When embarking on an Edwardian era sewing project, it is critical to look at fabrics, colors, and textures to re-create the most authentic outfit possible. Prior to 1910, finding color illustrations or swatches of fabrics is very difficult. My collection is growing, but heavily favors the late teens when color printing was more economical. The following scans are from summer and winter clothing catalogs and tailor’s books spanning 1906 to 1918. The target audience for these books were women home sewers or men ordering suits from a traveling tailor. You won’t find much evening wear in these offerings but plenty of house dresses, day frocks, suitings, and nightgowns as well as fabrics for making children’s clothes.
Women’s Fashion Colors
1900s fashion colors favored cheerful pastels and bright feminine hues. The lady was a delicate flowers, sweeping her way across the room in her full skirts and ruffling petticoats. Even her silk stockings were chosen to match her dress.
These colors were used for the prettiest of garments: ivory, pastel blue, copenhagen blue, light blue, yellow, pink, rose, turquoise, pale beige, silver-grey, emerald green, and reseda green.
More practical colors for suits, coats and skirts were traditional dark colors: battleship grey, brown, black, navy blue, beige, and wine.
The 1910s moved away from pastels and into jewel tones for evenings. Pastels for daywear continued to expanded into more variety of shades with deeper and lighter hues.
Popular colors were: slate grey, pearl grey, cream, ivory, royal blue, plum, copen blue, navy blue cadet, helio, wisteria, lavender, amethysts, coral, wine, old rose, American beauty (red), mahogany (an orange-red-brown), tango orange, tan, yellow, reseda green, myrtle green, emerald green, nile green and olive green.
Catalogs began to include color charts making it easier for women to order fabrics and clothing without fabric samples.
Women’s Fabrics- Dresses, coats, suits, nightwear
House Dresses: Gingham, duck cloth, chambray, percale, serge, poplin, velveteen, satin habutai
Day / Afternoon Dresses: Wool serge, satin, taffeta, silk poplin, messaline, wool jersey, crepe de chine, silk velvet, Venetian broadcloth, linen, chevoit, organdy, muslin, lawn, noisook, brilliantine
Blouses (waists): Lawn, ponge, madras, silk (crepe, taffeta, shantung, georgette, china, japan), velvet, cashmere, wool, mohair, linen, velvet, lustre, cambric. Trims of Brussels net or French net and lace.
Skirts: Panama, satin, voile, wool
Suits: Panama, broadcloth, tweed, Venetians, serge taffeta, wool, vicuna, voile, chevoit, velvet cord, gabardine
Coats: Wool, broadcloth, kersey, chinchilla, beavercloth, tweed, wool velour, covert, silk velveteen, velvet (evening coats)
Nightgowns, robes: Flannel, velour flannelette, twill flannelette, sateen, muslin, white cotton, silk
Aprons: white lawn, gingham, chambray (pink, blue, fawn)
Edwardian Fabric Shops
Reproduction and new fabric shops to look through.
- Fabric.com – An assortment of basic fabrics. Sometimes I find great options here.
- Thai Silks – A huge assortment of silks and silk blends
- Damask Raven – Silks appropriate for historical clothing
- Renaissance Fabrics – Historical fabrics and trims
- Maltings Fabrics (UK) – Early 20th-century reproduction fabrics
- eBay – Vintage Sari Fabric, especially with a deco print, is a great option for evening gowns
- Reproduction Fabrics – Mostly heavier cotton/crafting weight fabrics
- Spoon Flower – Vintage reproduction or inspired designs printed on a variety of fabrics
- Liberty Fabrics (UK) – Cotton and lawn printed fabrics. Also silk and linen
- Farm House Fabrics – Cotton, lawn, suiting, silk and more
- Sew La Di Da (UK) – vintage inspired cotton, linen, crepe, etc
- B Back and Sons – Wool, cashmere and silk. Wool suiting ideal for menswear
- Dharma Trading – Dyeable silk, cotton, rayon and linen fabrics
- Burley and Trowbridge– Cotton, wool, silk and linen historical fabrics
- NY Fashion Center – Fashion fabrics, all kinds
- Mood Fabrics – Designer fashion fabrics, all kinds. Trims and leather too
- Fashion Fabrics Club – More fashion fabrics
- Fabric Mart Fabrics – Organized by fabric type
- IKEA – some amazing historical clothing has been made from Ikea’s fabric and curtains
- Farthingale– Corset, garter, petticoat making supplies and some fabric
Move onto 1920s fashion fabrics