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: