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, 54" wide
Orange Yellow Changeable Lutestring WSV 172
$24/yd.

Lutestring is one of the types of taffeta available during the 17th and 18th centuries. Lutestring was often changeable as is this plain weave changeable silk. Although the end threads reveal this to be a bright orange, the soft natural yellow really tones this down to a complex earthy overall look. Throughout the 18th century taffeta was used for women's gowns, jackets, and petticoats. Men wore taffeta as jackets, coats and waistcoats and banyans. In the 1775 Essex Gazette published in Salem Massachusetts an advertisment informed "just imported in the last Ships from London, A large and beautiful Assortment of . . .  English & India Taffaties, 3-4 and half-ell changeable Lutestrings, black ditto, Mantua Silks" as cited in personal communication with Mike Barbieri. For hand sewing drab quilter's silk may be the closest match to this fabric.

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100% Silk, 54" wide
Grey Beige Changeable Lutestring WSV 170
$24/yd.

Lutestring is one of the many types of taffeta available during the 17th and 18th centuries. This plain weave changeable silk is of a warm pinky beige that changes to a soft grey with a hint of blue. Throughout the 18th century taffeta was used for women's gowns, jackets, and petticoats. Men wore taffeta as jackets, coats and waistcoats and banyans. In The Pennsylvania Evening Post, of 1776, "Ran away . . .  an Irish servant girl . . .  She also took with her a changeable mantua gown" is cited in Wenches, Wives and Servant Girls. For hand sewing drab silk quilter's thread will match this fabric fairly well.

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100% Silk, 54" wide
Orange Olive Changeable Lutestring WSV 176
$24/yd.

Lutestring is one of the types of taffeta available during the 17th and 18th centuries. Lutestring was often changeable as is this plain weave changeable silk. This is made of a bright orange that changes to a subdued shade of olive green resulting in a fantastic light earthy orange. Throughout the 18th century taffeta was used for women's gowns, jackets, and petticoats. Men wore taffeta as jackets, coats and waistcoats and banyans. In The Pennsylvania Evening Post a newspaper ad in 1776 included "Ran away . . .  an Irish servant girl . . .  She also took with her a changeable mantua gown" cited in Wives, Slaves, and Servant Girls. For hand sewing buff quilter's silk may be the closest match to this fabric.

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100% Silk, 55" wide
Stripe Silk WSV 128
$22/yd.

Striped silk of this weight is great for gentlemen’s waistcoats and coats as well as lady's petticoats, gowns and jackets. Silk garments were in the possession of the poor as well as the wealthy such as in this Virginia Gazette ad of 1773, "RUN away . . .  a Convict Servant . . .  an Englishman; by Trade a Bricklayer . . .  with sundry other Clothes which he stole, namely . . .  a striped Silk Waistcoat." Tan silk thread will work well for hand sewing this 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

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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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Silk Fabric | Cotton Fabric

Cotton Fabric

100% Cotton, Black Manchester Velvet, 53" wide WCN 341
$10/yd.

new Back in stock!

Cotton velvet spread rapidly after about the 1750s (possibly much earlier) and were known as "Manchester goods". Black velvets were used in the 18th century for women's cloaks and 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 1776 Connecticut Journal an ad included, "ranaway, a Frenchman, lately from Canada . . .  had on . . .  black velvet breeches" cited in personal communication with Mike Barbieri. Black linen thread matches this fabric as will black quilter's thread for sewing button holes.

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100% Cotton, Crimson Red Manchester Velvet, 58" wide, WCN 334
$10/yd.

new New!

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

100% Cotton, Olive Sprigged Muslin, 42" wide, $15/yd.
WCN 129

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 toward the end of the American War for Independence and soon was used in making empire style gowns, handkerchiefs and chemisettes. At a shop in London called Walker, a trade card published between 1757 to 1758 included "plain sprig'd and strip'd muslins". Off white linen thread for hand sewing will match this fabric.

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

100% Cotton, Claret Flowered Muslin, 42" wide, $15/yd.
WCN 130

This white muslin has white vines with light pink 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." Off white linen thread for hand sewing will match this fabric.

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

100% Cotton, Pink Flowered Muslin, 42" wide, $15/yd.
WCN 131

This white muslin has white vines with light pink 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." Off white linen thread for hand sewing will match this fabric.

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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.
WCN 346

new New!

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.
WCN 347

new New!

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.

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100% Italian Cotton Book Muslin, White, 45" wide
WCN 111
$16.00/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
$8.00/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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