Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Factory Cutaways: Shirting Factory Wovens

I've been posting about factory cutaways
and how they determined quilt style.
Here's a string quilt from about 1915 that has the distinctive shapes discarded by clothing factories,
plus a limited range of fabric style.Nearly everything in the quilt is woven pattern or solids...

The kinds of fabrics woven by southern mills from about
1880-1930. (Do note there is one piece
of patchwork cheater cloth in it, the only printed fabric
I noticed.)

Woven plaids and stripes
were often called ginghams at the time.

They were quite popular for clothing about 1900-1920
and the quilts made with them might have been
scraps from the family wardrobe.

Montgomery Wards catalog
Here the stripes are also called chambrays

The woven patterns were inexpensive and durable---
perfect for children's clothing.

Crib Quilt about 1910

Sometimes you see a quilt made of various colorways of one woven pattern or fabric so close in style you
can believe it was purchased by the pound from a mill or a clothing factory.

Tennessee mill, 1910
When Lewis Hines documented the children
working in American cotton mills
about 1910 he captured the plaids and checks
in their wardrobes.

Nine Patch of striped fabrics about 1910

It's hard to imagine the variety in the dresses
of these girls and women about 1910
but there were probably bright plaids and pastels in the mix here.

Bow Tie About 1910

It was easier to get purple wovens
than purple prints at the time.
Mills could dye cotton yarns purple cheaper than
printing a purple figure.

You see the coming 1930s rage for pastels
in the teens with these pale quilts.

Simple pattern in both fabric and patchwork
People sometimes use the word homespun for these rather austere stripes, checks and plaids but they were likely to have been factory-made.


  1. These quilts made of wovens are so charming. I did not know that so many were made from factory cutaways. Thanks for the very interesting post.

  2. Wouldn't it be awesome to have access to something like that now! Maybe if we lived in Sri Lanka .....
    I have a quilt made by my Great Grandmother that is all ginghams & plaids, she lived in deep in the Ozark hills, so I do t know if the fabrics could have come from a factory.

  3. These are such terrific fabric to see in a quilt. They add so much movement and character.

  4. Every one of these quilts really pulls at my heart. Think you could do something about bringing woven plaids and stripes back? I've been resorting to old shirts just to find them.

  5. There is something about make do quilts that i absolutely love.


  6. In my earlier quilting days, on a trip to Hong Kong, I was given a bag of trimmings and end pieces. I probably have enough to make a quilt but had not thought of it until seeing these.

  7. I have been toying a long time with the idea of visiting tailors of bridesmaid dresses and bridal gowns for crazy-quilt scraps.

    When I visited Swaziland I had two garments made by a seamstress and asked to rummage her scrap bins.

  8. You said: Woven plaids and stripes were often called ginghams at the time.

    In my time as a kid mother called them ginghams....they were summer clothes....