Saturday, July 9, 2011

Green Calico Reproductions

Mid 19th-century applique block
The difficulties in dyeing and printing cottons green created a rather limited print style that became a classic with 19th-century American quilters.

Possibly 1870-1890

Small-scale green prints were not generally used for clothing or for interior decorating. Quilt historians believe they were printed and marketed to quilters---who loved them for applique and piecing.

When looking for reproductions consider
1) Color
2) Color combinations in the print
3) Print scale
4) Print content

Block dated 1858

1) Color. You have to decide what shade of green you are looking for. Are you trying to match the green as it came off the bolt? A clear color, rather a grass green?

1870s-two similar prints shifting in different fashion.

Or are you copying a faded quilt? Do you want a yellow-green or a teal?

Probably 1880-1910
Or perhaps a brownish green to copy the end-of-the-century greens that faded to a dun color of gray or tan.

2) Color Combinations. You are limited here if you are trying to get the classic period look. You want three colors: green, yellow and black. You might also have a blue figure in there for a mid-century green.

Original print

A Nancy Gere design she calls Poison Green in her Colonies collection

This stripe from a mid-19th-century block has black figures with no yellow.

Blue figures are sometimes seen with the yellow and black figures,
 as in this mid-19th-century block.

Five good greens from Jo Morton's Crimson & Clover

3) Print Scale. Look for small-scale calicoes, rather tiny figures without a lot of detail.

A block dated 1869

A suggestion of a fleur-de-lis from the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum collection

4) Print Content: Look for geometrics (for example: stars and dots), florettes (general flower and leaf shapes) and stripes.
A geometric from about 1910.

These prints from about 1900 show very little detail in the figures.
The flowers are mere suggestions of a floral, what fabric designers call ditsies.

A perfect ditsy from Judi Rothermel's Lancaster County collection

Now you know what to look for. I can't tell you where to buy them as some of them are way out of print (and they ARE my competitors) but I will tell you to buy at least a yard when you see good green repros. You can't have too many green calicoes if you make reproduction quilts.


  1. I do have some rocky mountain in my stash, always look for green prints when I am shopping, can never have enough.


  2. Thanks for this! I've always loved green repros and bought liberally, thank goodness.

  3. I try to buy a lot of greens when I can find them. My stash always seem light in greens, I use them as fast as I find them!! I'm really glad I found your blog, it's full of great info. Thank you so much.