Dating fabrics by eileen trestain

Unwashed old cottons seem to impart a certain glow or patina, mostly due to mellowing and special finishes now outdated.

Novelty and variations on basic weaves can help define fashion trends of the day.

Although they have been replaced by the Italian super pimas of today, old percale is highly coveted and a quilter’s dream find.

Organdy, lawn organdy and Swiss muslin are often mistaken for each other.

Time really hasn’t changed wools and silks and as they were produced in a variety of widths and distinctive weave patterns from the late1800s. Generally older wool acquires a musty smell which many times even a good airing can’t dispel.

Identification of these two fabrics requires knowing what’s been on the market in the last several decades and using good textile-dating reference books with high-quality colored and black-and-white photos.

This particular fabric may ring a bell or evoke childhood memories for those of you who are familiar with these dolls.

Regardless of its quality, lawn organdy is a great fabric to work with; grab it you find it.

One notable holdout is Liberty of London lawn still being manufactured in 36″.For instance, iridescent chambray and basket-weave cottons were the absolute rage in the late 1940s-early 50s; finding those fabrics in 36″ is a good clue to their age. Some plain-weave cottons such as batiste, lawn and nainsnook are still with us but whether old or vintage, their similarities after washing make them virtually indistinguishable from each other.Two other long-gone family members, mull and longcloth, are nearly indistinguishable from nainsnook and lawn whether new or washed.In most cases, all three fabrics will retain their original degree of crispness after laundering.Swiss muslin and lawn organdy are no longer available.

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