In the last post I wrote about my road trip
to Moda/United Notions headquarters in Dallas.
My major goal was to go through the antique swatch books
the design department has been collecting.
They've bought several books from various mills,
collections of samples printed, say in 1904.
Here's a book with swatches from the mid 1870s.
My French is rudimentary but I think the label says the book was bound in the textile city of Mulhouse in France.
The books are full of numbered swatches, some related in color.
Others are related in print style.
Many would make excellent reproductions.
It's surprising to see these color combinations that don't fit into our idea of period fabric.
Some of the pages mix cotton prints with wool/silk combination prints in which you'd find brighter color.
This mid-century page looked like wool/cotton mixes (delaines)
I love the red stripe on green contrasted with the green stripe on red.
It's hard to believe these are mid-19th century colors.
Mint green and magenta.
Could that be in the infamous poison green?
Turkey red cottons with greens from overdyed blues and yellows.
Many of the pages contain sketches and paintings of the print rather than the prints themselves.
Can you see the very faint pencil lines covering the paper here? The artist has painted in a color idea for this print that looks like jewelry on top of seaweed.
This is an unfinished sketch for a paisley.
That's my pinky finger for scale.
These sketches are called croquis in French
The fashion industry has adopted that word for a painted design.
Here's a beauty--- a stripe with a daisy or marguerite--- from 1864
A foulard style floral from
I don't paint croquis for my fabrics.
I collect old swatches and scan them.
I find most of mine in quilt blocks and tops.
The swatch books are expensive. They can go for thousands at auctions.
You might ask your local art or history museum if they have any textile sample books.
Here's a page on German swatchbooks. Scroll down for pictures
We'll see what reproduction collections come out of my trip. From idea to print it usually takes over a year.