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Sampler by Dorothea Klein Lemley, Sheboygan, Wisconsin, blocks 1861-1865, possibly assembled later (image from Barbara Brackman's book Civil War Women via Pinterest)

Green could be hard to come by, even for the Irish, in the nineteenth century.

A one-step green color was not available to textile artists until circa 1860. To color fabric green, designers had to mix blue and yellow dye, or overprint/overdye, a process in which blue dye and yellow dye were overlaid on fabric/thread in two steps. Sometimes the process was successful, but too often the dyes faded at different rates, giving the “green” a yellow or blue cast. In overprinting, the second color had to be applied very precisely, or, for example, a leaf on a floral print would be a blue- and yellow-edged blob. However skillful the application, two-step coloring rarely yielded the rich emerald or grass green so prized in Irish imagery. Instead, the results tended toward bluish/teal or yellowish/olive. Around 1860, synthetic dyes made available, paradoxically, a more true green.

Check out period greens on splendid examples of Civil War Quilts at Pinterest. Source: Barbara Brackman, Civil War Women and Clues in the Calico (links to goodreads)


    • Jean Huets

      Thanks for stopping by, Bill. I love textiles, too, although my attempts to do anything with them generally degenerate into bad language and tangled thread!

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