Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Regency Fabrics, Part 4

What fabrics were fashionable in July 1809? Let’s have a look!

As I have in previous posts on Regency fabrics, I’m looking at 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. 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.

Four fabrics are up for July...the overall condition is good, though fabric No. 4 seems to have some foxing, and I suspect the yellow in No. 1 has faded slightly.

No. 1 is a yellow-printed book-muslin, ell-wide, admirably adapted for ladies’ evening dresses, and furnished by Messrs. Smith and Co. 43, Tavistock-street, Covent-garden.

My comments: Very fine, open weave (book-muslin is a very thin fabric by definition), definitely requiring an underdress of some sort. The threads are not as even in thickness as I would expect for an upscale fabric. I can’t really picture this for evening wear—the pattern reminds me too much of 1930s quilt fabric, but that’s more my problem! By the way, an English ell was usually about 45 inches—so this would have been very close in width to a modern bolt of fabric.

No. 2, a striped muslin, or nainsook, 6-4ths wide, is an extremely elegant article for morning dresses, and was supplied by Messrs. Brisco and Powley, 103, New Bond-street.

My comments: Lovely stuff! The woven-in stripes are beautiful and delicate, the weave very tight and thread very fine, so that despite its overall lightness it seems fairly opaque. I'm not sure what "6/4ths wide" would work out to in modern terms--if anyone out there knows, will you please comment?

No. 3 is a printed cambric-muslin, 9-8ths wide. It is a highly-fahionable article, and uncommonly elegant, from the delicacy of its design and print, which we have authority to assure the public to be a permanent colour. It was furnished us by the same house as the previous pattern.

My comments: Another print that reminds me of 1930s quilting cottons! A slightly sturdier thread than the book-muslin, and therefore less sheer but still a nice, light weight dress fabric.

No. 4. This chintz, or shawl pattern marcella, ¾ wide, is a truly elegant and fashionable article for gentlemen’s waistcoats. It was furnished by Messrs. Richard Smith and co. 2, Prince’s-street, Leicester-square.

My comments: A heavy, almost quilted-feeling fabric, with both a printed pattern and a corded stripe pattern woven in. It’s not what we would call a chintz today, but definitely a pique (the alternate name of marcella). Very smooth and nicely woven.

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