12 June 2017

My fabric find of the year!

Close-up of today's find
Whenever I pass by my local thrift shop, I check out their fabric section. It's by no means a steady supply of fabrics for historical clothing, but considering how little I sew that's probably just as well. I've found vintage linen yardage there a couple of times, and today I found some really interesting fabric.

It's a pair of vintage window drapes, in a fabric imitating mid-18th century brocaded silk. All in all, I got 5 m (5.5 yd) of 110 cm (44") wide fabric for SEK525 ($55). Not super cheap, but a reasonable price for period appropriate fabric of a very unusual type. I'm especially impressed that they've even copied the use of a solid colored damask patterned ground, as seen in some period silks.

I haven't done a burn test, but the fibers are likely cotton/rayon. I think it may be a 1940s rococo revival fabric. The curtain hooks attached to it were of a type I haven't seen before, and could very well fit that age. One reason why I'm 100 % sure that it's not a genuine 18th century textile is because of the fabric width. Period patterned silks were about 45 cm (18") wide, and this fabric in more than twice that, with five pattern repeats across the width. Also, brocaded fabrics used separate little shuttles to insert colors on each flower bouquet, to avoid wasting extra silk on the back, but this fabric has accent colored wefts running from selvedge to selvedge, like machine-woven fabrics do (the wefts aren't floating, like in some fabrics today, but woven in).

A larger section of the fabric, about 55 cm (22") wide
Now, what am I going to use this fabric for? I'm not sure, other than that it'll obviously be a period garment. I think the fabric style dates to the 1760s or thereabout, so I'll need to research extant brocaded clothes from that era. There's a chance that I could squeeze a robe à la française out of it, to be worn over very small paniers and a contrasting petticoat. Or perhaps a skirt and jacket, which would be more typically Swedish.

Whatever I decide to make from this fabric, I'll first need appropriate underwear, lots of experience in period sewing - and I also want to complete a middle/working class outfit to begin with. So it will likely sit on my shelf for a few years (if not more), but I'm positively delighted to have found it!

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