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

Basic Linen fabric | Solid Color Linen Fabric | Check and Stripe Linen Fabric

Solid Color Linen Fabric

100% linen
unless otherwise noted

Although linen fabric was usually white or unbleached occasionally colors are found. Linen worn in the 18th century were usually shades of brown, blue, grey, and earthy greens. Linen was more difficult to dye than either wool or silk, both of which are available in a myriad of colors. Much of the information on these pages is gathered from Swatches: A Guide to Choosing 21st Century Fabrics for 18th Century Clothing which has swatches you can feel and for a wider view of fabrics imported to the Americas try Textiles in America 1650-1870.

Below are some of the common 18th century colors we carry but many others revolve through our stock, please contact us for swatches, colors will vary with individual monitors. We have 50/3 linen thread in a variety of colors. If you ask we will do our best to match the thread to the color of the linen. Often times unbleached linen thread in 60/2 blends in well with most colors. Even on extant garments thread color did not match perfectly or unbleached was used.

Basic Linen Fabric | Solid Color Linen Fabric | Check and Stripe Linen Fabric

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Light Mint Coloured WLN 607

55% linen, 45% cotton, 7.5 oz., 56" wide, $8.99/yd.

Being almost white this has a hint of mint green color in this medium weight linen. This linen is a good weight weight for women's jackets, gowns and petticoats, and men's jackets, waistcoats and coats. In The 1773 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica it states that "green be the most frequent and most common of natural colors, yet there is no simple ingredient now used alone to dye green upon any material, sap green being the nearest, which is used by country people." However in 1772 a "Dr. William" petitioned the English house of commons claiming to have invented permanent yellow and green dyes for cotton and linen. Off white 35/2 linen thread is the closest match for hand sewing.

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Linen fabric swatch for 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th century reenactors and museum interpreters.
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Light Greenish Blue WLN 670

100% linen, 7.5 oz., 55" wide, $14.00/yd.

new New!

This weight would work well for outer garments such as men's coats, jackets waistcoats or trousers and women's jackets, and gowns, and petticoats. In The Pennsylvania Gazette of 1775, "Run away . . .  an Irish servant girl . . .  Had on, and took with her . . .  a black quilted petticoat, greenish lining" as cited in Wives, Slaves, and Servant Girls. Since no thread really matches this, the best for hand sewing is unbleached 35/2 linen thread.

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Linen fabric swatch for 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th century reenactors and museum interpreters.
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Dark Greenish Gray WLN 671

100% linen, 7.5 oz., 55" wide, $14.00/yd.

new New!

This weight would work well for outer garments such as men's coats, jackets waistcoats or trousers and women's jackets, and gowns, and petticoats. In The Pennsylvania Gazette of 1775, "Run away . . .  an Irish servant girl . . .  Had on, and took with her . . .  a black quilted petticoat, greenish lining" as cited in Wives, Slaves, and Servant Girls. Gray 35/2 linen thread is a bit lighter than this fabric but should blend well.

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Linen fabric swatch for 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th century reenactors and museum interpreters.
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Dark Olive Green WLN 679

100% linen, ~5 oz., 57" wide, $12.00/yd.

new New!

In The 1773 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica it states that "green be the most frequent and most common of natural colors, yet there is no simple ingredient now used alone to dye green upon any material, sap green being the nearest, which is used by country people." However in 1772 a "Dr. William" petitioned the English house of commons claiming to have invented permanent yellow and green dyes for cotton and linen. Despite all of this “Michael Brown Silk-Dyer from London” set up shop in Philadelphia. In 1744, Mr. Brown advertised in the Pennsylvania Gazette that he would turn “Linnen and Cotton dyed blue, green, or yellow”. Green linen thread 50/3 is a bit of a richer green for hand sewing.

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Linen fabric swatch for 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th century reenactors and museum interpreters.
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Olive Drill WLN 615

100% Linen, ~12 oz., 57" wide, $21.99/yd.

Drill and drilling were terms used for twill weave fabrics. This very durable drill is a thick, tight weave and we specifically had breeches in mind when we choose this fabric. It may also work well for a working class coat, jacket or waistcoats. Shared from personal communication with Mike Barbieri, The Connecticut Courant in 1776, included an ad with "Ran away . . .  a prisoner . . .  Had on . . .  a pair drilling breeches." Unbleached 35/2 linen thread will blend with the color of this linen.

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Linen fabric swatch for 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th century re-enactors and museum interpreters.
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Green WLG 167

100% Linen, 6.5 oz., 60" wide, $14.50/yd.

In The 1773 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica it states that "green be the most frequent and most common of natural colors, yet there is no simple ingredient now used alone to dye green upon any material, sap green being the nearest, which is used by country people." However in 1772 a "Dr. William" petitioned the English house of commons claiming to have invented permanent yellow and green dyes for cotton and linen. During the War of 1812 some US rifle regiments wore green hunting frocks. Although some regiments prefer hunter green others prefer this olive green. Green linen thread 50/3 is an almost perfect match for hand sewing.

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Linen fabric swatch for 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th century reenactors and museum interpreters.
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Bluish Green WLN 606

100% Linen, ~6 oz., 60" wide, $11.00/yd.

Although there is considerable confusion as to what color copperas was, this is one of the many possible shades. This linen is a good weight for men's trousers, coats, jackets and waistcoats. It will also work for sturdy laboring women's gowns, jackets and petticoats. For example in The Newport Mercury of 1764, "Ran away . . .  an Indented Servant Man . . .  a Blacksmith and Farrier by Trade . . .  had then on a green Jacket" as cited in personal communication with Mike Barbieri. Medium green 50/3 linen thread is a bit greener but the best match to this linen.

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Linen fabric swatch for 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th century re-enactors and museum interpreters.
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Reddish Brown WLG 203

100% Linen, 6.5 oz., 60" wide, $14.50/yd.

This is a bit of an unusual natural cinnamony brown with a hint of a pinky red color that would make a distinctive gown or waistcoat. For example in The Pennsylvania Mercury and Universal Advertiser of 1775, "Run away . . .  an English woman . . .  now a servant . . .  had on, . . .  [an] old patched reddish colour'd gown" as cited in Wives, Slaves, and Servant Girls. Unbleached 35/2 linen thread is the best match to this linen.

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Linen fabric swatch for 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th century re-enactors and museum interpreters.
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Brown WLN 629

100% Linen, ~6 oz., 60" wide, $12.99/yd.

This brown has a hint of pink tones within it and will make a nice gown or petticoat or for a man a coat or waistcoats. For example in The Connecticut Journal of 1775, "ranaway, a Frenchman, lately from Canada . . .  had on a reddish brown lapped coat; lined with red, a vest of the same colour" as cited in personal communication with Mike Barbieri. Brown linen thread is the best match to this linen.

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Linen fabric 18th, and 19th century re-enactors and museum interpreters.
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Brown Drill WLN 587

100% Linen, ~12 oz., 57" wide, $21.99/yd.

Drill and drilling were terms used for twill weave fabrics. This very durable drill is a thick, tight weave and we specifically had breeches in mind when we choose this fabric. It may also work well for a working class coat, jacket or waistcoats. The New-London Gazette in 1772, included an ad with "Ran away . . .  a negro man slave . . .  had on . . .  a pair of brown drilling breeches." Brown linen thread will blend with the color of this linen.

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Linen fabric swatch for 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th century re-enactors and museum interpreters.
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Dark Chocolate Brown WLN 664

100% Linen, ~5 oz., 50" wide, $11.99/yd.

Unbleached linen in the 18th century was usually referred to as brown although some may argue it is dyed. This linen is a good weight for thin summer linings and waistcoats. It will also work for a summer laboring women's petticoat. In the book Wives, Slaves, and Servant Girls The Virginia Gazette in 1775, "Run away . . .  a likely mulatto girl . . .  had on when she went away a brown linen jacket and petticoat". Brown linen thread will blend with the color of this linen.

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Linen fabric swatch for 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th century reenactors and museum interpreters.
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Chocolate Coloured WLN 654

100% Linen, ~5 oz., 30" wide, $10.00/yd.

Limited stock!

This is Moygashel linen made in Ireland and is fine and smooth with a tight weave and few slubs. It does have a modern salvage on both sides. In The Boston Gazette in 1776 a suspect "RAN-away . . .  a servant . . .  had on when he went away, a . . .  chocolate coloured coat, Jacket and breeches" as cited in personal communication with Mike Barbieri. Brown linen thread will blend with the color of this linen.

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Linen fabric swatch for 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th century reenactors and museum interpreters.
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Post by Wm. Booth, Draper at the Sign of the Unicorn.

Chocolate Brown WLG 135

100% Linen, 7.5 oz., 60" wide, $15.00/yd.

Unbleached linen in the 18th century was usually referred to as brown although some may argue it is dyed. This 7 oz. linen has more body and is good for outer garments such as men's trousers, coats and waistcoats. For example in The Virginia Gazette in 1773, "a Cooper, born in Ireland carried with him, a brown Linen Coat, Jacket and Trousers". Brown 50/3 linen thread will blend with the color of this linen.

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Linen fabric swatch for 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th century reenactors and museum interpreters.
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Brown WLN 680

100% Linen, ~5 oz., 54" wide, $12.00/yd.

new A beautiful shade of brown!

This linen is a good weight for light summer waistcoats. It will also work for laboring women's gowns, jackets and petticoats. For example in The Norwich Packet of 1776, "Run-away . . .  a Negro Man . . .  Had on when he went away, a brown Linen Coat, with red Lapels, and Cape, and red Cuffs" as cited in personal communication with Mike Barbieri. Unbleached linen thread will blend well with this linen for hand sewing.

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Linen fabric swatch for 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th century re-enactors and museum interpreters.
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Light Tobacco Coloured WLN 669

100% linen, 7.5 oz., 56" wide, $14.00/yd.

new New!

This weight would work well for outer garments such as men's coats, jackets waistcoats or trousers and women's jackets, and gowns, and petticoats. Unbleached 35/2 linen thread is the best match for his linen.

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Linen fabric swatch for 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th century reenactors and museum interpreters.
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Faded Brown WLG 307

100% linen, ~6 oz., 57" wide, $13.99/yd.

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This weight is good for waistcoats and lighter weight coats. In The Boston Gazette in 1776 a suspect "RAN-away . . .  a servant . . .  had on when he went away, a . . .  chocolate coloured coat, Jacket and breeches" as cited in personal communication with Mike Barbieri. Since none of the threads are really in this range of color the best would be unbleached linen thread.

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Linen fabric swatch for 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th century reenactors and museum interpreters.
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Cinnamon Brown WLG 136

100% Linen, 7.5 oz., 60" wide, $15.00/yd.

Brown linen probably referred to the unbleached color of linen however some argue it is dyed. There are a number of extant stays from the 18th century that are made of cinnamon colored linen. In The Virginia Gazette in 1774, "RUN away . . .  two servant men, both born in England; one of them . . .  had on, and took with him, a brown shirt, [and] brown linen browsers". Beige 50/3 linen thread would be a suitable match to this linen.

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Linen fabric swatch for 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th century re-enactors and museum interpreters.
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Mustard WLG 131

100% Linen, 6.5 oz., 60" wide, $14.50/yd.

Osage orange (for early 19th century reenactors), golden rod, chicory and several other plants will make an earthy yellow very similar to this linen. For example in The Pennsylvania Gazette of 1773, "Run away . . .  an Irish servant woman . . .  had on . . .  a yellow under petticoat, with red binding" is cited in Wives, Slaves, and Servant Girls. Light brown or beige 50/3 linen thread would blend with the color of this linen.

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Linen fabric swatch for 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th century reenactors and museum interpreters.
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Yellow WLN 633

100% Linen, 6 oz., 59" wide, $12.99/yd.

Osage orange (for early 19th century reenactors), golden rod, chicory and several other plants will make an earthy yellow very similar to this linen that is made in Russia. For example in The Pennsylvania Gazette of 1773, "Run away . . .  an Irish servant woman . . .  had on . . .  a yellow under petticoat, with red binding" is cited in Wives, Slaves, and Servant Girls. Buff or unbleached 35/2 linen thread would blend with the color of this linen.

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Linen fabric swatch for 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th century reenactors and museum interpreters.
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Mustard WLN 631

100% Linen, ~5 oz., 60" wide, $12.99/yd.

Osage orange (for early 19th century reenactors), golden rod, chicory and several other plants will make an earthy yellow very similar to this linen. For example in The Pennsylvania Gazette of 1773, "Run away . . .  an Irish servant woman . . .  had on . . .  a yellow under petticoat, with red binding" is cited in Wives, Slaves, and Servant Girls. Buff or unbleached 35/2 linen thread would blend with the color of this linen.

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Linen fabric swatch for 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th century reenactors and museum interpreters.
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Yellow WLN 632

100% Linen, ~6 oz., 60" wide, $12.99/yd.

Osage orange (for early 19th century reenactors), golden rod, chicory and several other plants will make an earthy yellow very similar to this linen that is made in Russia. For example in The Pennsylvania Gazette of 1773, "Run away . . .  an Irish servant woman . . .  had on . . .  a yellow under petticoat, with red binding" is cited in Wives, Slaves, and Servant Girls. Buff or unbleached 35/2 linen thread would blend with the color of this linen.

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Linen fabric for 18th, and 19th century reenactors and museum interpreters.
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Light Drab Coloured WLN 666

100% linen, 7.5 oz., 56" wide, $14.00/yd.

new New!

In modern terms you might describe this linen as a tan on the yellow side or camel colored. This weight would work well for outer garments such as men's coats, jackets waistcoats or trousers and women's jackets, and gowns, and petticoats. Buff 35/2 linen thread is the best match for his linen.

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Linen fabric swatch for 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th century reenactors and museum interpreters.
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Light Wheat Straw Coloured WLN 667

100% linen, 7.5 oz., 56" wide, $14.00/yd.

new New!

This weight would work well for outer garments such as men's coats, jackets waistcoats or trousers and women's jackets, and gowns, and petticoats. Buff 35/2 linen thread is the best match for his linen.

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Linen fabric swatch for 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th century reenactors and museum interpreters.
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Straw Colour'd WLN 637

100% linen, ~5 oz., 57" wide, $12.99/yd.

This linen has a natural earthy color giving it an interesting look. Since it is not a bright color it is within the range of an off white linen shirt and may work better for someone who would like their shirt to remain a natural color. This linen could also be used to make a men's waistcoat or a woman's gown, jacket or petticoat. In The Pennsylvania Gazette of 1776, "Run away . . .  two Irish servant women, one . . .  had on, and took with them . . .  one old taffaty gown, of a straw colour". Buff 35/2 linen thread is the best match for his linen.

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Linen fabric swatch for 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th century reenactors and museum interpreters.
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Light Blue WLG 306

100% Linen, ~5 oz., 50" wide, $13.99/yd.

new New!

Although not very common, aprons and c. 1750s shirts are occasionally described as blue. For example in London's The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, of 1791 "JONATHAN STUBBS was indicted for stealing . . .  thirty-three yards and three quarters of blue linen, value 1 l. 18 s." Light blue 35/2 linen thread is the closest match to this linen.

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Linen fabric swatch for 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th century reenactors and museum interpreters.
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Light Blue WLN 665

100% Linen, ~5 oz., 59" wide, $12.99/yd.

Limited stock!

Although not very common, aprons and c. 1750s shirts are occasionally described as blue. For example in London's The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, of 1791 "JONATHAN STUBBS was indicted for stealing . . .  thirty-three yards and three quarters of blue linen, value 1 l. 18 s." Light blue 35/2 linen thread is the closest match to this linen.

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Linen fabric swatch for 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th century reenactors and museum interpreters.
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Indigo Blue WLG 305

100% Linen, ~5 oz., 54" wide, $14.00/yd.

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Blue linen was occasionally used for aprons (probably male owners of alehouses and like establishments) and c. 1750s men's shirts. In The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, London a trial record printed in 1780 a suspect "was indicted for stealing a blue linen apron, value 1 s." Medium blue linen thread is a close match to this linen.

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Linen fabric swatch for 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th century reenactors and museum interpreters.
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Teal WLG 134

100% Linen, 6.5 oz., 60" wide, $14.50/yd.

Some linens were described as "copperas coloured". Copperas was used as both a dye and a mordant and there is considerable confusion as to what color copperas was. Nonetheless, this is one of the many possible shades of copperas. In 1796 "RUNAWAY . . .  an indented Apprentice . . .  He wore away a Copperas coloured Linen Jacket and Trowsers" was advertised in Rhode Island. Pale blue 50/3 linen thread is the closest match to this linen.

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Linen fabric swatch for 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th century reenactors and museum interpreters.
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Dark Indigo Blue Linen WLN 678

100% linen, 54" wide, $12.50/yd.

newNew!

Blue linen was occasionally used for aprons (probably male owners of alehouses and like establishments) and c. 1750s men's shirts. “Michael Brown Silk-Dyer from London” set up shop in Philadelphia. In 1744, Mr. Brown advertised in the Pennsylvania Gazette that he would turn “Linnen and Cotton dyed blue”. Navy blue linen thread will blend with the color of this linen.

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Linen fabric swatch for 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th century reenactors and museum interpreters.
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Dark Blue WLG 166

100% Linen, 7.5 oz., 60" wide, $15.00/yd.

During the War of 1812 blue linen hunting frocks were used by some US regiments of riflemen. This is the blue many of these regiments use. In The Proceedings of the Old Bailey criminal trials, London in 1779 "MARY JAMES and MARY COLD were indicted for breaking and entering the dwelling-house of Robert Tallworthy . . .  and stealing . . .  a blue linen apron, value 6 d." Navy blue 35/2 linen thread will work well when hand sewing this linen.

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Linen fabric swatch for 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th century reenactors and museum interpreters.

Basic Linen Fabric | Solid Color Linen Fabric | Check and Stripe Linen Fabric

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