This sleeved cotton waistcoat is embroidered with coloured wool yarn in buttonhole and chain stitch. It was probably made in India for export to Europe and its bold floral design shows a mixture of Indian and European influence.

The areas of the pattern worked in chain stitch were done with a tambour hook, instead of a needle. Similar to a modern crochet hook, the tambour hook was inserted through the cotton to pull a loop of embroidery thread through. Chain-stitch worked with a hook could be done much more quickly than with a needle. The technique developed in India and was introduced in Britain in the mid-18th century and further adapted. Instead of holding the fabric in the hands, British embroiderers preferred to stretch it tightly on a circular frame resembling a drum or ‘tambour’.


  • Title: Waistcoat
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: 1740/1749
  • Location: India
  • Physical Dimensions: Length: 30 in, Width: 15 in across shoulders
  • Provenance: Given by Miss K. A. Sauvary
  • Medium: Embroidered cotton with woollen threads, hand-sewn and hand-embroidered

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