Welcome back! Today I wanted to spotlight the newest fabric in the Virgil's Fine Goods line: Seraphina.
Sometime in early 2022, I was approached by Sarah Walsh, aka @pins.abigail on instagram, about a quilt square she had acquired at an antique store. The quilt square had a curious set of prints on it, with a stamp on the back that dated that particular fabric to the late 1860s-1880s. We were both intrigued, however, at the fact that the more predominant print in the pattern was very similar to prints made in the 1770s. Based on the research we, and others, have done, we believe this print is a Centennial Print done in the 1870s to commemorate the United States' celebration of 100years.
In seeing the fabric, the quality of the print, and realizing that I might just be able to piece together the repeat, I asked her if I could try and see if maybe it might be a print to offer in the shop.
Through the magic of the internet and computer programs much smarter than myself, I was able to bring it to life. The first step of making a high quality reproduction print is taking high resolution photos of the print with a measuring tape for scale. After that is done, I can crop, paste, and maneuver individual snippets of the photos sent to figure out the repeat. Once a repeat is established, I can then copy over the design and fill in any gaps in the drawing.
You can see above that there were little bits I had to conjure on my own, but almost the whole repeat was accounted for, which I think is super cool!
The next step was figuring out the colorway. Since this print was likely made in the mid-19th century, the coloring as is wasn't going to cut it to make an historically-plausible 18th century printed fabric. The original tones on the quilt square skewed mint/teal and had a fair amount of orange (both colors together were very popular in the 1870s) whereas most of the research I had found on 1770s prints similar to this one, with pointy foliage and flowers, seemed to be solidly in reds, blues, and purples with muddy forest green.
There were many comparable 18th century examples photographed in the Wearable Prints: 1760-1860 book, Toile to Jouy book, A Lady of Fashion: Barbara Johnson etc as well as several extant garments in museums. My favorite comparable textile is from a chintz gown from the Victoria & Albert Museum (detail photo pictured above in the middle) so I chose to emulate the 18th century colorways as closely as I could using primarily logwood purple tones, bright reds and a hint of light blue. I really like the finished effect!
After playing with the colors it was off to the printers and the sample now in my hands! It's such a cool feeling to recreate history in such a tangible way... and on suuuuuch a lovely fabric! I'm thinking an Angelica Italian gown made out of this print might be on the short list for me :)
I feel very confident that my rendition of this design is suitable for 18th century women's gowns, petticoats, banyans, robes, linings, children's gowns, pillows, comforters, really anything you'd like made of a 1770s chintz fabric.