Pocket thumbnail 1
Not currently on display at the V&A

Pocket

1760-1775 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

In the 18th century, women’s pockets were not sewn into their gowns. Instead they were attached to a tape and tied around the waist as separate garments. Worn under the hoops and petticoats, they were accessed through openings in the gown and petticoat seams.
Quilting was a popular form of decoration for a variety of garments including pockets. However, hand-quilting was a time-consuming method of decoration. The increased demand for quilted petticoats, waistcoats and pockets led to the invention of woven quilting. In this technique, an extra weft of thick thread was added to the fabric to give the raised effect of the handmade version. Robert Elsden is credited as the inventor of woven quilting, known by the French term, matelassé. He received a prize from the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, in 1745, although the perfection and commercial exploitation of this technique of machine quilting appears to have taken place in the 1760s.

This is an example of matelassé cotton, which has been clearly woven into a pocket shape and could not be sewn into any other object. It may represent a ‘ready-made’ pocket, one sewn up and sold as a finished accessory, rather than made at home.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Cotton, linen; hand-woven, hand-sewn
Brief Description
Woman's pocket of bleached cotton, British, 1760-075, matalassé weave
Physical Description
Woman's pocket of woven, quilted cotton or matelassé with a pattern of a flower pot with flowering tendrils growing up each side of the pocket slit. Around the border is a honeycomb pattern and around the pocket slit, a zig-zag pattern of diamonds filled with bars in alternating directions. The pocket is of conventional lobed shape, has a linen twill back and is suspended from a linen tape binding the top and extending into ties.
Dimensions
  • Length: 34.5cm (approx)
  • Excluding ties width: 24.0cm (approx)
Credit line
Given by Mrs Gordon
Object history
Historical significance: This is an interesting example of woven quilting or matelassé. Also of note is the fact that it is woven to shape, which might suggest a ready-made pocket.
Summary
In the 18th century, women’s pockets were not sewn into their gowns. Instead they were attached to a tape and tied around the waist as separate garments. Worn under the hoops and petticoats, they were accessed through openings in the gown and petticoat seams.

Quilting was a popular form of decoration for a variety of garments including pockets. However, hand-quilting was a time-consuming method of decoration. The increased demand for quilted petticoats, waistcoats and pockets led to the invention of woven quilting. In this technique, an extra weft of thick thread was added to the fabric to give the raised effect of the handmade version. Robert Elsden is credited as the inventor of woven quilting, known by the French term, matelassé. He received a prize from the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, in 1745, although the perfection and commercial exploitation of this technique of machine quilting appears to have taken place in the 1760s.



This is an example of matelassé cotton, which has been clearly woven into a pocket shape and could not be sewn into any other object. It may represent a ‘ready-made’ pocket, one sewn up and sold as a finished accessory, rather than made at home.
Collection
Accession Number
T.150-1970

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record createdDecember 20, 2004
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