Robe a la Francaise (sack dress)

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Object detail

Robe a la Francaise featuring a fitted front and full, pleated back (the robe a l'Anglaise had a fitted front and back). Front is laced slightly below the waistline, skirt section is worn open to reveal matching petticoat. Matching petticoats were usually worn with formal gowns. The bodice lining is also laced down the centre back. Other features include: square front and back necklines, elbow length sleeves with double gathered flounces and embellishments around the neckline edge, sleeves and centre front. The embellishments include silk gauze, braid and floss, and glass beads. The gown is made from silk 20 inches wide which is typical of 18th century silk woven in England. It would have been worn over small paniers (hoops).

The following description was provided by Kay Faulkner, master weaver, Brisbane. Fabric structure - complex weave structure with brocade, woven on a drawloom. Single warp, one colour with even sett (spacing of threads), single weft (multi filament) one colour background + brocade (discontinuous weft where several colours are laid in the same pick and used as required). Natural dyes used are: blue (2), brown/olive, cream, olive, and red (3). Basic fabric structure is satin with twill line on reverse (5 end satin often called satin twill). Basic fabric structure is used in the following manner. The main background consists of two elements to create a stripe. The second element is a narrow stripe in tabby weave ground with a weft float width of stripe. Different structures result in raised stripes. There are four brocade motifs, two large and two small. One of the larger and one of the smaller motifs appear to be a mirror repeat to achieve the second. The small motif has unpatterned surround (that is no stripe) in the main element. The large motif has unpatterned surround in the main structure with weft patterning to create a garland effect. The brocade is made up of a discontinuous weft in eight colours. Pattern repeat: width has three motifs across the fabric. Woven width including selvedges is 20 inches. Note piercing at gown hem to accommodate hem width. Twill selvedge - uses some of the red brocade yarn in stripes.
CH classification COSTUME Eveningwear woman
Production date
Production place
Centre front 1397 Centre back 1860
Media/Materials description
Silk (Textiles) Cotton (Textiles) Indeterminate (Glass)
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