Sunday, November 22, 2009

Fabrics for Fur Trade Era shirts

Calico Trade Shirts on the Journey of Discovery with Lewis and Clark, a paper I wrote for the Costume Society of America required some fascinating primary document research. I spent many hours reading 1803 issues of a Philadelphia newspaper, Poulson's American Daily Advertiser.

The announcements of ships arriving from England, France, Germany and Asia were of special interest. Dates, times and locations were given for the auctions of the cargo. There was a wide variety of textiles offered:

Trunks of printed Calicos and printed Muslins
An elegant assortment of Fine chintz and Calicoes
Bales of Indian muslins
Bandanas and flag handkerchiefs
Dark and light Indian Calicoes
Clouded and striped Nankeens
Germantown prints
  Quality Canton cloth shirts

On a fine Wednesday afternoon, at the corner of 3rd and Main St, one trunk superfine chintz and one trunk Furniture chintz was up for auction. How I would loved to have been there!  On second thought, maybe that would give me a different number at my upcoming January birthday?

Trade shirt pattern (above image), is  # WID-1 from the Smoke & Fire Company. Fabrics recommended by the company are bright cotton cloth in florals, checked or stripes.


  1. Greetings Margo: A lovely informative post. I'm so thrilled to be awaiting a useful amount of the gaudy yellow which is going to also be used for costuming of coureur de bois at Fort Williams at the Lakehead here in Canada.
    I will be using some of it to do a broderie perse centrepiece for a medallion quilt and I just know some will find its way into making lavender sachet bags which I am offering for Christmas through my website.
    Am going to order a subscription to your new educational programme as this years gift for myself.
    Your website is so darned addictive!!
    Janet in Nova Scotia

  2. Greeting Margo
    it's my first time to reed your Blog .
    It'very useful for baby quilter like me to start learning about fabric history .It's amazing
    Keep on doing this .
    Thapthim from Thailand

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