Dress fabric

ca. 1760 (made)

Batchelor, Ham & Perigal

Length: 123 cm, Width: 49.4 cm including selvedges

T.26-2010 T&F

Blue satin brocaded in colours, English (Spitalfields), about 1760

Loom width of blue silk satin, broken with an overall ground pattern of white spots, and brocaded in colours. The design is of scattered flower sprigs, including honeysuckle and pinks, two repeats in width. Two pink and two ivory stripes in selvedge. Traces of waist pleats at the top pinked edge.

Fashionable men and women displayed their taste in the fine fabrics they chose for their clothes. Until the later 17th century most silks were imported. But a silk-weaving industry developed in England, centred around Spitalfields in London, which grew increasingly successful between 1700 and 1760. Huguenot refugee families, contributing technical and business skills, played an integral part in its development. Mid 18th century patterned silks woven in Spitalfields were dominated by designs with white or light-coloured grounds, at which the industry was said to excel. Examples with stronger coloured grounds like this are much rarer. It can be closely compared with a small sample in one of the V&A's pattern books from the firm of Batchelor, Ham and Perigal, T.375-1972, p.271, which helps to place it as the likely product of these leading London weavers. The fabric is a brocaded silk satin. 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.

This panel of brocaded silk dress fabric was transferred to the V&A by the Museum of London. It was taken from an 18th century dress given to the Museum of London, that had lost its integrity as a garment through alteration and damage, but still contained several panels of silk in good condition. The donor gave permission for the dress to be dismantled and the panels dispersed among different museums, as representative examples of good quality English dress fabric of the period.

Transferred from the Museum of London as part of a gift to them from Patricia Spash

Location: In Storage

View this object on the V&A website