Run, don’t walk, to your nearest quilt shop and buy
this fabric line for your pre Civil War reproduction quilts. Pat and P&B
have done an outstanding job of reproducing fabrics from Pat’s personal
collection of antique quilts and textiles. Pat is a quilt historian that has
been researching and collecting quilts for a long time. Her research has been
published in Uncoverings, the research journal of The American Quilt
Study Group, as well as other respected publications.
The original colorway of fabric is indicated by the word
Document color, and is featured in its actual size. Just click on the
thumbnail. These are the largest
chintz and monochrome prints I have seen, made exclusively for quilter’s.
Usually one can only get chintz like this by purchasing furnishing fabrics,
which are quite expensive and hard to find if you are not “in the trade.”
We will begin with the fabrics called monochromes. These
are one color on a light background, copperplate or roller printed, fabric.
They became feasible with the invention of the copperplate printing
method, discovered by Frances Nixon, in Ireland in 1752. A large intaglio
engraved copper plate was filled with dye or mordant, scrapped, and pressed
down hard on to the fabric. Very fine lined and detailed motifs could be
printed, which had not really been possible with wood block printing.
Monochrome (one color) prints from the period, were made in indigo, madder
red, sepia (medium brown) black or purple. The ground color would be a version
of white or ecru. Sometimes the colors were reversed (dark background with
light design) when a resist or a discharge method (this came at
a later date) of printing was employed. The ground is dyed first and the color
is “bleached” out as in the discharge method, or stopped from being
printed, as in the resist method. Rarely does a copperplate print have an
additional color penciled (hand applied with a brush-like pen)
on it. Monochrome prints were not glazed.
Pat’s line has two monochromes. The red document fabric might also be called a toile.
is a roller print and resembles the well-loved pillar print style, both of
which were popular from 1815 to 1830. The roller printer was patented by
Thomas Bell, from Scotland, in 1783. The method took awhile to catch on, but
was good enough to become a common and preferred method of printing around
1810. A basket of roses, tiger
lilies, ferns and grapes, surrounded by a serpentine stripe of feather-leafs
is the pattern. This design would not have been possible with a copperplate
print, which printed large squares or rectangles, not scrolling designs.
Otherwise, it is rather difficult to tell the difference between the two
methods. One way is the repeat. Copperplates are larger than the roller
prints, which started out at 15” diameter. The repeat on Pat’s print is 13
1/2”. Indigo and green on white are the two other color choices offered.
(Click on picture to enlarge.)
The other monochrome is an indigo print, which is called
It features an eagle with spread wings and a Bird of Paradise. Both of
these birds were popular motifs on textiles. The Bird of Paradise is
recognizable due to its long graceful tail feathers. The birds are small next
to the over-sized fanciful flower heads interspersed between the birds. At the
ends of knurled branches are exotic open blossoms with great detail. They
measure approximately 6” across the blossom.
This could be a reproduction made in the 1830s, of a block print made
in the 1790s. Notice that the lines are not
as fine as the other roller
printed monochrome, and the flower heads feature denser areas and chunkier
motifs. Aborescent, or nature prints with a scrolling design, were popular
throughout early textile design. Nature served as a source of design
inspiration for forms of art. This design could be from England as there are
similar ones in the collection at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.
The line includes black ink on background colors of rich, deep red, blue or
green. (Click on picture to enlarge.)
A full chintz fabric meant it had five or more
colors, and was glazed.
Pat’s line features a full chintz that was a
furnishing print from the
1830s, based on a floral print by copperplate from
the 1780s. The approximate width
of the main floral spray is 12”. The document color has a tan color ground,
but brown would have been just as likely, in the late 18th century
through the 1830s. Other colors used for grounds were light blue, medium
green, yellow, and red. Pat’s line offers tan, blue and green grounds. This particular floral spray is similar to one produced at an
early and prominent English print works company, Bannister Hall.
(Click on picture to enlarge.)
This chintz fabric is seen on a circa 1835 elongated nine-patch quilt
from the Old Sturbridge Village collection,
as pictured in the
book “Northern Comforts” by Lynne Bassett (see “Historian Interviews”
on this Web site) and Jack Larkin. A light blue background version of the chintz is used here,
with prints in pinks in browns. It is a T-square or four-poster bed quilt, made in Fitchburg
Massachusetts. (Click on picture to enlarge.)
Tossed Leaf is a medium scale all-over floral print. With delicate
details on the ground and leaves. It is also found in Pat's quilt,
with the chintz fabric shown above. The
document colorway is red flowers, green leaves on a ecru ground. Very
delicate, wispy print. It was likely a dress print, not a furnishing
fabric. It also comes in beige on tan, and red
and blue on ecru colorways. This would
have been rollerprinted.
Four smaller prints accompany the line, all would have
been roller printed. Listed in descending order by size they are Ombre,
Vine, Wheat and Bud. The ombre print is called a rainbow print when the colors change, not just the values of one
color as in an ombre or fondue print, which are both French terms. Originally,
print's colors were all made from madder dye, and therefore the print technically was
an ombre. One print is in blues, ecru and greens, another, greens, light blue and
salmon, and the document is reds and tans. On top of the roller printed shaded
colors is another roller print engraved design in black. It is a meandering
spray of vines and tiny leaves. These
striped prints add so much interest and realism to reproduction quilts made to
look like those from 1830-60. The
colors coordinate nicely with the larger prints. Do not be afraid to use
color- older fabrics are very colorful, as are early quilts. They would not
match colors; they used all these colors together.
The Vine pattern has tiny tulip shaped flower heads on
thin meandering vines stems. This particular fabric could be used in many
different reproduction quilts. It would look at home in the 1880s and
1920-30s. The document color of this dress print is pink on ecru; the
alternatives are blue on ecru and tan on beige
Wheat is another versatile fabric, looking just as good
in a contemporary quilt as an old one. It comes in dark, rich colors: navy,
brown, green, red and medium light blue. The print is black, red is the
document color. This dress print is similar to designs produced in London
during the 1840s.
Bud is a very tiny and delicate over-all dress print.
This would have been used for everyday dresses. It reads as a light to medium
value in green or light red on ecru , and tan on beige. The red is the
original color. This print could be used for quilts dating from 1840 through
Pat wrote an article about her new line for
American Patchwork & Quilting (Sept/Oct 2002 issue), including a medallion
quilt pattern. You use this line for quilts dating from the early 1800s until
1860. Large scale fabrics and chintz began falling out of favor in the 1850s.
Thank you to P & B Fabrics and Pat L. Nickols for