Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Regency Fabrics, Part 7

Here’s another post in our ongoing series on Regency fabrics!

As I have in previous posts, I’ll be examining actual fabric samples glued into several earlier editions of Ackermann’s Repository, samples supplied by the manufacturers and published by Ackermann in order to boost the British cloth-making industry at a time when exporting British goods to Europe was almost impossible because of the Napoleonic war. I'll give you a close-up scan of each sample, the published description if available, and my own observations of the color, weight, condition, and similarity to present-day materials, to give you as close a picture as possible of what these fabrics are like. So here we go!

We have four fabrics from December 1809; overall condition is very good, considering their age, with almost no apparent damage.

No. 1. A gold Jubilee muslin, particularly adapted for the dinner or evening party. Sometimes this article is constructed in a slip, with short white satin, or long lace sleeves; at others, it is blended with velvet, corresponding with the spot. The dress, formed of this animated article, should be made to sit close to the figure, where a natural roundness exists. Where the form is spare, we recommend introductions of satin or velvet, rather than a fulness constructed from the material itself. It is sold by W. and D. Jeremy, No. 148, Strand, at three guineas and a half the dress.

My comments: The ground fabric of this looks almost like a silk twill, due to its sheen; the dots look almost like an afterthought, woven in with a tapestry needle. Even without the heavier dot thread (which looks a lot like a strand of 6-ply embroidery cotton) the fabric is opaque and of a nice weight to drape well. The cost seems high--three and an half guineas!--I wonder what amount of this constituted a dress's worth?

No. 2 A Jubilee twill-shawl cambric, calculated for the wrap pelisse, round domestic jacket, and for all garments which come within the intermediate order of decoration. No trimming can be introduced with the brilliant assemblage of colours displayed in this article, except black velvet; which we particularly recommend as a becoming contrast, and sober chastisement of its attractive, but somewhat glaring colours. It is to be purchased at Waithman and Everington's. No. 104, Fleet-street, corner of New Bridge-street.

My comments: Um, yes--"somewhat glaring colours" indeed! Do you maybe get the feeling that the writer wasn't too pleased at having to feature this fabric? However, unlike some of the cambrics we've seen this twill-weave fabric is of a reasonable density and has a nice, silky hand, but the colors and pattern are unexpected, aren't they? I've begun to wonder why we don't see these printed fabrics in fashion plates; it could be that many clothes were busier than one might guess from the prints in Ackermann's or Belle Assemblee.

No. 3 is an article of much novel elegance, and is called a gossamer cloth. Its texture, of silk and wool, is more happily blended than any article of prior introduction. It is calculated for robes, mantles, or pelisses: the two latter should be lined with sarsnets of agreeably contrasted colours. The adhesiveness of its qualities will not fail to recommend it to our fair country-women as an article particularly adapted to the present style of drapery. it is to be purchased of all colours; but since the happy celebration of the British Jubilee, gold and purple seem to continue to hold fashionable pre-eminence. it is manufactured by Wm. Preston, of Leeds; and sold, wholesale, at 49, Basinghall-street, and retail at all the respectable woollen-drapers and fancy-waistcoat warehouses.

My comments: This is what we might today call a dress-weight wool--it is of a nicely fine twill weave, though somewhat scratchy--hence the warning to line pelisses with sarsnet!  The "British Jubilee" referred to was the year-long celebration of the 50th anniversary of George III's assession, which would come to a close the following July.

No. 4. is a reasonable article for gentlemen's waistcoats, comprising at once the qualities of comfort, fashion, and elegance. This manufacture was formerly recommended in the first number of our work, as best adapted to defend the form from the chilling effects of a severe winter. It became the prevailing vest for gentlemen of the turf and whip-club; and since the present embellishment of the Indian-shawl figure on its ground-work, it is sought for with so much avidity, that the original inventor has innumerable hands employed to answer the present public demand. As imitative beings (of which the universe is composed), we see respectable citizens copying the garb of these youths of fashion. In the present instance, we commend them: for, though not exposed to the chace or the warring elements, there are situations of utility and fatigue to which they are exposed, which will render this a safeguard and bosom friend. Messrs. James Harris and Co. of Coventry (to whom we are indebted for the present pattern), are the inventors of this stylish article; which is also to be purchased of Messrs. Maunds and Co. Cornhill; and sold by the principal drapers and fancy-waistcoat warehouses in London, &c.

My comments: Well. Somehow, I was not expecting fake fur printed with a pattern, but this is more or less what this looks like. I can imagine that it was quite warm and cozy when worn as a waistcoat, but somehow I think I'd prefer Col. Brandon's flannel waistcoat in Sense and Sensibility to this one. I'm not quite sure what the inch-long fibers are made of--wool, probably--while the woven backing could be either linen or wool. Rather surprising, don't you think?

1 comment:

QNPoohBear said...

Thank you again for sharing this with us. If you ever want to know how muslin was made, I'm becoming an expert thanks to a new job at an old thread factory - the first in America. They produced the cotton thread needed to make all that lovely muslin. At some point, when I get it all figured out, I'll do a post on my blog about how muslin thread was made in America when we refused to pay high British taxes following the Revolutionary War.