Lots of links!
Here are some of my favorite Internet sources for reliable, well-researched
information on quilts and quilt/textile history. This is a work in
progress; please email me if you find any
links you think should be added to this list. There is always more to
in vintage fabrics?
Judith S., Joan Reed Kiplinger and Jessie Gridley McClure, Vintage
Fabrics Identification & Value Guide. Paducah,
Kentucky: Collector Books, 2005. Paperback, 158 pp. $19.95.
subject of textiles is so dauntingly broad, I have always warned fabric
collectors away from collectors' guides. Either such books are so
superficial all but the neophyte is left saying "Gee, that's kind
of obvious," or contain so much misleading information the reader
wonders "Who did they pay to write this nonsense?" A few
compound the insult by including a "price guide" that has no
relation to any value outside a reseller's wildest fantasies.
That's why it was such a delight
to page through this volume. It actually does what this sort of book is supposed
to do: inform and engage. The authors are serious collectors (Kiplinger writes a
funny and fascinating column on fabric history for www.fabrics.net)
and their knowledge, enthusiasm, and wit is obvious on every page.
The book is loaded with hundreds
of the sort of color photos that collectors love: not just crisp, clear pictures
of the textiles being described, but vintage advertisements that put the fabric
in historical context. The text is both concise and brimming with information
ranging from the rejected names for nylon (including Delawear and nuron) to the
strange story of Aralac, a fiber made from milk protein that was the perfect
wartime substitute for wool - except that when wet, it made the wearer smell
like sour milk. There's even information on how to tell the difference between
organdy and "starchless lawn," and how to date dotted swiss (by the
size, arrangement and way the dots are made).
Among the numerous appendices are
fiber identification charts, thread count comparisons, a timeline of common
fabric widths, artist's renderings of common weaves, lists of brand names
(Fluff-o-Dene, Velutina, and Lotus Cloth) and finishes (Tebilizing and Stazenu),
and brief histories of the 120 most prominent US textile manufacturers. And yes,
there is a price guide - realistically based on data from reputable online
sellers of vintage textiles - which includes tips on "what to look for and
what to avoid".
To call this a mere
"reference book" is to do it an injustice. It's certainly is the sort
of volume collectors will refer to again and again. But for anyone with the
slightest interest in vintage fabrics (and that includes collectors of vintage
clothing), it's also just a darned fun read. We can only hope that the
authors will produce a companion volume dealing specifically with printed cotton
fabrics. Quilt collectors would love it!