.

Physical description

Dress fabric of ivory brocaded and watered silk. Moiré ground with a symmetrical pattern of brocaded flowers linked by a self-coloured pattern in the ground. The repeat of the design is 22.5 inches long and there is one point repeat in the width of the fabric.

Brocaded watered tabby with one self-coloured flushing weft. The brocaded wefts are not bound by a binding warp. Découpure of 5. Warp threads per inch of 240. 450 cords in the design. The selvedge has two white and two tan stripes woven in tabby, and one outer cordonnet.

Place of Origin

Spitalfields (woven)


1752 (made)


Garthwaite, Anna Maria, born 1690 - died 1763 (designer)

Materials and Techniques

Brocaded and watered silk


Length: 123.82 cm, Width: 48.57 cm, Length: 22.5 in repeat, Width: 9.375 in repeat, Width: 0.19 in selvedge, Length: 48.75 in, Width: 19.125 in

Object history note

Designed by Anna Maria Garthwaite (born in Grantham, Lincolnshire, 1690, died in London, 1763)
Woven in Spitalfields, London

Descriptive line

Dress fabric of brocaded and watered silk, designed by Anna Maria Garthwaite, Spitalfields, London, 1752

Labels and date

British Galleries:
Anna Maria Garthwaite sold the design for this silk to the master weaver John Sabatier, one of her most important customers who commissioned at least 90 designs from her. Sabatier was a leading figure in the English silk industry. Between 1750 and 1757 he employed 400 journeymen weavers. [27/03/2003]

Production Note

The fabric is from design 5989.26.


Textiles; Clothing; Europeana Fashion Project


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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