Dating fabrics by eileen trestain jacksonville fl speed dating
In most cases, all three fabrics will retain their original degree of crispness after laundering.
Swiss muslin and lawn organdy are no longer available.
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.
Although they have been replaced by the Italian super pimas of today, old percale is highly coveted and a quilter’s dream find.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.
Generally, by the early 1930s narrow widths were replaced by 36″ to 39″ for most all American dressmaking cottons and by the early 60s the standard was 42″ to 44″ though some 36″ widths cottons lingered on for another decade.
One notable holdout is Liberty of London lawn still being manufactured in 36″.
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.
Unwashed old cottons seem to impart a certain glow or patina, mostly due to mellowing and special finishes now outdated.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.
Color, designs, patina and fancy weaves are stronger giveaways.
Old catalogs, ads, pattern and fashion magazines like the by Eileen Trestain, 1998, plus your personal knowledge are useful tools for a decade-by-decade comparison of fabrics.