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Prussian Blue

I have just printed this dazzling Prussian blue designs as an initial offering of my new private label fabric line…à la française. The design is from my 1849 Laines sample book. I did the underlying ombré separately as the document color of Prussian blue plus 3 more ‘authentic for the time period’ colors…green, gold and pink.


Dress styles of the 19th century did change much like today but at a slower pace. Ramoneurs (Fr. chimney sweep), dark ground calicos, were fashionable 1780-1810.  White dresses then became the craze 1800-1815. I think of the court pictures of Empress Josephine, Napoleon’s first wife or a character in the Jane Austen novel. Muslin or mull with gauze woven stripes, spots or sprigs were used for daywear. Evening dresses were often silk gauze with sewn on silver spangles or embroidery, even iridescent beetle wings.

Under garments also changed. Canvas stays of the 18th century that were reinforced with whalebone or cane strips gave way to a columnar style corset that covered the hips and pushed up the breasts. This allowed the classic empire dress to drop in a straight line from just below the bust to the ground.  By 1820-1840 the classic puffed sleeve had grown and lengthened to the leg-of-mutton version, sometimes with a shawl-like collar and the high waistline of the empire style had dropped to a natural waist. Then all that disappeared, returning the shoulders to their natural shape with skirts becoming ever fuller and supported by multiple petticoats. The outer most one was a crinoline…stiff linen and horsehair fabric that gave skirts a bell like shape. 

By 1849  skirts were tightly gathered, the bodice had a deeply pointed V at the waist with tight corseting and the fabric design preference in color, “strong”, and pattern, “very full of work” might today be considered garish!

Image from The Met