In the past when I have lectured about late 19th century cotton textiles and mention the Economic Panic of 1893, I often would receive blank looks from the audience. No longer! Now everyone can relate to an economic downturn. The 1893 version was caused by a railroad overbuilding collapse coupled with shaky railroad financing which led to bank failures. This sounds so very familiar.
The effects on the textile industry in America were swift. Many mills went out of business; others lowered their costs by using less expensive greige goods, cheaper versions of synthetic dyes (many of which proved fugitive) and a pared down design staff. Cotton prints for clothing were often simple designs in two colors. The color palette shifted to cool blues, burgundy or claret and off white shirtings. We see these fabrics in many 1895-1925 quilts.
I am now seeing reproductions of some of the high end fabrics that were available in the early 20th century. The designs are sophisticated and the colors include oyster, shell pink, silver, taupe, brown, champagne and tobacco.
Sophisticated colors and design.