Friday, May 3, 2013

Civil War Jubilee: Document Prints

In the comments a few days ago a reader asked if I painted the prints in my reproduction collections. I can't paint that good! And the geometries of repeat have always confounded me.

I am at heart an archivist. I usually reproduce antique prints from my own collection but for Civil War Jubilee, coming to shops this summer, I found most of the prints in Moda's mill book library.

We have several mid-century swatch books full of fantastic cotton prints

including this star design called "Nightwatch" in the Civil War Jubilee line, originally in madder shades of burnt orange and red. I did a preliminary scan here from the swatch book. We re-scan it with the high-end scanner in the office that captures all the detail. Once I've chosen a print, we work on the color. We shifted the color towards brown and a redder red for this one and added a dark blue.

I choose the colors by matching color chips to my antique fabrics. Someone else chooses the Pantone numbers.
 Pantone numbers are the way designers communicate about color. Each of the thousands of possible colors has a number that computers, printers, painters and designers understand.

Pantone numbers were sort of a theme at the 
Moda booth at Quilt Market last year.
The table cloths reflect color swatches
and paint mixing sticks are hanging over the tables.

We communicate pretty well about the color from my house to Texas to Japan where the printing is done.  I'm usually quite pleased with the way the colors on the cotton strike-offs reflect the colors I've chosen.

I choose the prints looking for a variety of sets, repeats and scale.
And I am always looking for a print with a patriotic theme---
star prints and flag prints are perfect.

"Nightwatch" reflects the interest in formal print layouts during the 1860s. We might think of these fabrics as window pane checks.

Gridded geometries were quite the fashion.

One waist, two skirts.

Here an added figure as in the star print---
a combination of formality and fun.

See a PDF with all the Civil War Jubilee prints here:
And read more about Moda's document prints library here:


  1. I always learn so much from each of your posts. The history of fabrics is just fascinating. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

  2. I love that you can use prints from the past and redo them for us, as well as the history behind them. I always think about that when I am working with the prints and feel the connection to our past, as I sew.


  3. the link to the the 2011 post about the document library goes no where..... FYI

  4. Thanks for the heads-up Mimi. I fixed the link.

  5. Another wonderful post! I love "Night Watch" in all 3 colors. I'll be looking for it. Thanks for all the info and inspiration you provide!

  6. Thank you for describing your design processes. Fascinating and how lucky you are to get to see all the archived resources.