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.
Design & Designing
Dress silks from France had dominated fashionable taste across Europe since the later 17th century. Designers for the English silk industry observed French trends and followed their developments in design and technique, adapting them to a recognisable English style for the home and important export market. In the first half of the 18th century, the cut and construction of women's dresses changed relatively little, and a lady of fashion would show how up-to-date she was with the pattern she chose for the silk of her gown. The striking motif in this silk of an out-of-scale tree growing on an island first appeared in French silks of the early 1730s, and was being incorporated by English designers and sold by London mercers soon after.