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

Silk Fabric | Cotton Fabric

Silk Fabric

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100% Silk, 55 1/2" wide
Dark Grey Silk Taffeta WSV 185
$25.95/yd.

newTo make, mitts, bonnet or covered hat!

Although not a true black being a dark grey color, black silk taffeta was very commonly used to make mitts, city women's cloaks, silk bonnets and for covering chip hats throughout the 18th century. Black taffeta was sometimes used for women's mitts, gowns, and jackets. Men wore taffeta as jackets, coats and waistcoats. Cited in Wives, Slaves, and Servant Girls a newspaper ad in the 1775 Pennsylvania Gazette included "Run away . . .  an indented Irish servant girl . . .  she had on, and took with her, a . . .  new black taffaty bonnet". For hand sewing try black quilter's silk.

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100% Silk, 54" wide
Green and Yellow Stripe Satin WSV 139
$20/yd.

Silk fabric with a simple alternating pattern could make a strong statement as a gentlemen’s waistcoat and coat as well as a lady's petticoat, gown or jacket. Silk garments were in the possession of the poor as well as the wealthy such as in this Pennsylvania Gazette ad of 1781, "Ran Away . . .  a Negroe Woman . . .  She had a variety of clothes, among which are . . .  a striped silk jacket" as cited in Wives, Slaves, and Servant Girls. Ivory silk thread will work well for hand sewing this silk.

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100% Silk, 54" wide
Green Striped Satin WSV 155
$20/yd.

This asymmetrical wide stripe satin is on a changeable green to light brown taffeta that could be used for a gentlemen’s waistcoat and coat or a lady's petticoat, gown or jacket. Silk garments were often stolen as in The Proceedings of the Old Bailey recorded in 1779 of a man and a woman who "were indicted, the first for feloniously stealing . . .  three striped silk gowns, value 28 s." Several colors of silk quilter's thread would be possible for button holes depending on the look you want.

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Pure silk taffeta for 17th century to the present reenactors, nautical historians and museum interpreters.

Claret and Gold Changeable Stripe, 100% Silk, 54" wide, $15/yd.
WSV 156

This simple stripe has a 7 3/4 inch stripe of gold and a 7 3/4 inch stripes of claret alternating. Each claret stripe changes to gold. This wide stripe taffeta could be used for a gentlemen’s waistcoat and coat or a lady's petticoat, gown or jacket. Silk garments were often stolen as in The Proceedings of the Old Bailey recorded in 1685 of a man "was Indicted for Stealing 19 Yards of striped Silk, value 4 l." Claret silk quilter's thread could be used for making buttonholes in this silk.

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100% Silk, 45" wide
Red Persian WSV 109
$20.00/yd.

Scarlet red silk as fine as this was used for neck handkerchiefs, and linings. Cited in Wives, Slaves, and Servant Girls The Pennsylvania Packet, of 1771, "Run away . . .  an Irish servant woman . . .  talks a little on the brogue, is full of impudence, loves strong liquor, and will get drunk, when she has an opportunity; she is a good seamstress, and professes to be a mantua maker; had on, and took with her . . .  red silk handkerchief".

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100% Silk, 44" wide
Claret Colored Persian WSV 165
$14.99/yd.

Claret silk as fine as this was used for neck handkerchiefs, and linings. For example in Wives, Slaves and Servant Girls there is an ad from The Virginia Gazette of 1774 that includes "Run away . . .  two convict servant women . . .  [one of them] took with her . . .  coloured handkerchiefs".

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100% Silk, 45" wide
Blue Persian WSV 180
$14.99/yd.

Blue silk as fine as this was used for neck handkerchiefs, and linings such as women's bonnets or chip (straw) hats. For example in Wives, Slaves, and Servant Girls there is an ad from The Pennsylvania Chronicle of 1770 that includes "Absconded from her master’s service . . .  an English servant girl . . .  Had on and took away with her . . .  a black sattin bonnet lined with blue persian".

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100% Silk, 45" wide
Brown Persian WSV 108
$20/yd.

Brown silk as fine as this was used for neck handkerchiefs, linings and sometimes lining women's bonnets or chip (straw) hats. . Cited in Wives, Slaves, and Servant Girls The Pennsylvania Packet, of 1778, "Ran Away . . .  an indented girl . . .  country born . . .  had on and took with her, a brown silk bonnet".

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100% Silk, 45" wide
Gold Persian WSV 104
$20/yd.

Gold silk fabric as fine as this was used for neck handkerchiefs and as a lining. Persian was used for lining women's bonnets or chip (straw) hats. In The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, London of 1767, "Richard Griffiths, and Mary his wife, otherwise Mary Pitt, spinster, otherwise Anne Taylor, spinster, were indicted for burglariously breaking and entering the dwelling-house of Anne Nevell, widow . . .  and stealing . . .  a coloured silk handkerchief, the property of the said Anne Nevell".

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100% Silk, 45" wide
White Persian WSV 102
$20/yd.

This fine white silk was primarily used as a lining and hem facinings on women's gowns. White silk as fine as this can also be used for neck handkerchiefs, and men's cravats (aka neck cloths) and neck stocks. Sometimes Persian was used for lining women's bonnets or chip (straw) hats. In The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, London in 1758, "Arthur Hambleton was indicted for stealing . . .  one white silk lining to a gown". For hand sewing try fine white silk thread.

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100% Silk, 45" wide
Black Persian WSV 100
$22.99/yd.

Fine black silk fabric was commonly used as a lining material but may also be used for neck handkerchiefs, the linings of women's bonnets and chip (straw) hats. It may also be used for men's cravats (aka neck cloths) and neck stocks. In The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, London of 1775, "CHARLES M'GINNIS and ANN his wife, were indicted for stealing . . .  a piece of black silk lining, value two pence; a piece of black silk, value six-pence". For hand sewing try fine black silk thread.

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Cotton Fabric

100% Cotton, Crimson Red Manchester Velvet, 58" wide, WCN 334
$11.50/yd.

Crimson red velvet resulted because of some difficulties in dying velvet in bright shades of red early on. Cotton velvet spread rapidly after about the 1750s (possibly much earlier) and were known as "Manchester goods". Manchester velvets were used in the 18th century for men's waistcoats and jackets but became especially popular for men's breeches. Velvets were also used for cuffs, collars and facings on coats and for women's shoes. In the early 19th century velvet was used for women's outerwear such as spencers but also in trims and accessories. For example in the 1775 Connecticut Courant an ad included, "Stolen . . .  one surtout with a red velvet cape" cited in personal communication with Mike Barbieri. Scarlet linen thread is the closest match to this fabric. Crimson quilter's thread matches well for sewing button holes.

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100% Cotton, Buff Corduroy, 60" wide, 12 wales/inch, WCN 349
$9.95/yd.

new Sharp!

Corduroy was first advertised in London in 1756 but did not become popular until the late 1780s. This corduroy has 12 wales per inch with almost a silvery shine. From the late 1780s and into the 19th century corduroy was commonly used for working class men’s waistcoats breeches and tousers and children's clothing but could also be used for a regency woman's spencer. For example in The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, London in 1788 a man was "was indicted for burglariously and feloniously breaking and entering" a list of items were stolen including "a pair of corduroy breeches, value 10 s." Unbleached linen thread for hand sewing will match this fabric as will buff silk quilter's thread for sewing button holes.

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100% Cotton, Brown Stripe Corduroy, 51" wide, 11 wales/inch, WCN 310
$9.95/yd.

new A stripe corcuroy!

Corduroy was first advertised in London in 1756 but did not become popular until the late 1780s. This corduroy has 11 wales per inch with woven alternating brown and dark brown stripes within the very subtle wales. From the late 1780s and into the 19th century corduroy was commonly used for working class men’s waistcoats breeches and tousers and children's clothing but could also be used for women's outerwear such as spencers but also in trims and accessories. For example in The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, London in 1788 a man was "was indicted for burglariously and feloniously breaking and entering" a list of items were stolen including "a pair of corduroy breeches, value 10 s." Light brown linen thread for hand sewing will match this fabric. For buttonholes you might use brown silk quilter's thread to go along with the darker stripes.

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Sheer sprigged cotton for 19th century to the present reenactors, nautical historians and museum interpreters.

100% Cotton, Yellow Flowered Muslin, 44" wide, $15/yd. $10/yd.
WCN 346

This yellow muslin has the same yellow woven into vines with leaves and flowers. Muslin began being imported to Europe in the 17th century and some said they were so fine you could hardly feel them in your hand. Sprigged muslin first appears in quantity toward the end of the American War for Independence and soon was used in making empire style gowns, handkerchiefs and chemisettes. In the The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, London of 1813, a witness said, "they asked for some sprigged muslin. I shewed them some muslins myself; at the same time I was shewing another customer some handkerchiefs. I left the customer to shew them the muslin, and while I turned round to fell the price of the handkerchief, Jones took the muslin. I missed the muslin in about five minutes after. Q. What was the quantity of that piece of muslin that was missed - A. Five yards. That was sprigged muslin. I asked them six shillings a yard for it. Jones went out of the shop, telling Williams that they were cheap." Canary yellow linen thread for hand sewing will be the closest match.

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Sheer sprigged cotton for 19th century to the present reenactors, nautical historians and museum interpreters.

100% Cotton, Orange Flowered Muslin, 44" wide, $15/yd. $10/yd.
WCN 347

This orange muslin has the same yellow woven into vines with leaves and flowers. Muslin began being imported to Europe in the 17th century and some said they were so fine you could hardly feel them in your hand. Sprigged muslin first appears in quantity toward the end of the American War for Independence and soon was used in making empire style gowns, handkerchiefs and chemisettes. In the The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, London of 1813, a witness said, "they asked for some sprigged muslin. I shewed them some muslins myself; at the same time I was shewing another customer some handkerchiefs. I left the customer to shew them the muslin, and while I turned round to fell the price of the handkerchief, Jones took the muslin. I missed the muslin in about five minutes after. Q. What was the quantity of that piece of muslin that was missed - A. Five yards. That was sprigged muslin. I asked them six shillings a yard for it. Jones went out of the shop, telling Williams that they were cheap." Canary yellow linen thread for hand sewing will be the closest match.

Add Orange Flowered Muslin WCN 347 to Cart

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100% Cotton, Ivory Striped Cotton Gauze, 45" wide
WCC 107
$10/yd.

new Back in stock!

Very sheer cotton gauze was used in the 18th century for lady's aprons and handkerchiefs. Later it was used for the lightweight empire style gowns of the Napolionic period. For example in The New York Gazette, of 1775, "Run away . . .  in the city of New York . . .  a servant girl . . .  born in Scotland, and came from there thirteen months ago . . .  had on and took with her . . .  four handkerchiefs, one a red and white speckled cotton, a gauze, a linen, and one a lawn" is cited in Wives, Slaves, and Servant Girls. Off white 60/2 linen thread will match this fabric when hand sewing or try very fine white silk thread. The picture is taken on a black background with the penny on top and a slight fold to give you an idea of how sheer this cotton is.

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100% Italian Cotton Book Muslin, White, 45" wide
WCN 111
$16.99/yd.

This fine Italian cotton is perfect for ruffled and pleated caps and fine ruffles on shirts! Today this fabric is called organdy, but historically was a type of muslin often referred to as book muslin. Italian book muslin is a medium grade and one step up from that listed as just book muslin. This fine stiff cotton was used to make shirt and shift ruffles, women's caps, aprons, and handkerchiefs starting in about the 1760s and continuing to the present. Book muslin has a crisp look and holds its shape well. In the The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, London of 1784, one woman "was indicted for feloniously stealing . . .  one book muslin half handkerchief, value 6 d." For hand sewing use 60/2 linen thread or fine silk thread.

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100% Cotton Book Muslin, White, 61" wide
WCN 110
$10.00/yd.

White cotton book muslin is now called organdy but was historically referred to as book muslin because when folded on a bolt it has the appearance of pages of paper. This fine stiff cotton was used to make shirt and shift ruffles, women's caps, aprons, and handkerchiefs starting in the 1760s and continuing to the present. Book muslin has a crisp look and holds its shape well. In The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, London of 1770, a number of villains "were indicted, the first for breaking and entering the dwelling-house of James Wood . . .  and stealing . . .  a pair of book muslin ruffles, value 3 s." For hand sewing 60/2 linen thread will work well.

Silks | Cottons

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