Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Cinnamon Pinks and Dobby Fabrics

What a sweet little find. It's a hand-stitched 9" square piece with a plain muslin backing. The squares are 1 1/2" and sewn together with tiny stitching neatly done. I do believe it was used as a doll quilt even though it is not quilted. The backing is sewn to the front all the way around the piece so I don't think it was intended as a pillow case. It's too thin to be a pot holder. I'm going to stick with doll quilt.
 I cracked open two of my books on dating fabrics to help me get a sense of its age. I'm not going to determine decidedly, but I'd love to write down what I learned. "Dating Fabrics A Color Guide 1800-1960" by Eileen Jahnke Trestain is a great field guide. It's spiral bound and can easily fit inside a tote bag. My other favorite is large and heavy - it's jam-packed with great photos and info- and deserves a place on your bookshelf if you're at all interested in textiles. This gem is "Textile Designs Two Hundred Years of European and American Patterns Organized by Motif, Style, Color, Layout, and Period" by Susan Meller and Joost Elffers. After my digging I can say that my little quilt is composed of double pinks and dobby fabric. I learned that double pinks were popular on both sides of the Atlantic from 1860-1920. The Americans dubbed the double pinks as cinnamon pinks. Cinnamon pinks are printed with two layers. The bottom layer is made up of fine pink lines creating a background. The design layer on top is made from the same ink but since it's more concentrated in areas it appears darker.

  Until I held the doll quilt up to the light I thought the striped fabric was regular shirting, which I love. Not being one who
gets into pink, it was the striped shirting that attracted me to the piece. I learned from my reading that the shirting fabric is not just any shirting but dobby shirting. Dobby was intended to mimic the more expensive dobby-woven cloth. At the turn of the century as more farmers and laborers turned to work in an office or in manufacturing they needed better looking clothes for their jobs. Dobby shirting was one of the solutions. It is designed with a subtle geometric shape added to the basic stripe. My example represents a common dobby with the geometric being printed in white but it can also be done in the same color as the stripe.
Fabric has been around a long time and even though reproductions are sought after now, it isn't the first time in history. Manufacturers were reproducing fabric designs way back in the 1800's. I can't say if my cinnamon pinks or dobbies are original. I do know they are pieced together by hand and that could be an indicator of age, but not really since there are always those who love to stitch by hand. There's even a resurgence of that now with the slow-stitching movement. I'm just going to enjoy the piece for what it is and for the education it inspired.

I'm not sure how I'm going to display my little doll quilt but it sure has been interesting to learn about it. If I only knew the maker and her story. Now, that would be awesome.


  1. Hi. I just came over from .... somewhere. I can't remember which blog. :-) I absolutely love your wintery banner. And the idea of a doll quilt. Increasingly, I've been thinking of making smaller get to have all of the design fun without stacking up too many full-sized blankets. Blessings, Fiordelisa

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by and for the kind words. I wish I had seen your comment earlier, but it escaped my attention somehow. You are so right about the benefits of making smaller quilts. I hope you have lots of fun in creating little quilts. I'd love to see them.

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