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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Red Wythe House
45" wide $19.99/yd.

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.

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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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.

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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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.

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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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 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.

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.

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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