The History of Paisley Fabric

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Paisley is a  design that is many hundreds of years old and can be traced back to ancient Persia, now Iran.

The fashion for using the pattern spread to many other Asian and Indian countries over the following centuries and it was in the Moghul period between the years 1526-1764 that it became the most popular, appearing on everything from stone carvings to the dress of Princes and Holy Men.

The ceramic tile below showing religious and political advisors of the Shah of Iran wearing  paisley printed robes.

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Paisley fabrics and shawls were imported to Britain form Asia for years, until the Napoleonic wars of the early 19th century put a stop to trading and exporting of goods, which meant that luxury items such as this could no longer be imported. This was also a time of great unemployment in Scotland, so former silk manufacturers in Paisley, used their skills to make shawls and the industry thrived, leading to the name for the design which is so familiar. The introduction of the jacquard loom also meant that a wider variety of Paisley patterns could be produced more quickly and efficiently.

 

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William Holman Hunt, “A Lady in an Interior,” c.1850

 

Changes in fashion led to the demise of the popularity of the shawl in the late 1800s, once the shawls were inexpensive enough that every woman could afford to own one, no one wanted to wear them.

In the 1960’s the paisley pattern became popular again.  There was a great fascination for Eastern cultures and their fabrics, the Beatles especially were very interested in Indian music and were influential in spreading the word widely. Music, art and fabric designed for clothing and interiors all showed this trend.It was fashionable, especially in the hippy movement to wear dresses and kaftans in paisley designs, the style reflected in the fashion of the time.

 

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 Mick Jagger in 1967 wearing a paisley print jacket.

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1960’s /70’s Mary Quant body stocking

 

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Needlecord fabric in paisley design from the 1960’s

The paisley pattern is still widely used today in dress making, not just by lovers of vintage and retro but as an alternative to more commonly used floral designs.

Paisley fabric for sale

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Indian Influence in 1960’s Fabric Design

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In the late 1960’s and early 70’s there was a great fascination for Eastern cultures. The Beatles especially were very interested in Indian music and were influential in spreading the word widely. Music, art and fabric designed for clothing and interiors all showed this trend.

It was a fashionable, especially with the hippy movement to wear kaftans, paisley designs and batik printed clothing from India.  The style was reflect in much of the fashion of the time.

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Zandra Rhodes 1969 circle dress now in the V&A museum, in an Indian influenced print.

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 Mick Jagger in 1967 wearing a paisley print jacket.

 

Indian fabrics were also widely used in interiors, for bed spreads and curtains.

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The curtains above in a fabric called ‘indian summer’ designed by Jyoti Bhomik for Heals in 1966. Jyoti Bhomik a young designer born in India worked exclusively for Heal’s during the 1960’s,  his fabric is still sought after today.

 

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British designers of the era such as Collier Campbell also showed their interest in eastern culture in fabric designs such as ‘Zebak’ and ‘kasbah’.

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Barkcloth, Birds and Cherry Trees

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A sunny April morning in our Gloucestershire orchard. The bird cherry is full of blossom and the birds are singing, you can pick out a chiff chaff amongst others in the video below.

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YOUTUBE VIDEO

The fabric on the washing line is mid century barkcloth cotton, the two on the right are Heal’s ‘cherry orchard’ ( appropriately) by Irmgard Krebs and blue ‘counters’ by Richard Jarvis.

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Where has the time gone? It is mid June now and the cherries are on the trees, the grass has grown lots and I have sold most of the fabric on the washing line.

I really should post more often but life has been so busy.

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Grautex. Mid-Century Danish Textiles

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Grautex fabrics were a leading textile company  in the 1950’s through to the 1970’s. They were based in Copenhagen, Denmark and used many well known artists and designers of the time such as  Joan Nicola Wood,  Kirtsen Romer and Ronald Hansen who produced art prints such as pine trees ( below) and beech trees panels.

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Ronald Hansen –  pine trees

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Arne Emil Jacobsen, meadow. 1951

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‘Hyacinth Glasses’ Printed Cotton Panel Designed
by Arne Jacobsen for Grautex Fabrics  1950

 

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‘continental flower squares’ 1951

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Joan Nicola Wood ‘carnival’

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Kirsten Romer ‘skrapper’

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Artist Textiles.

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The early 20th century saw the rise of artists having their designs  printed on fabric to be used in the house or as pieces of clothing. This meant that their art was accessible to the masses rather than being owned by galleries or the very rich. After the war a movement called ‘a masterpiece in every home’ became popular and saw many great artists such as Salvador Dali, Joan Miro and John Piper having their designs printed and used widely.

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Rare vintage 1920’s cotton fabric by french textile artist Raoul Dufy who was one of the first to have his designs printed on cotton fabric. This piece was originally used as a pair of curtains.

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This wonderful Picasso print cotton fabric made into 1950’s style dress. By the 1960’s  Picasso was allowing many of his art work to be printed on to dress fabric, he apparently wouldn’t allow his work to be used for sofas or chairs “Picasso may be leaned against, not sat on” the curator of the 2014 exhibition of textile art  was quoted as saying.

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The piece above printed on soft rayon material, originally curtains is now being made into a skirt.

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Northern Cathedral – a 1960’s work  by John Piper screen printed on  cotton fabric.

 

 

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20th Century Rayon Dress Making Fabric

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Considered the oldest manufactured fabric, rayon is made from cellulose ( often wood pulp), and thought of as semi-synthetic. There are several different ways of processing the cellulose each producing slightly different fabrics such as viscose, modal, lyocell and tencel.

Known as artificial silk when it was first introduced in the late 1800’s early 19o0’s, it soon became very popular as a cheaper alternative to cotton and silk.  By the 1950’s the versatility of rayon meant it was being used extensively often printed in a great variety of fashionable designs and colours.

 

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1960’s Walric rayon shown above is a heavier dress fabric which has a stiffish linen feel.

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this lighter silk crepe like rayon is perfect to dresses and blouses

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Cold satin rayon in great 1950’s geometric design

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Rayon brocade fabric which could be used for dress making or interiors

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1960’s 70’s interiors fabric in a rayon and cotton blend

 

Check out the excellent blog  by Emileigh of Flashback Summer – The History of Rayon and how to care for it  Rayon blog

 

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Vintage Curtain Finds from 2015

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I have been looking back over the last year at the vintage curtains I have found.  Most of my treasure was from junk shops, charity shops and flea markets though some from people who got in touch via the internet. I have bought 1960’s barkcloth curtains by Heals and wonderful designers such as Collier Campbell.

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Heal’s barkcloth curtains ‘garland’ by Mo Sullivan

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‘kasbah’ by Collier Campbell

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1960’s rayon curtains in Barbara Brown like design

There have been some  other more modern curtains from excellent Swedish designers at Ikea.

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and some with unusual and interesting children’s designs

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Bart Simpson playing football

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Twinkletoes in pink for little girls.

I am looking forward to more treasure hunting in 2016 seeing what other fabric  I can find whether  in the form of curtains or smaller pieces.

Further information about Vintage Fabric can be found at the links below.

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