Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Regency Fabric, Part 17

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!

Today’s three samples are from the January 1811 issue of Ackermann’s Repository. The overall condition of my copy is excellent: the page has been trimmed but is otherwise free of foxing and toning, and the fabric samples themselves appear to be in fine shape.

Here we go!

Nos. 1 and 2. A printed cotton, lace pattern, particularly adapted for half-mourning dresses. From the elegance of the pattern, we presume that it is likely to become a favourite article with our fashionable females for morning or domestic wear. It is furnished by Churchill and Blomefield, 36, King-street, Cheap-side.

My comments: All of the fabrics in this month’s offering are suitable for mourning use, likely in acknowledgement of court mourning after the death of George III’s youngest daughter, Princess Amelia, in November 1810. This print looks remarkably like a net lace, doesn’t it? It’s similar in weight to today’s quilting cotton fabrics, though the weave itself is not as smoothly woven as a quilting cotton, having a lot of slubs not visible on the printed face of the fabric but clearly in view on the reverse..  

No. 3. A silver grey embossed satin, particularly adapted for slight mourning. With robes of this article every order of black trimming, and bugle or jet ornaments, are consistent. The robe should be constructed plain, with a short Grecian sleeve and demi-traine, the robe sitting close to the bust. Furnished by Messrs. Cooper’s, Pall-Mall.

My comments: What lovely fabric! It’s hard to judge whether the color has changed—it is over two hundred years old, after all—but this appears more blue than silver grey. I’m guessing the fiber is silk, based on the sheen and the smooth hand; it would drape beautifully

No. 4. A grey and black imperial cambric, calculated for the intermediate or morning costume. The Flemish jacket, and simple round gown, with antique stomacher and sleeve, each trimmed or ornamented with black velvet, and trimmed round the throat and cuffs with full plaitings of black net, or black Vandyke lace, are the most tasteful habits we have seen of this material. It may be procured at Messrs. Smith’s, 43, Tavistock-street, Covent-Garden.

My comments: Again, I would call this blue rather than grey, but there may also have been some color change over the centuries. The fabric is woven with a slight rib set on the diagonal which, combined with the print, gives it pleasant visual interest. The weave is very fine and even with a smooth, drape-y hand, opaque enough not to require an underdress.

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