Sunday, August 26, 2012

Signing Off

When I started this Blog almost 2 years ago...I envisioned postings followed by questions asked and answered...which would lead to more information about the history of print and dye technology developments. It has not quite worked out that way.

I think for now...I will suspend Cottonopia. Margo Krager

Monday, August 20, 2012

Chintz c.1960

About 10 days ago...I did a 'road trip' with several friends from Bozeman to the Charles M Bair museum in Martinsdale, MT. There is new (July 2011) state-of-the-art museum space ( 7,000+ sq feet) to house the art work collection....including Charlie Russel, Edouard Cortes and Edward S Curtiss (photographer) as well as Native American items.

The house tour was fascinating...with interiors in a favorite color.... RED. Note toiles and chintz.

Guest Room at the Bair family home
The guest room was added in the  1960s...complete with drapery and chair coverings in Chintz of the period!

I would highly recommend a daily till Labor Day...and Wed/Sun through October.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Print run

Margo's first print run
It 'takes a village' to do a successful print run. The designer has an idea...but needs the help of a fabric stylist. This talented person...has a functioning left and right brain!! Their job is to interrupt your ideas...into something that will work with today's technology.
Once you 'ok' the croquis....the screen is cut. This is the most expensive part of the process.

This is my first print run in 1997. The egg yolk yellow with red is the document colors...the others are all c. 1830 possibles. Once the screen is set up and the machine is turned need to run 3.000 yards to be cost efficient. Few printers want to have all their 'eggs in one basket' a 3 color run is common.

This print run...was accomplished with the help of Makower and my local banker!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Calico King

Mathew Chaloner Durfee Borden (1842-1912) was known as both M.C.D. Borden and the Calico King. He began work as a clerk in a dry goods house and moved on to a firm that represented the American Print Cloth Works in Fall River, MA. When this company went out of business in 1879, Borden reorganized the company into the American Printing Company, building three mills in Fall River. Eventually he owned the largest cloth printing business in the world and was known as the Calico King.

I was going through my collection of antique fabrics swatches recently and came across this sample ( it feels like a fine light weight wool) with an attached label from M. C. D. Borden and Sons Inc.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Center Medallion Workshop

Elegant toiles or dramatic florals were often used as a point of interest in British and American Center Medallion quilts, 1800-1830. Printed Center Panels, originally designed for pillows and chair seat covers, were especially popular in quilts from 1820-40 in America.

I will be doing a hands on Center Medallion Workshop in Bozeman, Aug 18th. You may begin with a toile or a dramatic floral
or a Center Panel of your choosing.  We are no longer doing the Quilts on the Lawn show..but we are still having our BIG annual Customer Appreciation Sale Aug 17/18, 2012 and a History of Chintz lecture (Friday night) and the Center Medallion Workshop on Saturday, Aug 18th, 2012. Call Margo for further information....406-580-3358

Saturday, July 21, 2012


Flax Flower
Linen, a natural fiber, along with wool was the main fabric of Europe before the arrival around the turn of the 17th century of colorfully painted cottons from India.

Woven linen goods are tan in color and often have brown flecks. The yardage must be bleached before it can be dyed successfully. The bleaching fields of Haarlem, Holland whiten most of the European linens of the early 18th century.

Linen woven during the winter months in England was sent to Holland in the spring. The fabrics were soaked in lye, washed and spread out on the grassy fields in the sun for weeks. The process was repeated numerous times and usually finished by October when the fabrics were returned to England ready for dyeing.

The modern chemical industry that developed during the First Industrial Revolution in Great Britain brought us muriatic acid bleaches that eliminated the 6 month long sun bleaching process. Now linen could be bleached in a factory in just a few hours.

When I taught Apparel and Textiles last winter here at Montana State University, I would begin each lecture with a current issue that related to the day's lecture topic.  Here is a link to an article about 600 year old linen bras.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Dargate Swatch Book

 I own nine vintage fabric sample books. My first and earliest is the Dargate Book....dated c. 1830 by Dr Virginia Gunn, Professor of Costume (retired), University of Akron and Susan Meller, author of Textile Designs.

Dargate Book

When I lecture about my books, I am often asked about their purpose or use. 

By the mid 19th century, there were fabric swatching services available from Paris. These samples were often pasted into ledger books, along with labels to identify the print houses.

I do have a Day Book from an American mill...that shows the patterns printed each day...from 1899-1901.

My favorite page in the Dargate Book
Copyright Margo Krager

The Dargate Book is earlier. Susan Meller thought the samples were from the Mulhouse region of France. My feeling has always been that they are from different mills from that region because there are many different 'styles' and levels of printing skill throughout the book.

I recently came across a wonderful description of swatch books in the collection of the Jouy factory.

' a large collection of printed fabrics ...pasted into ledgers like dried plants in a herbal'....Toiles de Jouy, Riffel and 41.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

New technology

'High tech' woodblocks often contained embedded nail heads for detailing. This added an element of shading or texture. Thin copper or brass stripes could also be turned on their edges and hammered into the woodblocks to print not only details of a floral motif...such as thin stems and vines...but also backgrounds of twigs. This was known as 'coppering'.

Early toiles featured finer details that were possible only with the engraving of the copper plates. Copper roller printing was invented in 1783 but it was not until 1815-20 that this new technology was able to produce a polychrome with exquisite details. Note the delicate fronds and shaded stippling of the sample.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Color and scale

The Divers fabrics arrived on Thursday!

The designs were taken from samples in the book, titled Divers, dated 1863 and probably from Mulhouse, France. The fabrics were dyed with madder and depending on the mordant used, the colors vary from a rust to lavender to almost black.

Scale is ideal for a reproduction Civil War Era gown.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

AYG...Apparel Yard Goods

Pleasantly Plaid 1861-1865
 Shortly before Quilt Market in May, I had the very good fortune to take a Historic Clothing Workshop from Elizabeth Stewart Clark. The discussion of styles, sewing techniques and fabrics covered all of the 19th century. Elizabeth shared this picture for Cottonopia.

After two very full days...I developed a more sophisticated eye for the intricacies of 19th century garment construction and a slightly altered approach to choosing fabrics for ReproductionFabrics.

I always say if you are interested in Civil War Era quilts....Plaids, Plaids and more Plaids. All sizes (scale) are appropriate for both garments and quilting.

When new fabrics arrive (orders from Kansas City Quilt Market are arriving weekly now) we will assign a new designation for those especially appropriate for either garments....AYG (Apparel Yard Goods) or Home Dec..FYG (Furnishing Yard Goods). These fabrics while used for garments/bed skirts also were seen in quilts.

As I developed more Center Medallion Quilts for my 'hands on' workshop...I will be using Chintz Center Panels and squares of Furnishing Fabrics interchangeably.

This piece...Flora dated 1830-1860 but it looks very much like a fabric used in a mid 17th century Caraco jacket in one of my French fashion books. So we have a current reproduction of a mid 19th century reproduction of a 17th century block printed indiennes.  Good job!
Flora Bunda

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Design Board

The new Black Octagon Chintz Center Panel arrived at the store while I was at Quilt Market. I am delighted with the quality of the printing (dye on sheeting) and the colors...and am now busy on my design board.

There were two last minute color corrections.  Thanks to Billy the magician at the printing machine...we have more 'rose' to the two center flowers and a hint of lilac to the 'bells' and 'mums'. Perfect!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Necessary Neutrals

 Last weekend was Quilt Market in Kansas City....and the first question is always...what is trending? The quilt marketplace has been dominated by brights for a long time now...and so naturally as 'all fashion ends in excess' the shift is to neutrals even in reproductions.


I found the usual 'color chips' of Turkey red, Chrome yellow, orange and green, chintzes, calicos and yarn dyes plus interesting neutrals.




Sunday, May 13, 2012

Shirting dots

A dot....a most basic shape and a perennial favorite of textile designers. This sample has two colors, red and brown, in very orderly rows and is one of the patterns in my new line, Margo's Favorite Shirtings by Newcastle Fabrics, to be premiered at Quilt Market in Kansas City next week. Along with this document coloration there are two other combinations, black and taupe on off white, and black and medium blue on cream.

Variations on the theme.....

Pin dots....a important basic of quilting cottons during the mid/late 1970s....the second Quilt Revival of the 20th century.

A change in spacing...same simple dot.

Fabric printers of the early 19th century often called these...Polka Dots....trying to capitalize on the newest dance craze...the Polka, a Bohemian folk dance wildly popular in Great Britain and the United States by 1845.

Pairs of dots. This is also from my new line, Margo's Favorite Shirtings (19th century styles).


A variety of dots.

An added element...a Spring Bouquet. This design is also from my new line of shirtings, to scale and the document color.

When the printing machine starts, you need to do 3,000 yards to be cost efficient. Most printers do not want all that yardage in the same I choose one or two other colorations I think are typical for the time period. This design also comes in two shades of blue and two of lilac.

Happy Mother's Day !

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Black Octagon

Motif from Black Octagon Chintz Center Panel

Last April I premiered 3 Chintz Center Panels. They have been well received and I was able to add 4 more designs during the following months.

I started with a local printer who does digital ink printing on paper (for local artists from the Paradise Valley) and fabric.
Early this year I decided to do a new panel with a black background. I quickly learned it was not possible with the current process. So....I started down a long long road determined to print this exquisite panel!

I have just approved the strike off on the Black Octagon Chintz Center Panel done with dyes on sheeting. It is color fast and should be available in late May.

The quilt was probably made in the UK, c. 1820-1840. The Chintz Center Panel is appliqued on a hexagon quilt, 98" X 93".

Black Octagon Panel, International Quilt Study Center
copyrighted image used with permission

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Two blues and two greens

These are samples from the Dargate c. 1830.

Classic blue/white indigo designs could be printed by resist or discharge at this time.  These more colorful designs required a few extra steps!

In the first example, a resist paste was applied to the design area before the first dye bath. If the resist is removed from a part of the leaf and the yardage re would have a pale blue leaf where the resist was removed on the dark indigo background. If you remove more of the resist paste from the leaves and re dye again...'two blue' leaves on a dark background.

Now if you remove more resist from the tips of the 'to be green leaves' and add a protective resist over the leaves you want to remain '2 blues' and then process in a yellow dye wll also get leaves with 'two greens' and yellow tips. Because I can see the back of the fabric in the above example, I think the white was added in the final stage by discharge because the registration is perfect and the white area shows clearly on the back.

This second example required fewer steps. A resist paste was printed for the entire frond including berries at the base of the stem and the fabric is dyed in an indigo dye bath. Removing the leaf/stem resist for a second run through the indigo bath will give you a two blue design. If you now cover the right hand side of the frond with resist paste and dye the fabric yellow, you will have blue and green leaves with yellow stems.

Because once again I can see the back of the sample, I think the berries were also printed with resist initially. The final step would have been to remove that resist...revealing mainly white berries. These berries do not show through on the back of the fabric.

Because of the numerous steps required for these polychrome indigos, they were much more expensive than the basic blue/white indigo prints of the times.

Today was a Montana beautiful morning walking the dog. It was warm enough (45 degrees) for just a sweatshirt. The sun was shining, the sky a cornflower blue and the 4 surrounding mountain ranges plus the Horseshoe Hills to the northwest were all snow covered. Belle was more impressed with the dogs in the lease free area of Peet's Hill.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Western Wear

One of my favorite Vintage Images
I am preparing my final lecture for Apparel and Textiles. The topic is Menswear and Western Wear.  The Vintage Image to the left is one of my iconic Dude Ranch scene!

Western Wear or cowboy dress is recognized around the world as a symbol of the independence and strength of the people of the American West.  The Western style evolved from the environment and the traditions of the vaqueros. Those early Mexican cowboys worked in  thorny vegetation in a hot dry climate. Their leather leg coverings and a wide brim hat became the Levi jeans and Stetson hat of the American cowboy. The bandanna, a working man's kerchief, added shade for the neck and protection for the mouth and nose during dusty cattle drives.  Those cattle drives started around the end of the Civil War. Thousands of Texas longhorns were trailed north to Kansas City with its vast stockyards and rail head. Novels, movies and Wild West shows featured the clothing of the actual cowboy dolled up for dramatic appeal
Teddy Roosevelt's love of the Western lifestyle, the novel, The Virginian, by Owen Wister along with the illustrations by Frederick Remington for Harper's Weekly all polished the image of the American cowboy. Wealthy easterners began visiting working ranches in the 1920s and soon adopted the clothing of the wranglers: cowboy hats, western style shirts, blue jeans and boots.
Posters by the Union Pacific also helped to romanticize the image of the West...and encouraged middle class vacationers to ride the train to a dude ranch location.
My friend Patrica from the G-M Ranch in Clyde Park, MT has told me how her family got into the dude ranch business. In 1934, the railroad contacted the ranches around Big Timber Montana...offering to send them paying guests. At that time, the ranch had just one cabin, Patricia's in laws actually moved into the barn that summer so those first guests could stay in the cabin. The business has grown to numerous cabins and a lodge with a commerical kitchen but the guests still help with the ranch work and enjoy daily horse back rides.

ps The trip to Havre was a delight! The area has some great quilters.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

History of Chintz

I am scheduled for the 'premire' of my new lecture, History of Chintz, this coming Friday, April 20, 2012, in Havre, MT. The talk will be at the Holiday Village Community Center in Havre at 7 pm. It is free and open to the public. I am hoping some of you along the Hi line and southern Alberta or Saskatchewan might be able to come.

The illustration on the left is a corner in one of my Chintz Center Panels.

The heyday of the Center Panels is roughly 1820-1840. The bulk of my lecture leads up to this period. In reviewing my slides, I am amazed at how many early chintz pieces are predominately pink, red and blue. If I think of the colorfast natural dyes available at that time, 17th and 18th century, it does makes sense but I am always a little startled.

I had one of my students interview me last week for her writing class. One of the questions was 'Which Journals do you regularly read?'. I had to think for a minute..but did come up with some titles. I broughta several to the next class....and when handing them to her...I commented that most are a little dry and slow reading. I do however, try to read most selections because you never know just what you might find.
When I lecture about Europe and printed cottons of the 18th century...I always give the dates of the bans in France ( 1686-1759)  and England (1701-1774).  Importing of chintz and other cottons from India continued in Holland and printing for domestic use and export was done in the enclave of Marseilles.
My lecture talks about the various waves of Chinoiserie popular in England and France, the rise of Oberkampf at  Jouy after the ban was lifted in France and the classic Provencal designs. I recently read that Avignon, still a papal state until the French Revolution, was also exempt from the French fabric printing and wearing bans!

ps I will also be doing this presentation, History of Chintz, here in Bozeman on Friday night, August 17, 2012.  I hope you can come.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Strike off's

This week I received the strike off's of my new line, Divers 1863. This is the final stage before the 'button is pushed' and we have yardage! The screens, mesh of synthetic fibers or metal, are cut for rotary screen printing. ( 25 to 1,000 meters are printed per minute)
The example the 'header' on the Cottonopia page..and my favorite in the book, Divers 1863.

For the strike off...the screen is still flat...and placed over a yard of greige goods. ( possbile test question...The base cloth used for printing today's quilt fabric is called ______  _________. The final is coming soon, April 30!)

Each pattern is tested in the various colorways. At this point, I can not change a design element but I can request changes in coloration.

If you look carefully at the right hand edge of this can see a 'scalloped' edge from the screen. I hardly noticed it...too busy assessing the color.

I am always startled to see the particular edge. I forget the screens are not joined with a hard line...but more of a 'feathered' edge.

Goods will be available mid/late May. These patterns are 'to scale'. Document colors featured for this issue of Cottonopia. This is typical of fabrics being printed in France ( Mulhouse area) during the American Civil War.

I am trying to make my Apparel and Textiles class relevant for my students. Last week I began my lecture with a reference to a current controversy at Starbucks. I was delighted when my students knew about the 'pink color'.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

History of Hoodies

I am teaching 'Apparel and Textiles' here at Montana State University this spring. The first day back from break I talked about apparel in current events.....the Trayvon Martin case and hoodies.  
Hoodies were first made by Champion Apparel in the 1930s for men working in unheated warehouses( produce, fish, etc)  in New York City. They were picked up as 'street wear' by the hip hop artists of the 1970s.  Both Tommy Hilfiger and Ralph Lauren starting offering hoodies in their sportswear lines in the 1990s. Now they are ubiquitous....from Target and Macy's to men and women's high end clothing catalogs.

In class we have been discussing the three theories of Fashion Adoption....downward, upward and horizontal. A good test question for the final exam...which theories apply?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Margo's Shirtings

Shirtings are simple, small scale designs on an off white or colored ground. They were a staple of 19th century dry goods merchants. Dots, circles, isolated floral motifs and stripes were economical to print and popular for both clothing and quilts. These are some of my favorites from a past century. Perfect for today's merchants. This is my newest line by Newcastle Fabrics.

These are the document colors.
There will be 2 other colorations of each pattern appropriate for the 19th, blue, violet,red and brown.
Ron and I enjoyed Spring Break in the San Diego area. Little Italy for lunch!, the aircraft carrier Midway, a quilt exhibit in Oceanside (Signs and Symbols:African American Quilts), the beaches and flowers in the desert, Anza-Borrego.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Spring Break

lambI have been teaching Apparel and Textiles here at Montana State University for the first time this winter. We have made it through the cellulosic fibers (cotton, linen, rayon, ramie, jute, hemp) and have moved onto the protein ones....wool, silk.

solar panelA friend has a wool mill 13 miles north of town. So on the last class day before Spring Break we did a field trip. We toured the mill...washing the fleece, the new Picker, the carding machine, the spinning of the roving and natural dyeing of the yarns. The view here is east the Bridger Mountains. I see these same mountains from the cutting table at my store in Bozeman.

Yarns from 13 Mile Lamb and Wool Company.


We also got to see some 1 hour old twin lambs....the very first step in the process of fiber to fabric!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Garibaldi Prints

American print mills produced a wide assortment of black on red ground prints from 1875 until 1925. These are often referred to as 'Garibaldi Prints'.

During the 1860s a charismatic general named Giuseppe Garibaldi helped unite Italy. He and his followers wore distinctive red shirts. This military wear inspired a women's fashion of short red wool shirts or jackets with black embroidery or braid as well as the black on red printed cottons. Both the stylish jackets and the prints were known as Garibaldi.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Novelty Weaves

I have been discussing novelty yarns and weaves in my Apparel and Textiles class at Montana State University. This example is from my Dargate Book c. 1830.
Note the vertical stripes in the ground cloth. This is achieved by a slightly thicker warp thread on the left hand and right hand edge of each more closely spaced threads within the stripe.

The pink weave at the bottom of the scan used slightly thicker weft threads.

This is a reproduction I did...the background was printed to give the appearance of a woven plaid ground.