Historical Silk Damasks from Italy in 1300s

History of Fabrics & Textiles

Fabric designs that we use today have a rich and long history, dating back to the Middle Ages! Jump into a time-machine with us as we show you where four popular patterns—damask, toile, paisley, and houndstooth—come from and how they were used.

Damask

Damasks hail from the city of Damascus, where trading of textiles took place along the silk road during the Middle Ages. Traditionally, the pattern used a single-colored silk with a glossy warp-faced pattern against a  flatter background. The original  pattern was so highly coveted throughout European kingdoms in the Middle Ages that rulers of kingdoms commissioned monks to steal silkworms from China and to learn the weaving methods. The first damasks used mostly botanical and animal patterns, but today damasks are known to be an elaborate pendant design.

Historical Silk Damasks from Italy in 1300s
Historical Silk Damasks from Italy in 1300s
Lee Jofa Fabric - Ashton Damask - Gilt 2008161-4
Lee Jofa Fabric – Ashton Damask – Gilt
Stout Fabric - Esto - Document ESTO-1
Stout Fabric – Esto – Document
Clarence House Fabric -  Anjou Damask Stripe - Coral Mushroom Pink HB117-3
Clarence House Fabric – Anjou Damask Stripe – Coral Mushroom Pink
Tres Tintas Wallpaper - Comble - 8 2030-8
Tres Tintas Wallpaper – Comble – 8
Cole & Son Wallpaper - Aldwych - Blue & White CS 94/5025
Cole & Son Wallpaper – Aldwych – Blue & White

More on Damasks:

The Era of Damask

Toile

Translating to “linen cloth,” toile was first produced on canvas in Ireland during the mid-18th century. The pattern features designs that portray French pastoral, Oriental, and mythical scenes. Toile de Jouy, a specific version of toile, was created by the French Monarchy in a small town near Versailles called Jouy-en-Josas in order to compete with printed cottons from India. Most of the images used on Toile de Jouy stem from artist Jean Baptiste Huet, who based his designs on both Oriental and nature scenes.

Toile de Jouy designed by Jean Baptiste Huet I, 1783
Toile de Jouy Designed by Jean Baptiste Huet I, 1783
Scalamandre Wallpaper - Hunt Party - Sepia On Antique White WP81587-005
Scalamandre Wallpaper – Hunt Party – Sepia On Antique White
Duralee Fabric - 20989 - Porcelain
Duralee Fabric – 20989 – Porcelain
Lee Jofa Fabric - Nirvana Shadow - Aqua 2010129-35
Lee Jofa Fabric – Nirvana Shadow – Aqua
Cole & Son Wallpaper - Geisha - Teal CS 89/6025
Cole & Son Wallpaper – Geisha – Teal
Scalamandre Wallpaper - Pillement Toile - Claret WP81561-001
Scalamandre Wallpaper – Pillement Toile – Claret

More on Toile Fabric:

How To Incorporate Toile Into Your Home

Paisley

Originating from traditional Persian textiles, paisley has become a classic pattern in homes across the world. Its appearance likens to a leaf with a slightly curled & pointed end that is thought to possibly be based on a pine cone, a palm or an almond. Paisley’s name comes from the Scottish town of Paisley, where shawls of wool were woven in the design. Originally used in fashion (Queen Victoria loved the print!), paisleys have now become more popular in home décor and are seen in various scales and colors.

Alix de Montmorency, Duchesse de Talleyrand with a paisley shawl by Henri François Riesener (1767-1828)
Alix de Montmorency, Duchesse de Talleyrand with a paisley shawl by Henri François Riesener (1767-1828)
Stout Fabric - Binney 1 - Chocolate BINN-1
Stout Fabric – Binney 1 – Chocolate
Stout Fabric - Boogoloo 2 - Graphite BOOG-2
Stout Fabric – Boogoloo 2 – Graphite
Lee Jofa Fabric - Blythe Silk - Indigo/Pool 2006106
Lee Jofa Fabric – Blythe Silk – Indigo/Pool 2006106
Lee Jofa Fabric - Cocteau Stripe - Gilt/Br 990033-324
Lee Jofa Fabric – Cocteau Stripe – Gilt/Br
Schumacher Wallpaper Pasha Paisley - Pomegranate 5006601
Schumacher Wallpaper Pasha Paisley – Pomegranate
Ralph Lauren Wallpaper - Castlehead Paisley - Calvary Red LWP60715W
Ralph Lauren Wallpaper – Castlehead Paisley – Calvary Red

More on Paisley Fabric:

Fabric Trend – Paisley

Houndstooth

This classic and preppy pattern also known as dogstooth (puppytooth if small) came from the Scottish Lowlands in the 1800s. Houndstooth has a distinct four-pointed shape that looks somewhat like a tooth, and is most often seen in black & white. Like paisley, this design was first used in clothing. Scottish shepherds would wear it as a wool outer garment, and women would wear it on hoop skirts. Originally made with wool, this pattern now comes in several materials and colors ranging from velvet to wallpaper.

DorothyDraper Wearing Houndstooth
Interior decorator Dorothy Draper wearing a houndstooth-patterned suit & hat, c. 1930
Greenhouse Fabric - A6214 - Azure
Greenhouse Fabric – A6214 – Azure
Fabricut Fabrics - Loreto - Granite 3296803
Fabricut Fabrics – Loreto – Granite
Stout Fabric - Downhome 1 - Lavender DOWN-1
Stout Fabric – Downhome 1 – Lavender
Kravet Fabric - 26907 - 317
Kravet Fabric – 26907 – 317
Ralph Lauren Wallpaper - New Market Tweed - Pewter LWP65731W
Ralph Lauren Wallpaper – New Market Tweed – Pewter

More on Houndstooth Fabric:

Drop Dead Gorgeous Masculine Rooms

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One thought on “History of Fabrics & Textiles

  1. Paisley is based on the shape of an un-ripe mango. The word in Urdu, is “keri,” which is the term for the un-ripe mango. When used in bridal henna, it’s to represent the youth and freshness of the bride. She is like an un-ripe mango.

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