Tuesday, 25 August 2009


Many of the pretty modern printed cottons are in fact adaptations of older ones - often with small changes in colour shades, the spacing of the designs and other changes like tiny spots, or 'vermiculite' or sea-weed backgrounds omitted - they are pretty enough but still, to me, lose some of the vintage charm of the originals - the whites are very ice cold, and the other colours do not have the mellow shades that make them easy to blend with other colours. I particularly like the 1890s patterns, called Indiennes full of exotic Eastern flowers and others which often have border designs, with little ovals of garden tools or little birds and lots of bows and ribbons weaving in and out, usually in soft pinks and reds in the main parts, with touches of grey, blue and yellow. Green is quite rare as it was a very fugitive dye which faded badly, and not popular with French decorators. The Indiennes are usually printed on very fine cotton so they are often damaged. A later Post will give you my ideas on using fragile fabrics, and more examples of Indiennes

I sometimes find small remnants of these charming old cottons, unused and unfaded and use them to make the small sack-like bags that hang from the bars of travailleuses, which are folding, cross-legged portable sewing baskets, very popular with Edwardian ladies who spent a great deal of the day working on their needlework, and no doubt moved the work-bag about the room to get a good light and keep the materials clean and tidy.  I have sold a great many, refurbished with Indiennes and new frills, and lots seem to go to knitters and tapestry workers who like to have everything tidy and to hand!

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