Sunday, December 13, 2009

20th Century cottons

My recent poll showed a strong interest in cotton prints from the time period, 1900-1950. So tonight I would like to talk about Shaker Grays--1890-1940.

Their popularity began with the advent of a good synthetic black fabric dye. (The search had been on since the discovery of the first aniline dye, mauveine, in 1856) These prints, fine black lines and figures on a white ground--the black and white mixture appeared to be gray-- were known as Shaker Grays, a name derived from the practical dress goods of the Shaker community (woolens woven from their sheep--assorted shades of white and black), as well as Mourning and Half Mourning prints.

These were a serviceable type of print that did not show the soil. You could readily find them in the Sears catalog up until 1924/25. After that date there was a 'sea change' in the color palette of the cotton prints. In the 1926 catalog, the pastel prints, a small 'flutter' had been available in previous catalogs, were suddenly very popular. The selection of Shaker Gray style prints had been drastically reduced. They continued to sell through the 1930s.

These Shaker Grays are from a 1938 fabric sample book.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Margo: When my father died in 1960 my mother called the dressmaker and then went to the local textiles shop and purchased black linen and a selection of cotton mourning prints in black on a white ground, so these mourning prints were readily available in our part of North America well into the modern period.
    She wore mourning or half-mourning for a full year after dad's death.