Archive for the ‘Vintage Fabrics’ Category

The Hunt for Vintage Cotton: In Search of Warp Ends

This hunt for and knowledge of vintage cottons column was inspired by several queries to fabric.net about Indian Head and a nudge from Judith. First, the revival of cotton, saving us all from the polyester blahs, is due in large part to quilters demanding premium muslin and the southern heirloom ladies for insisting on fine swiss. However, between those two extremes is the loss of wonderful now-obsolete yard goods. Older sewers know the joy of sewing with such cottons and miss their existence; younger ones will never know the infinite variety no longer within their reach except through second-hand purchase. Two and possibly three of these lost fabrics deserve special attention. Their disappearance has us puzzled because there are still practical uses for them and they would be a welcome sight if they were to reappear. Indian Head — in answer to questions for Andy about this fabric, the communications staff at Textron Inc. provided this information: the Indian Head brand label has been known since the 1820s, the cloth manufactured by Nashua Mfg. Co. in New Hampshire. Textron, having just changed its name from Atlantic Rayon Corp and seeking diversification, bought the firm in 1945 to meet the growing demand for postwar fabrics. In the early 50s, Textron sold the Indian Head operations and a new company, Indian Head Inc., was formed. The fabric was highly regarded and a popular seller. Elizabeth Dyer, Textile Fabrics, 1923, described the fabric as a heavy cotton muslin with more yarns and a smoother finish than many muslins; sturdy, substantial, warm, inexpensive. Used for white skirts, petticoats, girls dresses and middies, boys’ suits, men’s nightshirts, aprons, luncheon sets and table covers. Grace Denny, Fabrics, 1953, reports fabric was available in 36″ and 44″ widths for white; 36″, colored. Fairchild’s Dictionary of Textiles, 1996, lists fabric as a well-known cotton crash first woven by Nashua in 1831. My memories of this serviceable fabric are from the mid-40s to 1960. I used it for summer casual dress and sportswear, including countless maternity shorts. I do not recall seeing it after that time nor have I yet found any source stating its demise. It may be in a later Denny book which always features a glossary on the latest obsolete fabrics. If any of you know when it was discontinued, let Judith know. Cambric — I wish I had the pleasure of sewing more with this fabric when I started to sew in 1946. However, white cotton cambric went out of fashion in that…
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The Great WWI Paris Designer Label Scandal

Which One IS the Toni? I am indebted to author and collector Thelma Bernard whose research serves as the basis for this column. She unearthed the following information from her vast collection of old publications and felt it would have universal interest to vintage garment collectors as well as to collectors of all vintage items. This is Part 1 of a two-part series about fraud, sweatshops and the law in the vintage textile industry. For the past 20 years, vintage textiles has been a popular and growing field for collectors. Clothes and accessories in particular have been bringing premium prices, both at auctions, online sites and local stores. Collectors speak of pride about their garments, hats and shoes that they have acquired by inheritance or purchase, particularly those with a provenance or bearing a Paris label. Nothing quite so elegant as a Worth or a Georgette or a Paquin. But are these labels genuine? Are these garments first rate house designs or secondary workmanship, a conspiracy to defraud American women? Step back into time and then rethink your collection. The explosion occurred on March 1913 when the Ladies Home Journal published a story by Samuel Hopkins Adams, an American journalist and author who played an important part in exposing corruption in business and politics including child labor and the patent-medicine business: Dishonest Paris Labels:  How American Women are Being Fooled by a Country- wide Swindle “The American woman’s slavish and insistent demand for things Parisian has brought about a swindle that today permeates almost the entire dressmaking and millinery business in the United States.” If, for example, a woman has a so-called imported gown with a Worth label sewn in it the odds are overwhelming that it is fraudulent; or a Paquin or a Drecoll or a Doucet label, or any other French label. If she has in her hat a Georgette, a Talbot, a Reboux, a Marie Louise or any other Paris label, it’s a hundred chances to one that the hat was made in America and the label is a forgery.“ “Fraudulent Paris labels are today being used broadcast by the millinery and dressmaking trades of America. The houses which are not guilty of it are the rare and notable exceptions. Some idea of the extent of the practice may be gained from the fact that the manufacture of the false French labels for American-made garments has become a specific branch of the trade-mark weaving industry. The forgeries are woven by machinery and are sold in lots…
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Vintage Thread Chart & Photo Gallery

Limited to Wooden, Foam, Plastic and Other Type Spools and Thread-Related Items up to 1972 (Note: We are not a source for and cannot supply prices for vintage thread) Thread Chart Picture Galleries: Spool Sizes and Shapes Labels – Misc. Labels – Misc., Belding Corticelli Richardson Labels – Meyer Thread Co, G. Hall Jr Co, Keystone Thread, Dragon Thread, Glasgo Thread, Hammond and Hammilton Co, Dexter/Collingbourne/Virginia Snow Labels – American Thread Co., Globe Silkworks, Gudenbrod Bros., Paragon Thread Co., Sears, Talons Labels – Coats & Clark Ads Ads Page 2 Printed Literature Thread Memorabilia Cabinets / Furniture Crochet, Knitting and Tatting on Wood Spools View Thread Chart   Notes About Thread The thread industry as it is known today, according to the Modern Textile and Apparel Dictionary [George Linton, 1973], began in 1806 when Napoleon issued the Edict of Britain during the Napoleonic wars which forbade importation of silk to the British Isles. Up to that time all thread was made of silk; largest suppliers were Clark and Coats families based in Paisley, Scotland. This ban made the manufacture of cotton thread inevitable. From then on, improvements in spinning and other textile machinery inventions and operations enhanced the thread industry. See history of Clark/Coats under those headings in the thread chart which represents a overall picture of thread industry. It should be noted that a thread was developed by Hannah Slater, wife of Samuel Slater, in America in 1793. Slater, known as the father of the cotton industry in America, formed the Phoenix Thread Company shortly thereafter. However, Mrs. Slater’s thread was made from long-staple Surinam [Dutch Guiana]cotton and was not ideal for hand or machine sewing. Thread sizes in 1912 from The Drygoodsman’s Handy Dictionary style=’mso-bidi-font-weight:normal’>Relative Sizes of Needles and Thread style=”mso-spacerun: yes”>  [Source —1922 Singer Sewing Machine Manual] CLASSES OF WORK NEEDLE SIZE COTTON SILK Very fine silks, chiffons, lawns, batistes, etc. 9 200, 150, 120 000 Fine silks, lawns linens, cambrics, muslins, etc 11 100, 90 000 Shirtings, sheetings, muslins, dressmaking, etc. 14 80, 70, 60 0-0 , C, A Lt. woolen goods, flanels, heavy silk, etc. 16 50, 40, 30 B, C, D Cotton Yarns and Spool Cotton: Cotton yarns are numbered from a basis formed in reeling by which a skein is made up of 80 threads 54″ [1-1/2 yds] long, also called a lea or rap. The number of yarns is determined by the weight of hanks made up of 7 skeins of 840 yards each; one hank weighing a pound is…
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Thread Spool Sizes and Shapes

Vintage Thread Chart & Photo Gallery Spool Sizes & Shapes Large bow ties — American Thread’s Twist DeLuxe 1930s, American Thread’s Star DeLuxe 1930s, Coats 1950s-60s, unknown. Assorted bow ties medium — Belding Corticelli 1950s-60s, Max Pollack’s Knight Brand 1940s, Belding Corticeli 1950s-60s, Coats 1930s, unknown. Assorted bow ties small with 1 large guest: Cortecelli 1950s,  John Clark’s Mile End, 1940s, unknown, Clarks ONT marking cotton 1940s. Assorted bow ties smallest — Clarks ONT 1930s, Clarks ONT early 1900s, John Clark’s Mile End, notice hard rock maple. Standard size spools, larger size Standard type spools smaller sizes. While standard spools may look to be same size and style, there are slight variations by manufacturers. This is most noticeable in rim shape and thickness. Sometimes bobbins are overlooked as spools. Here is an assortment of sizes and substances ranging from wood to plastic to foam to waxed cardboard. Side view shows difference in bobbin thickness. By early 1970s other substances began to replace wood  for spools — Talon American‘s black plastic that defies black-painted wood,  Max Pollack‘s cardboard cylinder, Belding Lily’s foam and Clark’s ONT early plastic. All spools date late 1960s-early 1970s. Colored spools played an important part for recognizing thread categories other than dressmaking. Most companies dyed their spools brilliant colors to denote heavier and stronger threads such as carpet and heavy duty. Shown here are Erin’s Pride [linen] orange, Aunt Lydia’s red, Clark’s ONT green, Clark’s ONT navy and an unknown black which appears to be from a sewing kit. Many thread companies took pride in the appearance of their spools. They were and are valued as much as the thread wound on them — Belding Corticelli’s stained and waxed maple, Fleischer’s High Test maple, Belding’s waxed maple, an unknown British brand with milled and beveled rims, J & P Coats hard rock maple with scrollwork at both ends, and John Clark’s Mile End beautiful hard rock maple with scrollwork at one end as shown in inset.

Thread Memorabilia

Vintage Thread Chart & Photo Gallery Thread Memorabilia Clark’s thread box held 20 #50 spools. Appears to be a promotional item from 1920s- early 30s.   A Clark’s promotional for ONT thread. The clever and appealing sales line reads "Nothing stronger can there be than mother’s love and ONT." ONT was George Clark’s acronym for Our New Thread. Card probably dates from early 1900s to post-WWI judging from printing and reference to fast black which were very tempermental; fast black was a guarantee color would remain black after washing. – Courtesy Susan Axel Bedsaul   Charming trading cards from 1881 for Merrick, Corticelli and Willimantic thread companies.    – Courtesy Shirley McElderry Corticell Thread — Front and insider cover of a promotional folder featuring the Corticelli kitten, 1908.      – Courtesy Sharon Stark Every woman carried at least one in her purse. Matchbook kits were a popular advertising means by businesses, particularly banks and hosiery companies. Each kit contained silk or cotton thread for emergency repairs and matchsticks called arrestor rods or stop-run sticks which were moistened and applied to hosiery runs to prevent further action. Bank kit is 1960s. Real Silk Hosiery Mills dates around mid-1930s through WWII and would have been used on rayon hose as well as silk. Belding Corticelli [see closeup] dressmaker shears, est. 1970s, possibly earlier. No other information available at this time regarding manufacturer or length of time BC produced scissors under its name. – Courtesy Sharon Flatbush How a young girl in the 1890s occupied part of her time. This lovely belgian linen sewing back with its beautiful embroidery is missing its silk ribbon but is in perfect condition otherwise. It was to hold larger sewing supplies while a hussif [old eng. from housewife], a small roll-type bag, held smaller sewing tools as shown. – Courtesy of Pamela Keating back view of hussif showing silk ribbon ties and owner’s initials. side view of unrolled hussif, showing tiny stitching which holds wrapper to padded ends and silk ribbon ties.. inside view of hussif. which contains an ivory awl for making eyelet holes, silk thread from Germany and an attached needle cushion. Embroidery or small scissors would have been inserted in holder shown on the upper flap.

Thread Labels Coats and Clark

Vintage Thread Chart & Photo Gallery Thread Labels – Coats & Clark Coats USA — large-size SuperSheen with two different price bottoms; medium size SuperSheen top and bottom early plastic; Coats Golden Chain top. Est. 1960s-early 70s. John Clark Jr Mile-End — Two versions of silver tops; three versions of two bottom sizes and thread sizes. Est. 1920s-30s. Coats & Clark ONT — small size mercerized top with red bottom; small-size mercerized with blue bottom; nylon [green and red label] top and bottom. Est. 1950s-60s. Coats & Clark’s ONT — medium-size wood spools top and bottom; medium-size plastic spools top and bottom. Est. 1960s-early 70s. Coats & Clark ONT — two large-size top labels;  large-size mercerized top and bottom. 1950s-60s. Coats & Clark ONT — large-size with red bottom; large size with blue bottom. Est. 1950s. Clark’s ONT — two large tops and one bottom showing spool cotton label. Est. 1940s-50s. Clark’s ONT — two large-size tops, plastic spools, 1960s-early 70s; medium-large top with similar bottom shown on spool beside it. Est 1940s-50s. Clark’s ONT — large-size top and bottom; medium-large top and bottom; medium-size top and bottom. Est. 1940s-50s. Clark’s ONT — small-size blue top wood [bottom is red & blue on white], red top and bottom plastic, est. 1960s-early 70s.  Small-size black and gold top and bottom, est. 1950s-60s. Clark’s ONT — small-size top and bottom showing several thread sizes; smaller top and bottom showing 3 thread sizes. Est. 1940s-60s. Clark’s ONT — tiny spool bottom states: sheer fabric." Est. 1950s. J&P Coats USA –three tops alike with different bottoms;  6-cord top and bottom. 1940s-50s. J&P Coats USA — large-size top and bottom; medium-size top and bottom which also came in larger size shown in bottom; est. 1940s-50s. Medium-large size top which has chain ring on bottom with 70 in the center, est. 1930s. J&P Coats USA — small spool from a sewing kit or presentation box; est. 1950s. J&P Coats USA — SuperSheen top plastic, est. late 1960s-early 70s;  two silver tops with same bottom label as shown; est. 1950s-60s. J&P Coats USA — [1] scrollwork with four evenly spaced 70 on both ends, bottom label states The Spool Cotton Co., sole agent with 13 in center; est. 1920s30s.  [2] top label with similar scrollwork and four evenly spaced 70 on top only, bottom is chain ring with 70 in center; [3] bottom with scrollwork and four evenly spaced 100, top is same as #2; [4] small 6-cord top, bottom is chain ring with 70…
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Thread Labels Page 4

Vintage Thread Chart & Photo Gallery Thread Labels 4 – Meyer Thread Co, G. Hall Jr Co, Keystone Thread, Dragon Thread, Glasgo Thread, Hammond and Hammilton Co, Dexter/Collingbourne/Virginia Snow    John C. Meyer Thread Co. — Meyer’s carpet thread, date unknown.     – Courtesy Sharon Stark Meyer Thread Co. — top reads John C. Meyer Thread Co. Lowell Mass, always the best; bottom reads Gretna superfine twist,00, pure dye silk subsitute which probably means thread is rayon. Est 1930s, early 40s, based on pure dye silk wording.     – Courtesy Shirley McElderry G. Hall Jr. Co. — Climax Spool Thread on bow tie spool. Date unknown.     – Courtesy Sharon Stark Keystone Thread — combed Sea Island cotton on bow tie spool. Date unknown.    – Courtesy Sharon Stark Dragon Thread — labels are the same at both ends of spool. Date unknown.    – Courtesy Sharon Stark Glasgo Thread Co. — red-dyed bow tie spool. It is not known if this brand is a spelling variation of  of Glasgow Thread or a totally different company. Date unknown.   – Courtesy Sharon Stark Hammond & Hamilton Co. — Putnam Mills pure dye silk machine thread. Date unknown.       – Courtesy Sharon Stark Subsilk by Henry Myer Thread Co., a heavy mercerized thread on 5-1/2" waffle-textured cone spool. Est. 1960s. Fruit of the Loom 12-color thread assortment. Sides of box feature labels corresponding to each spool; there are no labels on spools. Wood spools are rough and splintery. Bottom of box reveals zip code so thread would likely date mid-1960s to early 70s. Collingbourne’s Gold Medal silk thread, Gold Medal best buttonhole twist, pure dye machine twist silk and Dexter mercerized spool cotton. Collingbourne’s carpet and button thread, Dexter 6-cord spool cotton, Collingbourne Gold Medal purse silk and Collingbourne’s silk finish sewing thread. All Dexter and Collingbourne threads shown in these four photos are from the Virginia Snow Studio Crochet Instruction Book and Fall & Winter Catalogue 1931-32. – From the Shirley McElderry collection Tops and bottom labels for Byssine, a #50 silk-finish cotton by Colingbourne Mills. Est. 1940-s=early 60s. – Courtesy Barbara Ziolkowski Geneva cotton glace, 16F on wood spool. Thread sturdy carpet type. Est. 1950s-70s. – Courtesy Barbara Ziolkowski Gloria — brandname of cotton thread by The Thread Mills Inc. Date unknown but appears to be 1950s or later. – Courtesy Sharon Stark None’s Better than MP — according to manufacturer Max Pollack Co. Inc of its cotton thread. Note beautiful spool wood and finish. Est 1930s-40s….
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