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Message Board > Vintage Sewing > checked fabric for a regency era dress? ( Moderated by JEF)

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checked fabric for a regency era dress?
patternaddict
patternaddict
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Date: 12/19/11 10:45 AM

I have a pretty large piece of semi-sheer, black and white gingham check wool fabric. (Checks are woven in, not printed.)

Puzzling over what to do with it I thought it might work for the Simplicity regency dress which I have in my pattern stash,
http://www.simplicity.com/p-2088-costumes.aspx, but I'm not sure it fits the period. Can anyone advise?

I was also thinking of cutting the overdress on the bias if the pattern pieces will fit, so the checks would be diamonds. Is that something that would have been done?

Thanks.

JEF
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JEF  Friend of PR
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Date: 12/20/11 9:41 PM

Anyone have an idea on this?

JEF

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Luckylibbet
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Luckylibbet
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In reply to patternaddict


Date: 12/21/11 12:49 PM

I'm no expert, but a quick survey at the Greater Bay Area Costumers Guild (gbacg.org) showed no Regency dresses in check, but quite a few Victorian dresses.

So I would guess it's not period fabric. Maybe it has to do with the kind of looms available in the early 19th century vs later years? Remember, mechanized weaving exploded in the Victorian era....

Any experts out there?

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Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary. - Steve Jobs

LDT2011
LDT2011
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Date: 12/22/11 4:26 AM

You could try the forum at Sense and sensibility they know about stuff like this usually.

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'The purpose of most fashion is to be ostentatiously non-functional.'

blue mooney
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blue mooney
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Date: 12/22/11 6:29 AM

I remember in one of Jane Austen's books that one young lady asks another if she preferred striped or sprigged muslin, as if there were only those two choices. That's the extent of my scholarship.

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--Robyn
sewing blog: http://bluemooney.wordpress.com/
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andye
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Date: 12/22/11 1:33 PM

wikipedia hints that checked fabrics came later--

Quote:
The name originates from an adjective in the Malay language, genggang[2], meaning striped.[3] Some sources say that the name came into English via Dutch.[4][5] When originally imported into Europe in the 17th century it was a striped fabric, though now it is distinguished by its checkered pattern. From the mid 18th century, when it was being produced in the mills of Manchester, England, it started to be woven into checked or plaid patterns (often blue and white). Checked gingham became more common over time, though striped gingham was still available in the late Victorian period. [6]


You might be able to construct an date specific search of Google books, but right now, it looks like the references to checked cloth are mostly ethnographic, rather than to the reigning fashion of the day.
-- Edited on 12/22/11 1:35 PM --

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patternaddict
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In reply to andye


Date: 12/24/11 7:25 AM

At least in the late Victorian era, 'gingham' seemed to refer to a fabric (which might be checked or plaid or striped) where the pattern was woven in (using different colors of threads) as opposed to calico (where the pattern was printed on.) What we think of as gingham (dark and light tones plus white) was most often sold as 'apron gingham' while the plaids and stripes were usually better quality and sold as 'dress gingham.'

But ... I'll do a little more research, but it seems that I'll need to find another use for the gingham wool .. and find a different fabric for the regency gown. Or I can make it and enjoy it and not worry about it being strictly 'period.' (The places I'd likely wear it wouldn't care...)

stirwatersblue
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stirwatersblue
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In reply to patternaddict


Date: 12/24/11 12:07 PM

Quote: patternaddict
Or I can make it and enjoy it and not worry about it being strictly 'period.' (The places I'd likely wear it wouldn't care...)

This is my vote!

There are plenty of checked/gingham dresses in the recent Jane Austen films. And speaking as a costumer *and* an author of historical novels... these were the days before widespread standardization of patterns and construction; women had their own construction techniques and used the fabrics they had available. Because we cannot prove that something was ever done a particular way does not necessarily mean that some woman somewhere didn't have a length of checked fabric and made it into a gown. You've done your research into the history and can discuss the fabric intelligently; now you need to decide whether YOU feel comfortable with the inevitable inaccuracies, be they large or small.

(I'm not sure I'd go with turning the overlay on the bias, though. I have nothing to back it up, but something about that feels disconcerting to me.)

Have fun!

------
~Gem in the prairie

The Dreamstress
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The Dreamstress
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Date: 12/27/11 7:14 PM

Checked fabrics aren't common for Regency - but they are perfectly historical for that period. I know of one of two examples of extent Regency garments in checks, and one example of a painting with a girl in checks.

Checks are the oldest documented woven design, with checks being found in Coptic Eygptian graves and in the excavations of Halstaat Bronze age textiles. They went in and out of popularity over the centuries following. So they definitely existed ca. 1800!

I've also seen a few example of Regency garments with pieces cut on the bias, but it was usually to take advantage of the design of the fabric, or to conserve fabric, not to use the bias drape (as we use modern bias).

I hope that helps

The Dreamstress
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Date: 1/29/12 5:54 PM

You've probably long since finished this project, or moved on to another one, but just in case (and for the benefit of anyone else who googles it), here are two extent Regency dresses out of checked fabric.

Early 19th century (prob 1815-20) dress of checked cotton, France,from the MFA Boston

ca. 1820 (but still with the very high waist) dress of checked madras plaid sold by Augusta Auctions in 2005 And this one has a beautiful bias-cut bodice

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