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.
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.
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?