If only fabrics came with a “born on” date, I wouldn’t need all those reference books.
But sometimes I get lucky. Take this World War I airplane print. I found it in a pile at a second-hand store that buys and resells estates. Still in its original wrapping, this heavy-duty cotton duck was shipped from a NC mill to a family in Richmond Va, back in July 1978.
Subject matter is the second reason this fabric stands out. Since women were the shoppers, sewers and decorators of the last century, most fabrics are loaded with female appeal. In my collection, I have tons flowers, cute animals, and more than a few french women in long skirts. Planes, especially, war planes in happy primary colors, are pretty rare.
And here is one of my new favorite reference books for dating fabrics. If you’re a collector, check out the two guides by Elleen Jahnke Trestain (published by the American Quilters Society). Thousands of full color swatches in each will help you place your fabrics in time.