Textile Classification and Weave Analysis Cards, 1915

I had an interesting estate sale find recently.  The card above was only one of about one hundred cards with fabric samples.  What makes these so interesting is that these were part of the coursework at George Peabody College for Teachers in Nashville, Tennessee.  The cards were completed in 1915 by student Mamie Newman.

The cards were designed by Blanche E. Hyde.  The only information I’ve been able to gather about Ms. Hyde is that she was a teacher at Peabody.  My guess is that she was in the department of home economics.

In addition to Miss Newman’s notes, some of the cards have corrections written in by the instructor.  Ms. Hyde, perhaps?  Miss Newman misidentified the chambray, and noted that it was of average quality.  The teacher’s opinion was that this fabric was below average in quality.  I just know I’d love to find a chambray of this quality today.

The cards with their little textile swatches are delightful, and give a great view of the types of fabrics available in 1915.  Is cotton crepe even manufactured today?

Some of the card describe weave patterns, like this plaid.  Today we think of gingham as a two color, or most often white with a color, check.  Once upon a time gingham was a stripe, but gradually plaids were woven, and today, the fabric is primarily made as a check.

I wish I could say that I brought home all the cards, but that was not meant to be.  The estate company had priced these individually, and to have bought them all would have been around $300!  Still, I did think it was worth purchasing a few as great examples of the type of work  young women in home economics were required to do.  I can just picture the girls in the local dry goods store, driving the proprietor crazy with their swatch collecting.



Filed under Collecting, Curiosities, Textiles

22 responses to “Textile Classification and Weave Analysis Cards, 1915

  1. Sad they’d priced the full set so high. What a wonderful treasure! Thanks for sharing.


  2. I still have the swatch cards from my Home Ec teachers’ course, done 70 years after Mamie.


  3. Lillace Christianson

    What an incredible find–I probably would have hyperventilated! Thanks so much, Lizzie for always sharing your great finds and your knowledge. You are a treasure!


  4. I once bought a whole box of engraving plates mounted on metal slugs that came from a stationery store/printer. Each one was carefully wrapped in an engraved sample. There must have been 100 and the box weighed many pounds. I don’t know what happened to them but I no longer have them. Some stuff is just so cool you have to have it! I probably would have spent the $300. Just couldn’t resist.


  5. Contact the estate if they didn’t sell? Impress upon them your professional collection needs!


  6. Those are so cool. And I’ve never seen cotton crepe.


  7. Those are so nifty! What a bummer they were priced so high.


  8. I love that you found these–and love just as much that your readers also know what treasures they are! They should have a prominent place in the Bramlett Archive and Museum (BAM).


  9. Reba Worth

    What a great find! Do you have a copy of McGowan and Waite’s TEXTILES AND CLOTHING? It was copyrighted in 1919; I have the 1923 edition. Very interesting reading about sweatshops and tenement workers….very pro-worker!


  10. These are fascinating! So interesting the fiber is called vegetable!


  11. Cyndy

    Love this info, thanks! We had a quilt in the 60s made by my Great Grandma Pearl of Iowa born in 1890 using her old dress prints. I wish that quilt survived, I have such happy clear memories of those tiny flowers.


  12. What a unique piece of history!! And also so educational!


  13. Such a wonderful find! It’s a shame you weren’t able to take home the whole collection!

    In the library basement at the university I attended, there was a wonderful room full of bound volumes of out-of-print periodicals. There were volumes of a textile magazine–I sadly can’t recall the name–that was published from, I believe, the 40s through the 70s. It was so much fun going through the pages and stroking the swatches within.

    The swatches on your textile cards reminded me of the magazine. Are you familiar with the magazine? I think you would love flipping through a few volumes of it. I think it may have been called “American Fabrics”…?


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