Those Twenties Textiles

A rule of thumb with sewing is to choose a simple pattern when you have a complex textile.  Simple lines will make the fabric shine, while a complicated design might not even show up well.

Might this be why the textiles of the 1920s are so marvelous?  This is my favorite era of textile design. Women’s clothes, for the most part, followed the simplest shapes.  That made the fabric itself come to the fore.


Textiles from the Paris Exhibit of Decorative Arts, 1925. New York Public Library

We can see this is the picture above.  The woman on the left wears a clutch coat—really nothing to it but arms, three big fabric pieces and a collar.  Most didn’t even have closures—hence the name.  Undistracted by any fancy nips and tucks, our attention goes straight to the fabric. 

Her companion on the right is ignoring all of the common advice given to older, wider women.  Fashion experts told them to wear dark colors and to avoid any prints that weren’t quite small.  She is having none of it, wearing a light colored dress patterned what looks like large feathers.  It’s as if she were saying—I found this wonderful print and aren’t you lucky to see so much of it?

Now it we could just see the colors.

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