Dating paisley shawls

These objects were hand woven and extremely costly which inspired European manufacturers to attempt to produce cheaper copies for the masses.The primary center for machine woven reproduction Indian shawls became Paisley, Scotland.The swirling, stylized teardrop shape borrows its English name from a small town just outside of Glasgow, Scotland, but its origins are a wee bit more exotic.Taking root in ancient Babylonia (where it decorated everything from plates to palaces) and moving west with the East India Company in the form of luxury shawls that became a status symbol for the stylish women of the Napoleonic era.Shawls were popular during the age of the crinoline, the mid 1800s. In order to get a good length, I had to piece the fabric. I may take off the patches and go with embroidery around each hole.They were huge and rectangular in shape, and were used as a warm wrap over the voluminous dresses. Finally, I backed the paisley with a length of black wool flannel.In weaving this chinoiserie fantasy, a three-by-one twill, approximately sixty wefts per centimeter was used.The Jacquard loom would have been fitted with about 200,000 punch cards to direct the wave of the pattern, which is unique over two-thirds of the shawl.

I’m a child of the 60s and 70s, and those of my generation thought we invented the re-crafting of old clothes. A few years back, slipper-maker Stubbs and Wootton did a paisley slipper made from old shawls.

Collectors of old clothes often come across garments that are reincarnations of an older item. I’ve seen many garments dating from the Edwardian era and the 1920s made from paisley shawls. It was in such terrible shape that this was one piece that could be remade without guilt.

One favored material for such up-dating was the paisley shawl. A few weeks ago it occurred to me that it would make a lovely scarf. I used a patch, but I’m not entirely happy with the results.

Of course that was not true, no more than the DIYers of today invented the idea. Several years ago I found what had once been a robe made from paisley.

No, as long as there have been textiles, people have taken the old and tried to make it new. It was missing an arm and most of one side, but the price was right – 50 cents if my memory is correct – and I knew that eventually I’d use it for something.


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