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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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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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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Vintage Brocade Fabric & the Jacquard Loom

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Brocade is a decorative woven fabric with a raised pattern made to mimic embroidery. It was originally made using silk for rich dress making fabric, as in this bustle dress from 1880’s.

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The Jacquard loom was introduced in 1804 , using a series of punched cards it made it easier to weave the complicated patterns needed for brocade, damask and matelassé fabrics. Brocade type fabric began to be made using heavier cotton making it longer lasting, therefore good for upholstery.

 

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A jacquard loom showing punch cards

There is an excellent blog by Leimomi Oakes ‘the dreamstress’ on the history of the jacquard loom and the weaves it creates. 

 

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Cotton brocade with silky threads from the 1930’s or 40’s – for curtains and throws

Check out my ebay shop for this and other vintage brocade fabric

 

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Heavier tapestry weave brocade for upholstery. the stripes on reverse called brocade variant

 

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Typically the pattern and colour of jacquard brocade is reversed on the back,  satin weave giving a silky shine.

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Damask fabric has a finer weave and the pattern is less raised than other brocades, the design is still reversed on the back.

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