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

Check and Stripe Linen Fabric

100% linen

Besides white and unbleached linen fabric the next most common described in 18th century documents are stripe and check linen fabric. These provided patterned fabric without the expense of block printing. Most common were blue on white then brown on white then mixes of those colors. After these (most common) colors, black, red, gray, yellow, and green were less common colors woven into checks and stripes. Much of the information on these pages is gathered from the book Textiles in America 1650-1870.

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

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Diaper Cloth WLN 105

100% Linen, ~10.5 oz., 59" Wide, $26.95/yd.

new A hard to find period fabric!

Birdseye weave made of linen was called diaper cloth in the 17th to 19th centuries. One of its primary uses was to make baby's clouts also called pilchers or pilches which ultimately resulted in American's word for baby's diapers. Diaper cloth was often used for table cloths, napkins and wash clouts but was also used to make children's pin cloths, men's breeches, jackets and waistcoats. In the 1775 The Connecticut Courant, an ad included "New-Gate Prison was broke up, and the following prisoners made the escape, viz. . . .  an Irishman . . .  wore a . . .  white diaper jacket" which is shared from personal communication with Mike Barbieri. Off white 35/2 linen thread 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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Blue and Natural Stripe Ticking WLG 155

100% Linen, 8.7 oz., 58" Wide, $25.50/yd.

Ticking in the 17th and 18th centuries was made of linen and could be either striped or white (natural). When striped it was usually blue and white (or natural). This ticking is unusual in that it has a herringbone weave although this is very subtle. Ticking was used to make bed ticks, bolsters and pillows but was also used to make men's breeches, trousers, waistcoats and jackets and women's pockets and stays. Ticking was also sometimes used as a lining. In the 1772 The Virginia Gazette, an ad included "RAN away . . .  Two Irish Convict Servant Men . . .  [the first] had on . . .  a Pair of coarse strip'd Ticken Breeches . . .  [and the other] had on . . .  a Pair of coarse Ticken Breeches". Unbleached 35/2 linen thread for hand sewing will work well.

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Linen fabric swatch for 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th century reenactors and museum interpreters.
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Red and Natural Stripe Ticking WLG 151

100% Linen, 8.7 oz., 58" Wide, $25.50/yd.

Ticking in the 17th and 18th centuries was made of linen and could be either striped or white (natural). When striped it was sometimes red and white (or natural). This ticking is unusual in that it has a herringbone weave although this is very subtle. Certain Hessian regiments during the American Revolution wore red stripe ticking gaitered trousers. Ticking was used to make bed ticks, bolsters and pillows but was also used to make men's breeches, trousers, waistcoats and jackets and women's pockets and stays. Ticking was also sometimes used as a lining. In the 1772 The Providence Gazette, an ad included "RAN away . . .  a Negro Man Servant . . .  had on and carried away with him . . .  one Pair new striped Ticken Trowsers". Unbleached 35/2 linen thread will work well 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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Brown and Natural Stripe Ticking WLG 159

100% Linen, 8.7 oz., 58" Wide, $25.50/yd.

Ticking in the 17th and 18th centuries was made of linen and could be either striped or white (natural). When striped it was usually blue and white (or natural). This ticking is unusual in that it has a herringbone weave although this is very subtle. Ticking was used to make bed ticks, bolsters and pillows but was also used to make men's breeches, trousers, waistcoats and jackets and women's pockets and stays. Ticking was also sometimes used as a lining. In the 1772 The Virginia Gazette, an ad included "RAN away . . .  Two Irish Convict Servant Men . . .  [the first] had on . . .  a Pair of coarse strip'd Ticken Breeches . . .  [and the other] had on . . .  a Pair of coarse Ticken Breeches". Unbleached 35/2 linen thread for hand sewing will work well.

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Linen fabric swatch for 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th century reenactors and museum interpreters.
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Wide Blue and Natural Stripe WLN 585

100% Linen, 60" Wide, $19.99/yd.

Blue and white stripes are some of the most commonly described in runaway accounts. They were commonly used for women's petticoats, jackets, and gowns. Men's waistcoats and shirts as well as an occasional lining were also made of blue and white stripe linen. In the 1776 Pennsylvania Gazette, an ad included "Was stolen . . .  a pair of blue and white striped trowsers" as cited in Wives, Slaves, and Servant Girls. White linen thread for hand sewing and white 1" cotton twill tape would work well for this material.

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Linen fabric swatch for 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th century reenactors and museum interpreters.
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Wide Blue and White Stripe WLN 584

100% Linen, 60" Wide, $19.99/yd.

Blue and white stripes are some of the most commonly described in runaway accounts. They were commonly used for women's petticoats, jackets, and gowns. Men's waistcoats and shirts as well as an occasional lining were also made of blue and white stripe linen. In the 1776 Pennsylvania Gazette, an ad included "Was stolen . . .  a pair of blue and white striped trowsers" as cited in Wives, Slaves, and Servant Girls. White linen thread for hand sewing and white 1" cotton twill tape would work well for this material.

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Linen fabric swatch for 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th century reenactors and museum interpreters.
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Light Indigo Blue Stripe WLN 581

100% Linen, 57" Wide, $19.99/yd.

This is a nice light indigo blue stripe all shades of which are the most commonly described in runaway accounts of the 18th and early 19th century. They were commonly used for women's petticoats, jackets, and gowns. Men's waistcoats and shirts as well as an occasional lining were also made of blue and white stripe linen. In the 1776 New York Journal, an ad included "Run away . . .  a Scotch servant . . .  had on when she went away, a homespun coat, a blue and white striped short gown" as cited in Wives, Slaves, and Servant Girls. Off white linen thread for hand sewing and white 1" cotton twill tape would work well for this material.

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Linen fabric swatch for 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th century reenactors and museum interpreters.
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Blue and White Stripe WLG 312

100% Linen, 60" Wide, $12.99/yd.

new New!

This linen has a 3/8" indigo blue stripe bound by a white pin stripe. This linen could be used to make a woman's petticoat, jacket, or gown although a man's waistcoat or shirt as well as linings may be made from this striped linen. For example advertised in The Connecticut Courant of 1770 "Run away . . .  a servant girl . . .  had on, and took with her . . .  two short loose gowns, the one striped linsey, the other striped linen" as cited in Wives, Slaves, and Servant Girls. Navy blue linen thread is a good 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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Blue and White Stripe 1/8" WLN 674

100% Linen, ~5 oz., 59" Wide, $15.99/yd.

Blue and white stripe linens dominate the 18th and early 19th century. This stripe linen would make a lite man's jacket or waistcoat but may also be used for linings and for women's gowns, jackets and petticoats. In the book Wives, Slaves, and Servant Girls there is an entry for 1781 in The American Journal, "the House of the Subscriber, in Cranston, was broken open, and the following Articles were stolen . . .  one striped Linen Petticoat" Off white linen thread will work well for hand sewing.

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Linen fabric for colonial clothing, 18th, and 19th century reenactors and museum interpreters.
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Blue and White Stripe WLN 691

100% Linen, 60" Wide, $16.99/yd.

Blue and white stripe linens dominate the 18th and early 19th century. This stripe linen would make a lite man's jacket or waistcoat but may also be used for linings and for women's gowns, jackets and petticoats. In the book Wives, Slaves, and Servant Girls there is an entry for 1781 in The American Journal, "the House of the Subscriber, in Cranston, was broken open, and the following Articles were stolen . . .  one striped Linen Petticoat" Off white linen thread will work well for hand sewing.

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Linen fabric for colonial clothing, 18th, and 19th century reenactors and museum interpreters.
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Blue and White Stripe 5/16" WLG 216

100% Linen, ~5 oz., 57" Wide, $19.99/yd.

Blue and white stripes are some of the most commonly described in runaway accounts and seen in swatch books. They were commonly used for women's petticoats, jackets, and gowns. Men's waistcoats and shirts as well as an occasional lining were also made of blue and white stripe linen. From personal communication with Mike Barbieri in the 1768 The New-London Gazette, an ad included "Run-away . . .  a Negro Woman . . .  carried off with her one home-spun check’d Woollen Gown, one blue and white striped Linen Ditto". White linen thread for hand sewing and white cotton twill tape would work well for this material.

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Linen fabric for colonial clothing, 18th, and 19th century reenactors and museum interpreters.
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Light Blue and White Stripe WLN 580

100% Linen, ~5 oz., 59" Wide, $19.99/yd.

This is a nice light indigo blue stripe all shades of which are the most commonly described in runaway accounts of the 18th and early 19th century. They were commonly used for women's petticoats, jackets, and gowns. Men's waistcoats and shirts as well as an occasional lining were also made of blue and white stripe linen. In the 1775 Pennsylvania Packet, an ad included "Run away . . .  an indented servant woman . . .  had on . . .  a blue and white striped short gown" as cited in Wives, Slaves, and Servant Girls. White linen thread for hand sewing and white 1" cotton twill tape would work well for this material.

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Linen fabric swatch for 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th century reenactors and museum interpreters.
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Indigo Blue Striped WLG 301

100% Linen, ~5 oz., 58" Wide, $19.99/yd.

new A dark common style of stripe!

This blue striped linen has an 1/8" dark indigo blue stripe with 3/8" creamy white which is identical to some seen in The Foundling Museum and in 18th century period artwork. Blue striped linen like this was commonly used for women's petticoats, jackets, and gowns. Men's waistcoats and shirts as well as an occasional lining were also made of blue and white striped linen. In 1769, The New-London Gazette reported "RUN away . . .  an apprentice Boy . . .  understands Tanning and Shoe-Making well . . .  had with him . . .  one white Holland Shirt, one check’d linnen Ditto, one strip’d Ditto and three check’d flannel Ditto" used from personal communication with Mike Barbieri. Off white 60/2 linen thread for hand sewing and white cotton twill tape would work well for this material.

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Linen fabric swatch for 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th century reenactors and museum interpreters.
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Indigo 1/8" Stripe WHP 107

55% Hemp/45% Organic Cotton, 8.5 oz., 58" Wide, $19.99/yd.

Blue and white stripe was very common for the laboring people throughout Europe and the New World. It is repeatedly described in runaway descriptions and several original garments are made of very similar linen. This hemp blend is tightly woven and prewashed. It has numerous uses. For women: petticoats, gowns and jackets. For men: waistcoats, jackets, shirts, trousers, breeches, work aprons, workmen's caps and outer breeches (commonly known as slops although this term actually refers to all unfitted clothing). Stripe linen is an excellent choice for children's clothing too. For example in The Pennsylvania Evening Post in 1777 "Ran away . . .  an Irish servant girl . . .  Had on, when she went away, a blue and white striped linen gown". Linen thread for hand sewing in 35/2 off white and 1" cotton twill tape natural, blue or navy blue all match this fabric well. Tape of matching color is often what is used as binding on women's petticoats and gowns.

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Linen fabric swatch for 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th century reenactors and museum interpreters.
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Blue, Drab and Natural Check WLN 330

100% Linen, 59" Wide, $14.99/yd.

Blue check linen was likely the most common check fabric produced during the 18th and into the early 19th century. It is repeatedly described in runaway ads. With the density of color seen in this fabric it's more representative of what is found later in the early 19th century. This fabric can be made into women's aprons and men's shirts but may also be used for linings and occasionally for women's gowns (usually Negros), trousers or even bonnets. In the 1773 Newport Mercury, "Ran away . . .  an indented Irish maid servant . . .  and is supposed to have had on . . .  a checked apron" as cited in Wives, Slaves, and Servant Girls. Off white 35/2 linen thread will work well for hand sewing.

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Check linen fabric swatch for 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th century historic reenactors and museum interpreters.
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Blue 1/2" Check WLN 647

100% Linen, 58" Wide, $19.99/yd.

Blue check linen was likely the most common check fabric produced during the 18th and into the early 19th century. It is repeatedly described in runaway ads. With the density of color seen in this fabric it's more representative of what is found later in the early 19th century. This fabric can be made into women's aprons and men's shirts but may also be used for linings and occasionally for women's gowns (usually Negros), trousers or even bonnets. In the 1773 Newport Mercury, "Ran away . . .  an indented Irish maid servant . . .  and is supposed to have had on . . .  a checked apron" as cited in Wives, Slaves, and Servant Girls. Off white 35/2 linen thread will work well for hand sewing.

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Check linen fabric swatch for 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th century historic reenactors and museum interpreters.
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Blue, Light Blue and White Check WLN 692

100% Linen, 58" Wide, $12.99/yd.

new New!

Some 18th century check linens were woven with two shades of blue. This linen has a dark indigo blue and a light blue in a subtle asymmetric check. Blue and white checks are the most common found in runaway descriptions and swatch books from the 18th to early 19th century. This fabric was commonly made into women's aprons and men's shirts but may also be used for linings and occasionally for women's gowns (usually Negros), trousers or even bonnets. In the 1770 Virginia Gazette, "Run away . . .  an English servant woman . . .  took with her . . .  several aprons, one of them check linen" as cited in Wives, Slaves, and Servant Girls. White 35/2 linen thread will work well for hand sewing.

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Check linen fabric swatch for 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th century historic reenactors and museum interpreters.
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Blue and White Check WLN 683

100% Linen, ~5 oz., ~58" Wide, $15.95/yd.

new A new check!

Most checks available today are half white and half blue. The majority of checks found in the billet books at The Foundling Museum in London are mostly white with narrower blue stripes making this check far more common throughout the 18th century than many other checks. This fabric was commonly made into women's aprons and men's shirts but may also be used for linings and occasionally for women's gowns or even bonnets. In the 1770 Pennsylvania Gazette, "Run away . . .  an English servant woman . . .  took with her . . .  several aprons, one of them check linen" as cited in Wenches, Wives and Servant Girls. White 60/2 linen thread will work well for hand sewing.

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Check linen fabric swatch for colonial clothing.
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Blue and White Check WLG 181

100% Linen, ~6.5 oz., ~58" Wide, $19.99/yd.

Reproduction check with an American provenance!

This check linen is woven based on our research of check linens made and used in the 18th and early 19th century America and England. This weight is suitable for working class shirts and aprons. Although not copied from any one original, it is extremely similar to several original check linens for example see Figure 15 of the book Threads of Feeling, see samples 6, 14, 35, 40, 43, 47, 56, 58, 89, and 90 of the 1771 Textile sample book of the Manchester manufacturing firm of Benjamin and John Bower. Most checks available today are half white and half blue. The majority of checks found in the billet books at The Foundling Museum in London are mostly white with narrower blue stripes resulting in a check many modern people would think of more as a plaid. This fabric was commonly made into women's aprons and men's shirts but may also be used for linings and occasionally for women's gowns (usually Negros), trousers or even bonnets. In the 1776 Connecticut Courant, "RAN AWAY . . .  a Mustee Fellow . . .  had on when he went off . . .  a check linen shirt blue and white" from personal communication with Mike Barbieri. Off white 60/2 or 35/2 linen thread will work well for hand sewing.

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Check linen fabric swatch for colonial clothing.
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Red and White Check WLN 677

100% Linen, ~5 oz., 59" Wide, $15.99/yd.

This linen has intersecting stripes of dark red, the size of the lines are extremely similar to several original check linens found in museums. Most checks available today are half white and half red. The majority of checks found in the billet books at The Foundling Museum in London are mostly white with narrower stripes. This fabric could be made into specific ethnic women's aprons, children's clothing, but may also be used for linings and occasionally for women's gowns (usually Negros). For example in London's The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, of 1805 a woman "was indicted for feloniously stealing . . .  a cotton frock, value 2 s." Later a question was asked "Had any part of the clothes been taken from it?" The answer came as "Yes, a white dimity petticoat, and a red check frock". White 35/2 linen thread will work well for hand sewing.

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Check linen fabric swatch for 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th century historic reenactors and museum interpreters.
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Tow Check WLN 609

100% Linen, 61" Wide, $16.00/yd.

This check linen is almost identical to one made into a pillowcase on page 53 of the book Cloth and Costume. Check linen was commonly used as household linens, made into men's shirts but may also be used for linings and occasionally for women's gowns, trousers or even bonnets. In personal communication with Mike Barbieri there is an ad published in the 1768 Connecticut Journal, including "Run-away . . .  a Shoe maker, and Apprentice . . .  had on and carried with him . . .  two white Tow Shirts, one Check ditto. " Unbleached 35/2 linen thread will work well for hand sewing.

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Check linen fabric for colonial clothing.
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Brown and White Check WLG 191

100% Linen, 6.5 oz., 58" Wide, $19.99/yd.

This check linen is woven based on a pattern of our research of check linens made and used in the 18th and early 19th century America and England. The original was a blue on white but this is otherwise similar to several original check linens found in swatch books. Most checks available today are half white and half brown. The majority of checks found in the billet books at The Foundling Museum in London are mostly white with narrower stripes resulting in a check many modern people would think of more as a plaid. This fabric can possibly be used to make men's shirts but may also be used for linings and occasionally for women's gowns (usually Negros). In the 1769 Boston Evening Post, "Run away . . .  two indented Men Servants, the one . . .  Had on when he went away, a check’d Linen Shirt" from personal communication with Mike Barbieri. Off white 35/2 linen thread will work well for hand sewing.

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Check linen fabric swatch for colonial clothing, 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th century historic reenactors and museum interpreters.
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Grey Check WLN 693

100% Linen, ~4 oz., 54" Wide, $12.95/yd.

new A new check!

Usually period check linens have very narrow stripes of color. This linen could be used for household linens or a lining. Sometimes women's petticoats, jackets, and gowns were made of check linen. A man's waistcoats. For example advertised in The Virginia Gazette of 1770 "Run away . . .  a servant woman . . .  she had on an old check bedgown" as cited in Wives, Slaves, and Servant Girls. Off white 60/2 linen thread for hand sewing would work well for this material.

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Check linen fabric swatch for colonial clothing, 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th century historic reenactors and museum interpreters.
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Dark Red and White Stripe WLN 610

100% Linen, ~5 oz., 58" Wide, $19.99/yd.

Sometimes red and white stripe linens were used in the 18th century for men's trousers, jackets or waistcoats but may also be used for linings and for women's gowns, jackets and petticoats. In the book Wives, Slaves, and Servant Girls there is an entry for 1781 in The Pennsylvania Packet, "Ran away . . .  a Scotch Servant Girl . . .  had on and took away . . .  a . . .  short gown . . .  red stripe linen, home made." Off white linen thread will work well for hand sewing.

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Stripe linen fabric 18th, and 19th century colonial costume, historic reenactors and museum interpreters.
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Red and White Stripe WLN 579

100% Linen, ~5 oz., 58" Wide, $16.99/yd.

Sometimes red and white stripe linens were used in the 18th century for men's trousers, jackets or waistcoats but may also be used for linings and for women's gowns and petticoats. In the book Wives, Slaves, and Servant Girls there is an entry for 1773 in The New York Journal, "Ran away . . .  a servant woman . . .  [and] two sailors, who are supposed to have assisted her in robbing her master, and are gone off with her. One an Irishman . . .  he wore . . .  a red and white stip’d waistcoat." White linen thread will work well for hand sewing.

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Stripe linen fabric swatch for 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th century historic reenactors and museum interpreters.
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Red and White 1/8" Stripe WLN 673

100% Linen, ~5 oz., 59" Wide, $15.99/yd.

Sometimes red and white stripe linens were used in the 18th century for men's trousers, jackets or waistcoats but may also be used for linings and for women's gowns, jackets and petticoats. In the book Wenches, Wives and Servant Girls there is an entry for 1781 in The Pennsylvania Packet, "Ran away from . . .  a Scotch Servant Girl . . .  had on and took away with her . . .  one ditto [short gown], red stripe linen, home made, &c. &c." Off white linen thread will work well for hand sewing.

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Stripe linen fabric swatch for 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th century historic reenactors and museum interpreters.
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Red 1/8" Stripe WHP 109

55% Hemp/45% Organic Cotton, 8.5 oz., 59" wide, $19.99/yd.

Red and white stripe linen was not as common as other colors but it does show up occasionally. This hemp linen is tightly woven and prewashed. It has numerous uses. For women: petticoats, gowns and jackets. For men: waistcoats, jackets, trousers, breeches, shirts, work aprons, workmen's caps, and outer breeches (commonly known as slops although this term actually refers to all unfitted clothing). Stripe linen is an excellent choice for children's clothing too. For example in The Virginia Gazette of 1773, "RUN away . . .  two convict servant men . . .  [one of them] by trade a cooper, born in Ireland, and has a good deal of the brougue . . .  Had on, and carried with him . . .  a red and white striped cotton and linen jacket, with sleeves, double breasted, and the stripes across". Linen thread for hand sewing in 35/2 off white and 1" cotton twill tape natural matches this fabric well. Tape of matching color is sometimes what is used as binding on women's petticoats and gowns.

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Linen fabric swatch for 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th century reenactors and museum interpreters.
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Brown 1/8" Stripe, 55% hemp/45% organic cotton, 8.5 oz., 59" wide, $19.99/yd.
WHP 108

Brown and white stripe linen slightly less common than blue stripes for working class garments both in Europe and the New World. This hemp blend is tightly woven and prewashed. It may be used for women's petticoats, gowns and jackets and for men waistcoats, jackets, trousers, breeches, shirts, work aprons, workmen's caps, and outer breeches (commonly known as slops although this term actually refers to all unfitted clothing). Stripe linen is an excellent choice for children's clothing too. For example in The Pennsylvania Evening Post in 1779 "Ran away . . .  an apprentice girl . . .  had on, and took with her, two short gowns, one of white linen, the other striped brown and white". Linen thread for hand sewing in 35/2 off white and 1" cotton twill tape natural matches this fabric well. Tape of matching color is often what is used as binding on women's petticoats and gowns.

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Brown stripe hemp fabric swatch for 17th, 18th, and 19th century historical reenactors and museum interpreters.
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Basic Linen Fabric | Solid Color Linen Fabric | Check and Stripe Linen Fabric