Dating fabrics by eileen trestain

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It is disheartening that even though we may be able to identify, date and feel a fabric, in all likelihood its trademark or special finish will never come to light, a part of its vital history forever lost.Despite these problems involved in vintage fabric identification, this column is to make you aware of and recognize bygone textile names even though you may never see or touch those fabrics.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.

Swiss muslin and lawn organdy are no longer available.So, your divy instincts having performed admirably, you know you have something old, but exactly how old and and exactly what is it?Fabric identification without the aid of selvage markings, provenance or an expert can be tricky. But there are clues to put you somewhere in the ballpark.Another favorite, dotted Swiss, is relatively easy to identify.Prior to the 1940s, dots were larger, fluffier and wider-spaced on sheer or gauzy muslin or lawn.

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