Thursday, April 18, 2013

Moda's Mill Book Series: Collections for a Cause

Project Quilt
Mill Book Series: Circa 1835

Moda's latest Collection For a Cause line is called the Mill Book Series: Circa 1835

Should be in shops this month!

Mark Dunn, our boss at Moda,  found the prints in the oldest mill book in the Moda library. The very thick book is from about 1835.
I did a little detective work on the book, which is all in French.

A mill book is a bound copy of the prints a particular fabric mill produces during a season, like a scrapbook.

This particular book is full of light and airy prints in the colors Moda has reproduced.
I was trying to figure out what French mill might have kept the book and was pleased to come across words like "Koechlin" because there were Koechlin mills in Mulhouse in Alsace-Lorraine in the early nineteenth century.

But I also came across names like Schlumberger. You may think of the Schlumberger empire as based in oil equipment but they started out as textile printers in Alsace-Lorraine. Weren't Koechlin & Schlumberger competitors?

And then there swatches with the word "unknowns"---Inconnus
I wonder if this book is not a scrapbook compiled by a designer looking to lift a few ideas from his own competitors.

 I don't think anybody is going to be copying the print on the top of the page above although the dots are a good addition.

Spies---industrial espionage...
Keeping an eye on the other printers?
But who kept it?
It's still a mystery.

I like this page where it says Koechlin Brothers and then in parentheses (Mauvais) underlined.
Meaning Bad!!!
A critic.
Hey, I like these delicate pastel prints.
And I think you will too.
Remember the Collections for a Cause lines that Mark Dunn does always benefit a nonprofit and this one benefits the American Quilt Study Group.
Thank you, Mark.

Here's a link to see the whole Mill Book Collection:


  1. I am looking forward to this line a lot! unusual to find light early 1800 repro's ...thanks for sharing always love learning more thru your research

  2. Wow - such a pretty line Barbara! looking forward to this one :)

  3. I love the prints that you design around the old book samples. Looks like another wonderful line.


  4. I worked with Shlumberger in the early 90's, developing the first pay at the pump credit and cash accepters. I did not know they had a history in textiles.

  5. How interesting. We are just finishing up our discussion on the Industrial Revolution in my 8th grade classroom. THe kids were fascinated that industrial espionage existed back then... Samuel Slater memorizing the plans for the water frame and bringing the design back to the states to build his own textile mill in Rhode Island. Thanks so much for sharing.

  6. I love the prints that you design around the old book samples. Looks like another wonderful line.

  7. When would these fabrics been available to the women in Springfield Illinois if the book was dated around 1835?

  8. Hello Barbara, Chris here... In my search to find out a quilt pattern name I have been lead to you... I have tried to up loaded a picture of a quilt I have been working on "here and there" LOL! so that you can see the design, but for some reason it will not load... It is 2 shapes 1)an elongated hexagon that forms a "Y" shape and 2)a filler triangle. A quilt appraisor looked in your quilt block referance book and it is not shown. It is very portable due to using an English paper piecing method. I saw the "original" quilt exhibited in a museum about a year and a half ago (origin dates around 1880s). The docent for the exhibit allowed me to trace the two shapes so that I could try my hand at recreating the quilt. What was phenomenal about this quilt was after the top was pieced, the creator then embellished the quilt as you would a crazy quilt. It was utterly stunning. (Have not started that part just yet) Actually the original quilt top was not completed, I think as the top grew, the quilter got bored with piecing and started to embellish as she went along to change up the pace of creating the quilt... at its’ point of “Completion” it was a little larger than lap size... I think she\he was very close to completion. As I said, it was stunning!!!! Thanks for your help, Chris

  9. All I know is what is in BlockBase. Sorry I cannot help. It sounds lovely.

  10. Barbara, Thank you for responding... :) I will continue the search... Chris Lapham

  11. I *love* those vibrant prints like the Schlumberger shown. Do you think there's enough of a market to do them in reproduction?

  12. Mary M, shop ownerMay 11, 2013 at 7:24 AM

    Love history, too. Mystery continues for me though since Koechlin and Schlumberger are German names.

  13. Answers:
    1. Everybody loves those red Schlumberger prints which I would call French Provincial. I always check Sandy Klop's American Jane lines for Moda as she often does these bright French looking prints.
    Check this pdf of Le Petit Poulet.
    2. Springfield IL. We see those red French Provincial style prints in hundreds of quilts in America after 1840 or so. They became a real fad, probably would have been available in Springfield in the 1840s.
    3. Schlumberger a German name? You are pronouncing it wrong.
    Shlumber-zhay. Koechlin and Schlumberger and many of the other
    Alsatian printers were of German origins but the province was a bone of contention between France and Germany and has been governed by both France and Germany over the past 150 years. My mother's family was Alsatian. We thought they spoke German but their census records say they were born in France.

  14. Barbara,
    I just ran across this blog and I was completely blown away.
    Thank you for this valuable information. I would love to learn more about the textile mills in Alsace-Lorraine and the area during the mid to late 1800's and early 1900s. Can you offer any suggestions, books, etc.

    My mother's family is also Alsatian. Her great grandfather and grandmother were textile workers and they did speak German even though the dominating country kept changing. :~) I have been so intrigued by all the prints in the Collections for a Cause line but this new information on the Mill Book Series is phenomenal.