The sign of the unicorn. A fabric shop for 18th century reenactors and historians.

18th Century Cotton Printed Fabrics

Chintz | 18th Century Cotton Prints

 

 

18th Century Cotton Prints

Printed cottons made before the process became much more sophisticated in the early 19th century have a charm that was lost with the advent of roller printing. Some of the prints offer the sought after monochrome designs on a light background that in the period were printed using the color resist method or by block printing. You may choose to make an entire printed gown, jacket or banyan and have a garment to be proud of. Alternatively you may buy a small piece to border a petticoat, line the turn back cuffs on your short gown or to make a pair of pockets adding a touch of luxury to your wardrobe.

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Kaprifol
59" wide $39.95/yd.

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This true block print is a typical rococo design copied from a mid 18th century original used as a lining in a woman's short gown found at Kallfors mannor, Sodermanland, Sweden and now kept in a private collection. Originally printed in pink and red, blue and brown flowers and scrolls on white ground this reproduction is very similar in color. The design was block printed on hand spun linen, with the blue color painted after since the blue pigment was not compatible with the mordants used for the other dyes.

Printed cottons were often used to make women's gowns or jackets. The gown or jacket may have a matching petticoat of the same fabric but petticoats were usually not made of printed fabrics unless the upper garment is also of the print. Men's banyans were also made of printed fabrics. In The Cape Fear Mercury of 1773, "Run away . . .  an Indented Servent Girl . . .  lately from Ireland, but says she has lived 14 years in London . . .  had on . . .  calico with red flowers, gowns, and 6 yard of dark coloured calico not made up." This is cited in Wenches, Wives and Servant Girls. White 35/2 linen thread will work well for hand sewing this fabric.

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Calico cotton swatch for 18th century reenactors, 18th century interior designs, and historic interpreters.
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Red Vallmo
59" wide $35.95/yd.

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Sample print on paper nr. 1104, Anders Berch collection Nordiska Museet, Stockholm. The sample print is dated 1741, with a note that it was delivered to Hr Debrun. This refers to the duch family de Broen hwo between 1727 and 1771 was running printing manufactories in Stora Sickla and Blecktornsfabriken, Stockholm.

Printed in one color makes this a very common working class fabric for a gown or jacket. The gown or jacket may have a matching petticoat of the same fabric but petticoats were usually not made of printed fabrics unless the upper garment is also of the print. Men's banyans and sometimes waistcoats were also made of printed fabrics. For example included in Wenches, Wives and Servant Girls an ad from 1773 in The New York Gazette told of a "Run away . . .  an indented Servant Girl . . .  lately from Ireland, but says she has lived 14 Years in London . . .  took with her two short Gowns, one striped blue and white, the other Callicoe with red Flowers; and six Yards of Callicoe not made." White linen thread 80/3 is a good match for hand sewing.

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Calico cotton swatch for 18th century reenactors, 18th century interior designs, and historic interpreters.
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Replica of a printed cotton swatch for 18th century reenactors, historic interior designs, and historic interpreters.

Red and Blue Lingon
56" wide $39.95/yd.

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Sample print on paper nr. 1119, Anders Berch collection Nordiska Museet, Stockholm. The sample print is dated 1739 and appears to have been a running print between 1727 and 1771 in Stora Sickla and Blecktornsfabriken, Stockholm.

One color prints were the most common and least expensive in the 18th century. Small patterned monochrome prints were used as linings for clothing as well as furnishing. Besides banyans this fabric will make an attractive woman's gown or petticoat or man's waistcoat.

Another example is in The Pennsylvania Chronicle of 1772 "Ran away . . .  an indented servant woman . . .  had on when she went away, a blue and white linsey petticoat, blue and white figured callico gown". As cited in Wenches, Wives and Servant Girls. Ivory linen thread 80/3 will work well for hand sewing.

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Replica of a printed cotton swatch for 18th century reenactors, historic interior designs, and historic interpreters.

Brown Shell
56" wide $35.95/yd.

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Block printed cotton dated 1760-80 used as lining for a Banyan that is in the collection of the Winterthur Museum, Delaware.

One color prints were the most common and least expensive in the 18th century. Small patterned monochrome prints were used as linings for clothing as well as furnishing. Besides banyans this fabric will make an attractive woman's gown or petticoat or man's waistcoat.

An example is in The Pennsylvania Packet of 1773 "Ran away . . .  an Irish servant girl . . .  she had on and took with her, a calico short gown . . .  She stole . . .  one calico gown of a shell figure". As cited in Wenches, Wives and Servant Girls. Ivory linen thread 80/3 will work well for hand sewing.

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Chintz | 18th Century Cotton Prints

Chintz

Chintz (from the Hindi word chint, meaning to sprinkle or spray) were made using a multi-step process involving painting, resist dyeing, and mordant dyeing. A final finish was applied by burnishing with shells or beaten with a mallet to give them a shiny surface.

Both in America and Europe but especially in Britain and the Netherlands chintz fabric from India soon became the craze from gentry to servants after their first introduction in the 17th century. The glazed and printed cotton was a favorite long into the 19th century until the cheaper machine made copies replaced the hand painted cloth from India. In the 17th century it was used at first for bed hangings and bedcovers of the gentry then when worn out reused for clothing the children of the lower sorts. But the bright colors of the beautiful prints were soon being used for linings and later into women's jackets, skirts, and gowns and men's banyans and enjoyed by all economic classes. Much of what is written here is summarized from the book Chintz: Indian Textiles for the West by Rosemary Crill.

Wavy Floral
45" wide $19.99/yd.

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Copied from an original print in the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum in Colonial Williamsburg this chintz could be made into a women's jacket or gown. The gown or jacket may have a matching petticoat of the same fabric but petticoats were usually not made of printed fabrics unless the upper garment is also of the print. Men's banyans were also made of chintz. For example in The Virginia Gazette of 1770, "Stolen . . .  two chintz gowns, one dark, the other light, with sprigs and branches, and a coat of the same" is cited in Wenches, Wives and Servant Girls. Ivory linen thread is a good match for hand sewing.

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Calico cotton swatch for 18th century reenactors, 18th century interior designs, and historic interpreters.

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Cotton chintz fabric swatch repeating part of an original 18th century design for 18th century reenactors, historic home upholstery, and museum interpreters.

Exotic Flowers
45" wide, $19.99/yd.

Chintz with red vines were common because of the difficulty to print in green although this has many olive green shades both in the leaves and within the flowers. Reproduced from an original in the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum in Colonial Williamsburg chintz were often used to make women's gowns or jackets. The gown or jacket may have a matching petticoat of the same fabric but petticoats were usually not made of printed fabrics unless the upper garment is also of the print. Men's banyans were also made of chintz. For example in The Pennsylvania Gazette of 1777, "Run away . . .  a servant woman . . .  had on, and took with her, a light chintz gown" is cited in Wenches, Wives and Servant Girls. Ivory linen thread is a good match for hand sewing.

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Blossoms and Buds Stripe
45" wide $19.99/yd.

Sometimes printed stripes appear in runaway ads but these printed stripes were intermixed with flowers opposed to a simple stripe that could be much easier woven. Chintz with green vines were very unusual because of the difficulty of printing in yellow and painting in blue to make the green color but they occasionally appear. Reproduced from an original ladies jacket in the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum in Colonial Williamsburg chintz could also be made into a women's gown. The gown or jacket may have a matching petticoat of the same fabric but petticoats were usually not made of printed fabrics unless the upper garment is also of the print. Men's banyans were also made of chintz. For example in The Pennsylvania Gazette of 1776, "Run away . . .  a Dutch servant woman . . .  took with her one cotton chintz gown" is cited in Wenches, Wives and Servant Girls. Ivory linen thread 50/3 is a good match for hand sewing.

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Calico cotton swatch for 18th century reenactors, 18th century interior designs, and historic interpreters.

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Blue Trailing Vines
45" wide $19.99/yd.

Blue flowers with brown vines like this appear to be only slightly less common then red flowers among 18th century chintz fabrics. Reproduced from an original in the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum in Colonial Williamsburg chintz were often used to make women's gowns or jackets. The gown or jacket may have a matching petticoat of the same fabric but petticoats were usually not made of printed fabrics unless the upper garment is also of the print. Men's banyans were also made of chintz. For example in The New York Gazetter of 1773, "Run away . . .  a negro wench . . .  before she went off she took away a large quantity of chintz gowns" is cited in Wenches, Wives and Servant Girls. Off white linen thread is a good match for hand sewing.

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Calico cotton swatch for 18th century reenactors, 18th century interior designs, and historic interpreters.

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Cotton chintz fabric swatch repeating part of an original 18th century design for 18th century reenactors, historic home upholstery, and museum interpreters.

Trailing Blossoms
45" wide, $19.99/yd.

Chintz with red flowers and blue buds continue with a very common color combination of 18th century chintz. Reproduced from an original in the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum in Colonial Williamsburg chintz were often used to make women's gowns or jackets. The gown or jacket may have a matching petticoat of the same fabric but petticoats were usually not made of printed fabrics unless the upper garment is also of the print. Men's banyans were also made of chintz. For example in The American Journal of 1781, "the House of the Subscriber . . .  was broken open, and the following Articles were stolen, viz. One Chintz Gown" is cited in Wenches, Wives and Servant Girls. Ivory linen thread is a good match for hand sewing.

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Red Trailing Vines
45" wide $19.99/yd.

Red flowers with brown vines like this appear to be a common theme among 18th century chintz fabrics. Reproduced from an original in the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum in Colonial Williamsburg cotton chintz were often used to make women's gowns or jackets. The gown or jacket may have a matching petticoat of the same fabric but petticoats were usually not made of printed fabrics unless the upper garment is also of the print. Men's banyans were also made of chintz. For example in The Pennsylvania Gazette of 1777, "Run away . . .  a servant woman . . .  had on, and took with her, a light chintz gown" is cited in Wenches, Wives and Servant Girls. Ivory linen thread 80/3 is a good match for hand sewing.

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Calico cotton swatch for 18th century reenactors, 18th century interior designs, and historic interpreters.

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