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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Ling
59" wide $39.95/yd.

True block prints have imperfections in the printing process that can't be reproduced otherwise giving this all the right charector that will make you stand out from the crowd. Calicos being of a one color on white was of the most affordable printed cottons available during the 18th century. Although it is copied from the lining of an altar frontal originally in Arboga City Church in Vastmanland, Sweden originating in India from the early 17th century it is very similar to a print found on page 18 of Threads of Feeling . Judging from runaway descriptions red was a very common one color print. For example among the many red and white calicos is one described in The Virginia Gazette of 1773 "Run away . . .  a Country born Negro Woman . . .  She carried with her several Changes of Apparel, among which are remembered a red and white Calico Jacket and Petticoat" cited in Wenches, Wives and Servant Girls. This fabric is a true block print with all the imperfections seen with this early technology.

Printed cottons were often used to make women's gowns and 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. White 35/2 linen thread will work well for hand sewing this fabric.

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Calico cotton swatch.
Post by Wm. Booth, Draper at the Sign of the Unicorn.
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Historically accurate reproduction 18th century printed cotton fabric swatch for 18th century re-enactors, reproduction 18th-century upholstery, and historic museum interpreters.

Dorotea
59" wide, $39.95/yd.

Block printed fabrics have imperfections that make a block print distinctly different from modern fabrics. The misalignments of the stems, pressing too hard or not hard enough all provide the character of this wonderful art form. This block print dated to c. 1800 and is copied from a print used in an apron found in Langserud parish, Varmland, Sweden and now in the collection of Varmland's Museum, Karlstad. It has brown vines with small rusty red flowers. Pinted 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 and somtimes waistcoats were also made of printed fabrics. For example included in The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, London, a man in a theft trial "was indicted for feloniously stealing . . .  one printed cotton gown, value 5 s." White linen thread 80/3 is a good match for hand sewing.

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Brown Currant
59" wide $35.95/yd.

Mid 18th century prints like this were printed on an uneven cotton thread and were originally intended as lining material. Nonetheless, this sort of design was used for both clothing and home furnishing and our reproduction is printed on an even cotton. Copied from the lining of a quilted bed cover kept in the collection of Linnaeus' Hammarby, owned by Uppsala University Art Collections this reproduction is printed in the original colors of brown, red and white. The pattern includes white sprigs with white and red flowers and berries on a brown ground. Being a two color print it was affordable by most economic levels in the second half of the 18th century.

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 and sometimes waistcoats were also made of printed fabrics. In The Pennsylvania Gazette of 1771, "Run away . . .  an Irish servant woman . . .  she is a good seamstress, and professes to be a mantua maker; had on, and took with her. . . [a] redish calicoe gown" as 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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Kaprifol
59" wide $39.95/yd.

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 Wythe House
45" wide $19.99/yd.

newA new print for the lower sort!

Red on off white prints were only slightly less common than purple and blue in the 18th century but still made up a significant proportion of the inexpensive cotton prints described in runaway descriptions and commonly seen in The Foundling Museum's Billet Books. Red Wythe House is reproduced from an original in the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum in Colonial Williamsburg. 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 Pennsylvania Gazette of 1775, "Run away . . .  an Irish servant woman . . .  had on, when she went off, a gown with large red flowers" as cited in Wenches, Wives and Servant Girls. Off white 60/2 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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Blue Wythe House
45" wide $19.99/yd.

newA new print in a dark indigo blue!

Being a one color print on off white this is of the most affordable printed cottons available during the 18th century. This print is reproduced from an original in the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum in Colonial Williamsburg. Judging from runaway descriptions blue was a very common one color print. For example among the many blue and white calicos is one described in The Pennsylvania Chronicle of 1772 "Ran away . . .  an indented servant woman . . .  had on when she went away, a . . .  blue and white figured callico gown" cited in Wenches, Wives and Servant Girls.

Printed cottons were often used to make women's gowns and 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 waistcoats and banyans were also made of printed fabrics. Off white linen thread 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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Purple Blots
45" wide $19.99/yd.

newPurple on an ivory ground was a very common print!

Purple on an ivory ground were among the most common printed fabrics in the 18th century. They are repeatedly described in runaway descriptions and are the most numerable prints in The Foundling Museum's Billet Books. Purple blots is reproduced from an original in the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum in Colonial Williamsburg. 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 Pennsylvania Gazette of 1774, "Run away . . .  a servant girl . . .  had on, and took with her . . .  a callicoe gown, striped with a little purple flower, a good deal wore" as cited in Wenches, Wives and Servant Girls. Off white 60/2 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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Historically accurate reproduction 18th century printed cotton fabric swatch for 18th century re-enactors, reproduction 18th-century upholstery, and historic museum interpreters.

Daisy
59" wide, $35.95/yd.

The original printed fabric was used to make a shortgown, which is lined with off-white linen and has sleeve facings in another print and is illustrated in Fitting and Proper by Sharon Ann Burnston, p. 23.

Typical of those from the 1780s to 1790s, this print has small black flowers and a brown striped ground as was the original. Printed cotton like this is ideal for late American Revolution up to 1830s gowns or jackets and petticoats (if accompanied with the same printed gown). Men's banyans and sometimes waistcoats were also made of printed fabrics.

For example in The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, London 1782 "FRANCES FIELDING was indicted for stealing two printed cotton gowns, value 20 s." White linen thread 80/3 is a good match 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.

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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.

new Very colorful!

We could not resist this chintz with the many bright colors! Reproduced from an original 1730 to 1800 chintz in the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum in Colonial Williamsburg chintz like this 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. Off white linen thread is a good match for hand sewing.

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Blossoms and Buds
45" wide $19.99/yd.

newCan we really have enough chintz?

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 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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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.

India Garden
45" wide, $19.99/yd.

new Another gorgeous chintz!

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.

newCan we really have enough chintz?

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

Borg Verhildersum Dark Brown
60" wide, $29.95/yd.

Chintz was used to make women's gowns and jackets. The gown or jacket may have a matching petticoat but petticoats were usually not made of chintz unless the upper garment is also of the chintz. Men's Banyans were also made of chintz. Chintz was also used as bed covers and in the late 17th to early 18th century as wall hangings.

For example in The New Jersey Journal of 1781 an ad included "Ran away . . .  a Negro Wench . . .  had on or took with her a dark brown chintz gown" cited in Wenches, Wives and Servant Girls. Black linen thread 80/3 is a good match for hand sewing.

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Blue Trailing Vines
45" wide $19.99/yd.

newA new, very pretty chintz!

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 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. 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.

new Vine prints were very common in the 18th century!

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 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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Red Trailing Vines
45" wide $19.99/yd.

newCould you see yourself wearing this?

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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