I recall seeing Princess Charlotte’s wedding dress years ago at the Museum of London. I couldn’t take my eyes off this exquisite creation made of white silk net and silver embroidery. The details were breathtaking, and I could only imagine the number of hours that seamstresses spent toiling over this wondrous dress. The dress fabric was an exception, made for royalty. (Find more details about the dress and wedding here.)
Jane Austen and her sister Cassandra could choose from any number of bolts of fabrics from their milliners and mantua makers. Some of the more expensive cloths were dyed and handpainted, such as the silk fabric above. It was hand painted in the 1700s, made into a dress, then unpicked and remade into a dress in the 1820’s. The custom of reusing fabrics was not uncommon. This child’s dress was remade from an adult gown. The pattern is obviously too big for the tiny dress to begin with.
This white muslin fabric with embroidered spangles would have shimmered wonderfully at a ball in candlelight. One can imagine the sparkles glittering as the wearer moved about the room.
We know that white muslins were popular during this era, and that silks were used for evening gowns. But what other fabrics were popular during Jane Austen’ time? To learn more about Regency fabrics, find a detailed study and samples on Jessamyn’s Regency Costume Companion.
Read my other post: Seen Over the Ether: Fabrics and Fashion