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You will find that many Barkcloth Era fabrics (30's-40's) were a departure from the traditional Hawaiin Tropical Themes of the early 30's when barkcloth was reintroduced to the American textile marketplace. It was quickly copied by the French with roses and floral designs and their own slant on tropical themes. Things do come full circle (as the Hawaiin Fabrics were printed on cotton similar to the Cretonne fabrics of the turn of the Century that were coming out of France. So...it is difficult with some of these older, vintage cotton fabrics to know exactly which were American and which were French as they largely are found today unsigned as they were turned into curtains, drapery, and other decorative textiles. I normally find curtain panels from the era, rarely original salesman samples though. We know about Waverly fabrics, as they are a bit newer and have VAT dyed with their name stamped on the selvage. But what about the other fabrics that I mentioned, without any names..how can you tell their age or where they are from? For me, the easiest was is to look at the selvage, is there a name and if so, can it be found on the internet? Then I look at the design, then pattern and texture (is it a waffle weave, a slub cotton, a synthetic), and of course the condition (is there any foxing?). Largely from my experience with working with these fabrics, I can determine with some accuracy, their respective ages (also, if they are purchased directly in France at a flea market like most of my fabrics on my website, http:www.ruins-ca.com/ ..then it is a no brainer). I also look at the stitching if they are hemmed textiles. I am particularly fond of the brown fabrics for some reason as this color is relatively rare. I am attaching some of these barkcloth era cotton and synthetic brown fabrics for your review. Is anyone up to the task to determine or guess where each is from? That would be a fun challenge. Anyway, enjoy looking at them..it is my pleasure to own and offer them for sale. Have a Happy Valentines Day! ~ Lisa (Hint of the day, foxing, the brown dots that look like rust that you find on some older barkcloths and fabrics is a mold that deteriates the fabric. It you soak out the foxing, many times you will find the fabric beneath is compromised so please consider that when considering to purchase your vintage barkcloth).

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Replies to This Discussion

Lisa...I'm guessing...first two are French, third is American and newer. Am I close? Don't tell me yet, I want to hear what others say. I'm judging strictly on colors and print, so ...(shrug) Very pretty fabrics!
Okay..shh.I will keep quiet...L btw, scratch the word synthetic..they are all cotton..L
By synthetic, do you mean a rayon type cellulose fiber, or something like nylon, poly, etc. that are chemically synthesized?
Sharon, according to my historical textile almanac of the ages, all synthetic fibers are a morph between cellulose and cryptonite. It is known that a quilt made of such material, if dropped from a tall building, will actually bouce, sometimes high enough to hit a local star in our galaxy causing such a catastophic result that it can be felt by those sensitive and knowledgeable enough to experience its effects on the cosmos. This, shall reverberate through the heavens for all eternity. This is why I recommend using only pure cotton when sewing a quilt or designing a pillow such as the authentic vintage or antique barkcloth that you will find on my website, www.Ruins-ca.com. BTW, there are also nasty microscopic, subatomic creatures who feast on the cellulose fibers that you speak of. Cellulose is not digestible by humans however, and is often referred to as 'dietary fiber' or 'roughage', acting as a hydrophilic bulking agent for feces, which is why I recommend folks to refrain from chewing on their cotton/synthetic blend quilts, so your point is well noted and must throroughly be investigated by the proper textile authorities. I will be happy to forward you the results of their investigation and get back in touch with the group with said results when I hear from them. In the meantime, your point is?
Well, Lisa,

I guess I won't eat any of the polyester fabrics, but rayon "dietary fiber" is OK for human consumption?
Heh heh....good point! ~ Lisa
Note to self...no more nibbling on the quilts...even at 3am when it's a long way to the kitchen...
Ha ha!!!
Folks, decided to list some antique French Fabrics (Cretonne) for you to peruse..these are also known as French Barkcloth as their cotton content and texture is similar to many of the vintage American Barkcloth Era fabrics that you find. These are all from the late 19thc-early 20thc. and can be found on my website, www.ruins-ca.com. Enjoy!! ~ Lisa
Some more french antique fabrics from www.ruins-ca.com:

Here is another fabulous fabric that I discovered in my stash..a 19thc-early 20thc cretonne fabric that was the predecessor to modern day barkcloth fabrics..wild eh? This particular piece is French. xo Lisa
Okay Lisa, I've read the info from your site and the other site, too. But - tell me again - how can you tell it's a cretonne? Now, explain slowly for the challenged one (me!). Please?


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