If you’re new to quilting, you may not have noticed the trend. If you’ve been at fabric stores for any significant amount of time, however, you may have noticed fabrics that look out-of-fashion. Rest assured, the 1800s are back again in quilts, and Civil War Era Reproduction fabrics are highly sought after if you’re looking to put together a quilt that looks beautifully old-fashioned.
Civil War Era Reproduction Fabrics are either designed directly from patterns that were popular from about the 1850s through the 1880s, or closely resemble them. They use colors closely matching those that were available during the era, though considerably safer considering the history of dangerous dyes that went into making some of those bold colors.
The color choices are more limited due to lack of certain color availability in the era, and many of the fabrics are less vibrant than you’d expect to see today. The most commonly available dyes accessible in the period were Turkey red and Prussian blue. Though there was some purple available, it was usually pale and browner than the purples we’re used to today.
Though many of the more utilitarian quilts from the period are lost to time, memento quilts, such as those with signatures, were sometimes better cared-for and survived to this day. Quilts during that era have a complicated history. All the calico factories were located in the North so women making quilts in the South had to make their own homespun using any fibers suitable. Women often cut up clothes to be used in quilts as well. Quilts were made for soldiers and patients in the hospitals, as well as for fundraising efforts and are interwoven extensively through the history of the period.
Why You Should Consider Civil War Era Reproduction Fabrics
The look of Civil War era reproduction fabrics is distinct, and offers a particular challenge. Fabrics from later eras are easier to match and coordinate, but offer fewer high-contrast options. If you’re looking for a quilt with stark contrast, Civil War reproduction fabrics are a great choice.
If you’re hoping for something with less contrast, plenty of Civil War patterns offer a unique color selection that won’t disappoint. Small, repetitive prints offer plenty of creativity, and there are some larger prints as well. What you won’t find is a lot of calico prints, so if you’re looking for a traditional looking quilt that is still unique, this is not an era you should overlook.
If you’re looking for a quilt with a lot of small pieces, there are plenty of Civil War fabrics that have been flooding the quilting market for over a decade to help you make a one-of-a-kind quilt that isn’t overly busy. While you can easily pick your own fabrics or grab a set of themed fat quarters to help you assemble a quilt top properly, Civil War fabrics are so popular that there are also plenty of pre-cut options available to take the guesswork out of picking fabrics that will coordinate well with one another.
The Perfect Excuse to Machine Quilt
Another small history lesson is that the sewing machine was invented in 1854. Women with the means to do so were eager to have an opportunity to show their status by machine-quilting, making a point of making sure that those perfectly even stitches would be visible to anyone checking their handiwork.
If you’ve ever felt the pressure to learn to hand-quilt because of the message it conveys, you might appreciate taking advantage of that historical tidbit.
There are several quality books available that talk about quilting patterns that were common during the Civil War if you’re interested in an added layer of respect for the period as well.
For more tips and ideas, stick with Quilting Ace. Do you need information about quilting with a sewing machine? We have an article for that!