Thursday, July 26, 2012

Dots a Classic

Cartoon by Gilray ridiculing men's and women's
 fashion in London about 1810.

A few months ago a reader asked about polka dots as authentic early 19th century fabric.

They look so contemporary that it's hard to believe they were fashionable in 1811--- as in the swatch below from a London fashion magazine.

Ackermann's Repository featured pink dots in March, 1811.

 And blue dots in January.

No one called them polka dots  (the Polka dance was a later fad).They probably referred to them as spots, as in this 1809 letter from Jane Austen to her sister Cassandra. She was hoping to wear out an old dress so she could justify buying a new one.

"I have pretty well arranged my spring and summer plans of that kind, and mean to wear out my spotted muslin before I go. You will exclaim at this, but mine really has signs of feebleness, which, with a little care, may come to something."

The Austens used a spotted muslin for the sashing in their quilt.

Spotted muslin might refer to any printed cotton.

Or more specifically any print that was arranged
 in a regular set with a diagonal grid.

All the references here are English, where spots and dots may have been more fashionable than they were in the United States.

Detail of an American-made quilt by Zebiah Hewson
 in the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Yet the regularly spaced dot is a classic in American quilts too.

1805 Fashion Plate

Read a lot more about spotted muslins in dress fashion here:


Denniele said...

No matter what they are called, I LOVE those dotted prints. I had no idea they were fashionable then. Thanks!

JoeyLea said...

Beautiful - as always. I love those tid bits of knowledge - dots, spots - silly to think about really but makes so much since when we go to read old text.
Thank you, I learned something new today:)

WoolenSails said...

I have been collecting dot fabrics to make a circle quilt for my daughter. Fun looking for and finding new ones to add to my stash. Most of mine are modern, since she likes that type.