Where’s the Bark in Barkcloth?


When I tell people I love working with vintage barkcloth–this is what I’m talking about.  

Barkcloth fabric, like the piece I just turned into a gardeners tool belt (above),  is an American–made cotton from the 1940s, 50s and 60s.   Used for curtains, slip covers and other home-dec projects, it was wildly popular in its day is much in demand again,  thanks to the interest in mid-century style. 

The “bark” refers to the texture of the fabric–a bit like tree bark some  people think.   

There is another barkcloth from Africa that is made from trees–the layer under the bark, actually.  That bark cloth is very geometric, harder to find and a whole lot more expensive than cotton remnants I like to cut up.

Here are some other bark cloth fabrics from my collection.  Greens, browns and yellow were popular colors.   I often find bits of metallic gold in the designs, along with lots of 1950s atom motifs.  Tropicals were very, very common  

I’ve read the texture or “bark” on the surface of the fabric was a way of  dressing up lower quality cottons due to shortages  during and after WWII. 

All the more reason the treat it gently. 

Because the fabrics are older and fragile, I like to anchor them to heavier fabrics like canvas with rows of stitching.  It’s a technique I use often in my work.  To see more, go to my www.kikisrewinddesigns.com

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