Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Stars in a Time Warp 18: California Gold

Reproduction block by Becky Brown,
a California style print in the center. 

Vintage block about 1900

The smallest stripe is California or California gold, a fabric style popular with quilters
from about 1850 until the 1890s.

Vintage girls' dresses in California gold

An 1851 fashion note from Godey’s Lady’s Book recommended as dress fabric “an intense yellow, not disagreeable in small spots or stripes upon a white ground, called by the French ‘California’.”

A "not disagreeable" vintage print

My guess is that their “California” print might refer to chrome orange or chrome yellow as figures on a white ground for cotton. The style featured fine chrome orange lines on white. The eye reads the fabric as peach or butterscotch These pale orange calicoes appear in mid-century patchwork and were often used after the Civil War.

Quilt top dated 1878

One of the most common prints features a tiny heart.

Vintage quilt late-19th-century. 
Note the patch.

A bolt label and a piece of the fabric from the Passaic Mills in New Jersey.
"Orange frock print" for dresses

Vintage quilt about 1880-1900 

Detail of the quilt above.
Dots on a grid were another popular staple print.

Becky used a brown dot on yellow to reproduce the look

Vintage top quilt dated 1903

The Pennsylvania Germans held on to their taste for bright greens and yellows
while mainstream quilters moved on to navy blues, wine reds and grays.

Another name for the print style was bouton d'or, French for gold button or buttercup.  But the style is more orange than buttercup yellow. Godey's described it "as exactly the color of the double gilt buttons worn upon dresses some season ago."

Fashion notes from the English
Ladies' Companion & Monthly Magazine, 1853
describing dresses for young ladies 
of "all colours; rose, white, blue, bouton d'or, &c."

"Bouton d'or and mallow colour are also very fashionable hues for trimming bonnets."
The Illustrated London News, Volume 21, May, 1857.

Vintage block: late-19th-century
Often a simple figure on a geometric background of plaid or stripe.

Vintage block, late 19th-century with a staple print

Another staple figure on a honeycomb background.
Staple prints are those produced year after year.
Another name in the trade is "Bread & Butters" because
staple prints are where the mills made the large profits..


Judie Rothermel's Shirts & Ties, "Saffron dots"

Vintage dot on a hexagon net

Jo Morton collection

Notice I am not offering you a lot of options.
Look in other categories of fabric for the right butterscotch shade.

Check the checks and plaids section for the right shade of yellow with white or tan.

and more dots.

What to Do with Your Stack of Stars?
Stars & Stripes

Piece alternate blocks out of 3 strips cut 3-1/8" x 6-1/2".
The blocks above are a detail from this little medallion.

Star Medallion by Kathleen Tracy
See more of her quilts on this Pinterest page:

Lincoln reproduction quilt from Huckleberry Stitches blog

She used many fabrics from my old 
Metropolitan Fair collection for Moda.
The pattern is Lincoln by Carrie Nelson from her Schnibbles line.

A little medallion from about 1880....

interpreted by Legends and Lace

A loose version of the idea from about 1960.
The strips could be random sizes.

One More Thing About California style prints

Block with three related prints
Chrome orange, chrome yellow and California

The “California” print seems to have been tasteful enough for the fashionable to wear. Brighter chrome orange or chrome yellow was not appropriate for dress.

Fashion correctness was a concern. Textile historians Susan Mellar and Joost Elffers found an 1851 swatch, a  yellow and blue printed plaid with a white ground. The swatch was “given the name ‘California’ (probably to cash in on the allure of the California gold rush) by its French maker Koechlin of Alsace.”

In the swatch book they viewed,  a pessimist had written a note: “It will not have success. It will not sell much in Paris, they are afraid of the color."

Many European printers designed fabrics for the foreign market---their former and present colonies in the Americas and Africa. California may have been designed for the American market.

Reproduction block by Becky Brown


cityquilter grace said...

great choice and gorgeous blocks...i know i have some gold in my stash...once it gets unpacked sometime this year....anxious to get caught up...loving this sew along!

Cynthia@wabi-sabi-quilts said...

Can't wait to get home from work and into my stash. Another informative interesting post! Thanks!

Jeanne said...

Ha - I especially enjoyed today's topic ... I live in California and our local history from the 1850s to the 1910s is all about our Gold Rush. I can see Gold Mountain from here! Off to do some mining in my stash: "There's gold (fabric) in them thar tubs!" :)

Mary said...

I hope I can find some of this ion my Stash. I'm making stars and having FUN catching up.

Suzanne A said...

Cut strips 3 1/8" x 6 1/2"? For a finished 6" square block? Not 2 1/2" x 6 1/2"? Misprint?

Rosa said...

Fabulous blocks.Stars block caught my eye.

As always great.I enjoy reading your post.