Block Print c.1800

Today’s post is going to be more of a gallery. I want to build on my last post (The Colorful Regency) and highlight print gowns. The two methods of printing were block and roller (which are exactly what they sound like). Block predates roller, which was invented in the late 18thC and really came into its own in the 1820s.

It was common to see “penciling” combined with block printing. What this means is that the blue part (and sometimes the yellow part) of the design was painted on after the main pattern or “springs” were printed (yes, that’s what “sprigged muslin” means, printed with a small repeating design).

An unusual method of printing that was period was “chine”. The fabric was printed on the warp before weaving, resulting in a blurred design. I couldn’t find one from the Regency, so there’s an 18thC example in the pictures below, but it WAS used throughout the Georgian period (including the Regency) and Victorian era and beyond.


Print Gown c. 1800

A bit about terminology: Calico is a general catch-all term for medium-weight cotton fabric of Indian origin (heavier than muslin). Chintz is calico which has been printed or painted. Many sources state that chintz was also glazed (note: glazed fabrics can’t be laundered!), but this clearly does not seem to be true of all chintz. These fabrics were commonly used for day dresses throughout the entire Regency period.

Indiennes was the term applied to French imitations of Indian chintz,, the most famous of which were produced in Jouy (such as the copperplate printed scenes we now call “toile,” which were only used for furnishings in the 18th and 19th centuries, so don’t dress your heroine in them).

As you’ll see below, white and cream backgrounds were common, but so were da

rk backgrounds in any color you can think of.

Jane Austen’s World has a nice post on this topic with more examples that are worth looking at when you’re done here.


Orange “Sprigged” Gown c. 1800-1810

drawstring dress 1800 1810 detail

Blue “Sprigged” gown c. 1800-1810

Sprigged Gown c. 1795-1805

1830s dress brown

Brown Printed Gown c. 1830

1820 roller printed dress bodice

Roller Printed Gown c. 1820

1805 1840 green blockprint

Green Block Print Gown c. 1805-1810

1795 1800 hooded perline 3

Printed hooded perline c. 1795-1800

floral front fall back detail 1820

Floral Gown, 1820s

1808 close up of back

Tiny Red Dots 1805-1810




Printed Gown c.1800-1810

dress 1810 detail front

Woven Stripe w/printed sprig c. 1805-1810


Chine printed gown

Example of Chine printing, 18thC