Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Vintage Calico Fabric

Today is all about vintage calico fabric.
Although here in the US we generally associate the word “calico” with small colorful flower prints on quilt-weight fabrics, it originally referred to the cloth itself.
Here is a brief history of the fabric and term: Calico is a plain woven textile made from unbleached cotton originating from a city in Kerala, India once known as Calicut. Block printed cottons were sent from India to England as early as 1630 and referred to as "calicuts." The term "calico" was soon used to refer to all Indian cottons with an equal weft and warp, then to any plain-weave cotton.
In the early 1700s, England banned the importation of printed fabrics from India. This caused
grey cloth (calico that had not been finished—dyed or printed) to be imported instead, and these were printed in southern England with the popular patterns.
Printed calico was imported into the United States from Lancashire in the 1780s, and here is where a difference in terminology occurred; while Europe maintained the word calico for the fabric, in the States it was used to refer to the printed design. (source:wikipedia)

In this post we’re highlighting the cute tiny floral prints known as
Ok, enough with the history lesson…on with the pretty pictures! :D

These are just a few of the ones in my inventory and can be found on the website. How many cute vintage calicoes are in your fabric stash? Their small scale makes them an obvious and perfect choice for quilting, but for what other projects do you find your self reaching for a calico?


Abby and Stephanie said...

Pretty and I enjoyed the history lesson too. I have some blue calicoes from my mom.

toko busana muslim said...

Thank you for posting this. It’s exactly what I was looking for!

Nanette Merrill said...

Oh I love the calicos. Really love them. My mom had a fondness for calico. I wish I had that stash now.

Valerie Boersma said...

This was so interesting Kimberly-I never knew the history behind the name calico.

I think a cute little calico apron would be fun to have. I think I might have to make myself one:)

KaHolly said...

Excellent post!! Such great information. I shrug my shoulders at the signs in JoAnns at what they now refer to as calico!!

KitschKrafts said...

This was such a great info post. I had no idea about the long history of these cottons. I have tons of these prints because I used to love to quilt all the time. Now, I just don't have the patience I once had. I also loved to use these when I was little to make dresses (or at least what I called dresses- they were always kinda wonky!) for my dolls.

Niesz Vintage Home said...

Oh yes Valerie, an apron in calico would be so cute! In fact, I think I still have my 70's calico apron that I made in Jr. high home-ec class. LOL
And they are the perfect small scale for doll clothes, Erika.

Kathy said...

Nice post. Thanks for the interesting info. Brings back memories of when I worked in a fabric store in the 70s. I actually have an original sample brochure of most of those prints in your first photo from the "ye olde Calico Cupboard" collection by V.I.P. a division of Cranston Fabrics.
Happy sewing!

Pat said...

America was born and created with calico prints - from home decor to earliest fabric dresses.

It has a long and honored history in America, and in Britain alike, who originated those dainy patterns, with their multitude of colors - which helped to fuel most of the textile industry in both countries - at one time...why not bring it back? Quality and style still matter and harmony is always in fashion!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for explaining the difference in meaning between the countries. Very interesting! Ailsa