This once splendid gown illustrates the recycling process that most clothing underwent, until the late nineteenth century. It is made of velvet, cut and uncut in three heights of pile, in a pattern of pomegranates and gillyflowers. Once decorated with spangled silver bobbin laces, this has been unpicked leaving a few traces of lace in the seams and tufts of the original sewing thread.
The style of these sleeves is known as ‘hanging’. They were cut very long in a deep curve at the back, narrowing to the wrist. The front seam was left open so that the arm could move free of the sleeve, which is left hanging from the shoulder. A grid of tiny holes decorates the pink silk lining the sleeves. The practice of making deliberate decorative holes in fabric was known as ‘pinking’ and it was a popular method of adorning dress from the mid-16th century to the mid-17th century. The fabric would be folded several times and cushioned with paper, then placed on a block of lead. Striking a metal punch through the silk with a hammer created a pattern of regular cuts or ‘pinks’.