These panels of unfinished blackwork shows how embroidered garments were made in the early 17th century. The shapes for two jacket fronts and two sleeves has been drawn in pen and ink on linen, with the design for their embroidery. The linen would have been secured in a frame to hold it taut while the embroidery was done. Once completed, the shapes would have been cut out by a tailor and sewn together. The very short waist of the jacket fronts and close-fitting shape of the sleeves suggest a date between 1619 and 1625.
Blackwork was a style of needlework popular in England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. It was worked with a single colour of silk, usually black, as on this panel, but also sometimes blue, red or green, on linen. The pattern of flowers, birds and insects is characteristic of embroidery of this period, inspired by herbals and other popular books on the natural world. The style of embroidery uses speckling stitch, comprised of tiny running stitches arranged to give a shaded effect. Blackwork in speckling stitch imitates the graphic method used in woodblock prints to create three-dimensional shapes.