Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
South Asia, Room 41

Gown

ca. 1740-1760 (embroidered), 1775-1780 (sewing)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

The floral pattern on this dress fabric is so finely embroidered that at first sight it could be mistaken for a printed design. It is typical of the superb chain-stitch embroidery done in Gujarat, in western India, by professional craftsmen of the Mochi community, using both a tambour hook (ari) and a needle. The fabric would have been imported as piece-goods (lengths of cloth) and made up in England.

The style of the dress dates it to around 1780, while the embroidered fabric appears to date from somewhat earlier in the 18th century. The dress has elbow-length sleeves, with a tight bodice section opening down the front. The full skirt is open at the front, revealing a section of the petticoat worn underneath.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Cotton, linen, silk threads; hand-woven, hand-embroidered and hand-sewn.
Brief Description
A woman's gown, 1775-80, British; of Indian calico chainstitched with coloured silk thread, 1740-60
Physical Description
A woman's gown of calico with an all over pattern, of floral sprays in shades of pink, red, yellow and green interspersed with single tulips and carnations, worked in chainstitch with a needle.



The dress is an open robe with English back running straight into the skirt. The skirt is arranged in flat pleats. The neck is round and the sleeves are short elbow length. The dress has an edge to edge closure at the front, without any fastenings. The bodice is linen lined and the skirt is faced with cotton with a tape band facing the hem.



The dress is worn; there are contemporary patches on the lining at the back and under the arms.
Credit line
Given by Mr and Mrs G. H. G. Norman
Production
The fabric was woven and embroidered in India in about 1740-60 for the Western market, and made up into a dress in England in about 1780.
Summary
The floral pattern on this dress fabric is so finely embroidered that at first sight it could be mistaken for a printed design. It is typical of the superb chain-stitch embroidery done in Gujarat, in western India, by professional craftsmen of the Mochi community, using both a tambour hook (ari) and a needle. The fabric would have been imported as piece-goods (lengths of cloth) and made up in England.



The style of the dress dates it to around 1780, while the embroidered fabric appears to date from somewhat earlier in the 18th century. The dress has elbow-length sleeves, with a tight bodice section opening down the front. The full skirt is open at the front, revealing a section of the petticoat worn underneath.
Bibliographic Reference
Avril Hart and Susan North, 'Historical Fashion in Detail. the 17th and 18th centuries', London, V&A, 1998, p.162 (detail and line drawing).
Collection
Accession Number
T.391-1970

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record createdJanuary 6, 2004
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