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"Civil War" Fabric

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Sukochi Posted: Tue, Jan 1 2013 7:17 PM

What is the criteria that distinguishs one fabric line/pattern from another when you are speaking of the Civil War Era?  I had thought it was the dates in which a particular fabric pattern represents. However, I found a fabric line/pattern that states it is Civil War fabric. This line was named after a lady who was born in 1871.  Specifically, Alice's Washday Blues (inspired by Alice Stewart Wolf), designed by Carrie Quinn for Bunny HIll Fabrics. Here is the explaintation of this line of fabric:

Alice’s Washday Blues were inspired by a quilt that was owned by Alice Stewart Wolf, the daughter of John C. Stewart who was the three-time mayor of Galesburg, Illinois in 1859, 1877 and 1883. Carrie’s grandmother inherited the Stewart/Wolf home, as they had no heirs, and she took care of them until they died. Although there is no documentation of it, it was believed that Alice made the quilt herself, since she was born in 1871 and the timeline would be correct.

It is believed that the term “Washday Blues” may have several origins: First, it took about three days of back-breaking labor to do laundry back then, and that would surely give anyone “the blues”. Another theory is that the term comes from the bluing that was used to brighten the whites. This collection focuses on that particular color of faded indigo – indigo that wasn’t left in the dye bath as long and produced the lovely shades of medium to light blue that we love. One of the strongest dyes, Indigo was often used in utility (washday) clothing and, of course, quilts, because it would maintain its color through many washdays.

How then, according to the explanation above, give the designation of "Civil War" fabric to this line?

Sukochi

 

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This is simply my opinion, but to me the Civil war Fabrics would be from the 1840- 1860's. Reason being cotton was a major commodity for the South as well as a major boycotting tool for the North. After the war, many people looked at quilts as a sign of poverty and purchased blankets became the trend. So cotton fabric would have been marketed more for clothing,etc, there was also the push to the west. Cotton was all connected to the history of the day.

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Sukochi replied on Tue, Jan 1 2013 8:15 PM

Meoldy, I get that. My question is how are the fabric patterns determined to be of the Civil war era. I have seen fabric, in different quilt shops, that have totally different fabric lines and call them civil war fabric. I just wonder what makes a pattern a "civil war" fabric.

Sukochi

 

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Welllllllll I don't know, but will be interested to find out.

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Barbara replied on Tue, Jan 1 2013 8:23 PM

Sukochi ,I don't have the answer ,but I will look in some of the Barbara Brackman books I have for fabric of the era and see what she has to say on this subject .I get back to you on this.

Liberty,Missouri

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Barbara replied on Tue, Jan 1 2013 8:33 PM

Sukochi, I do know that alot if it had to do with the dyes that were used in the era .and sometimes the prints . a lot of the prints for the time came out of Europe.  but mostly it was the reds and blues that were popular. again with the dyes of the fabric. I will try to find out more about this .Most all the fabric was cotton. .

Liberty,Missouri

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Sukochi replied on Tue, Jan 1 2013 8:35 PM

Barbara,t her is a blog called Wee MiddleBranch Farm that has some civil war quilts. Some of ethe era and one, very interesting, in celebration of Lincoln's birthday that the owner of the blog made. You must see this quilt. It has pockets, tied with jute, that open. Check it out. Amazing.  Looks like it would be a special memento quilt for a loved one.

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Barbara replied on Tue, Jan 1 2013 8:35 PM

Here is a short history I found on CW fabric.

Overview History of Civil War Fabrics

copyright © 2011 Margo Krager

Historians often think of the Civil War Era as the years from 1850 to 1880. The American Abolition Movement began in the early 1830s. Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel, "Uncle Tom's Cabin", serialized in a Washington newspaper, 1851-52, brought many of the issues to a wider audience. The American Civil War began in April 1861 and was concluded by April 1865. Reconstuction efforts had ended by 1880.

The dramatic growth of the British textile industry in the early 19th century fueled the demand for cotton which soon became the leading US export commodity. Annual domestic cloth production in the decade from 1846 to 1856 grew from 13.5 million to 97 million yards. American merchants imported an additional $17 million dollars worth of printed and dyed cotton in 1854. The selection must have been almost overwhelming!

Fabrics of the Civil War Era. Dye colors: Indigo blue, shades of red plus dull lavenders and many browns. See Timeless fabrics for many indigos, red and double violets. Print styles: Foulard style prints in geomentrics and florals plus plaids, plaids and more plaids...printed and woven.

Looking for classic blue/whites, clear red, double pinks and violets? See Timeless.

Liberty,Missouri

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Barbara this site has been a fav of min and Brackman is a renown textile authority so these are good sources.

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Barbara replied on Tue, Jan 1 2013 9:06 PM

Mel, I have a couple of her books on fabric ,but  I can't find one of them at this time.  she is a great source for info as she has spent her whole career,doing this fabric research ..

Liberty,Missouri

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Thank you so much Sukochi and Barbara. I found all this information very interesting.

Georgetown CA I'd Rather Be Quilting

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I have them too. Madder was used to dye red's and browns, and indigo for blue and of course the walnut hull's for the butternut color. I can't remember the green although there are quite a few plants used for green, peppermint, dandelion, etc. I think I have the CW Fact from Fabrication here with me but everyone's gone to bed. I'll get in the morning.

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Marie replied on Tue, Jan 1 2013 10:39 PM

This is all very interesting ladies, thank you.

Millbury, MA

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Marie replied on Tue, Jan 1 2013 10:45 PM

Barbara, I went to Timeless and the fabrics are beautiful, do they ever go on sale?  Their prices are steep!

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Thanks for the history Barbara and for the links!

Life is like a quilt...bits & pieces, joy & sorrow, stitched with love

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