Craftsman Style Fabrics

Craftsman Style Fabrics

Simple, homespun fabric designs including poppy flower designs, sash curtains, free applique patterns, and woven canvas.

¶ We have traced in this book the development of the Craftsman scheme of building and interior decoration, beginning with the house as a whole and thence working back to an analysis of the different rooms, the wall spaces, structural features, furnishings and metal work, all of which must be considered separately as essential parts of the complete structure, including the decorative scheme.

Craftsman Style Fabric
Craftsman Style Fabric.
Portiere of craftsman canvas with pine cone design in applique.

¶ In doing this we have reversed the process by which we worked out the idea in the first place, for we began ten years ago with the furniture ; the metal work followed as a matter of course because it was the next thing needed; then the dressing of leathers to harmonize with the style of the furniture and the wood of which it was made. Then came the finding of suitable fabrics and the kind of decoration most in keeping with them, and from all these parts was naturally developed the idea of the Craftsman house as a whole.

Canvas Fabric Sample
Canvas Fabric Sample.
Portier of craftsman canvas with checkerberry design in applique.

¶ At first it was very difficult to find just the right kind of fabric to harmonize with the Craftsman furniture and metal work. It was not so much a question of color, although of course a great deal of the effect depended upon perfect color harmony, as it was a question of the texture and character of the fabric. Silks, plushes and tapestries, in fact delicate and perishable fabrics of all kinds. were utterly out of keeping with Craftsman furniture. What we needed were fabrics that possessed sturdiness and durability; that were made of materials that possessed a certain rugged and straightforward character of fiber, weave and texture, such a character as would bring them into the same class as the sturdy oak and wrought iron and copper of the other furnishings. Yet they could not be coarse or crude, for that would have taken them as far away from the quality of the furniture on the one side, as plushes and brocades were on the other.

Sash Curtains
Sash Curtains.
At left: Sash curtain of tea colored net darned in an open pattern with silver white floss.
At right: Sash curtain or casement linen with fret work design in solid darned work.

¶ For upholstering the furniture itself we had found leather more satisfying than anything else, especially as by constant experimenting we had succeeded in developing a method of dressing that preserved all the leathery quality in much the same way that we were able to preserve the woody quality of the oak, so that the leather maintained its own sturdy individuality, at the same time possessing a softness and flexibility and a subtlety of coloring that proved wonderfully attractive. This was especially the case with sheepskin, which we finished in all the subtle shades of brown, biscuit, yellow, gray, green, and fawn, but always with the leathery quality predominant under the light surface tone. These leathers accorded so well with the plain oak furniture and metal work that for a time they became almost too popular, for they were used by many people for table covers, portieres and the like, in rooms where rugged effects were considered desirable. In fact, the fad ran to such lengths that it fortunately wore itself out and leather was allowed to return to its proper uses.

Sash Curtain
Sash Curtain.
Sash curtain of casement linen with another form of pine cone design done in darned work.

¶ This was made easier by the discovery of certain fabrics that harmonize as completely as leather with the general Craftsman scheme. These are mostly woven of flax left in the natural color or given some one of the nature hues. There are also certain roughly woven, dull finished silks that fit into the picture as well as linen, and for window curtains we use nets and crepes of the same general character. A material that we use more than almost any other for portieres, pillows, chair cushions, indeed in all places were stout wearing quality and a certain pleasant unobtrusiveness are required is a canvas woven of loosely twisted threads of jute and flax and dyed in the piece, a method which gives an unevenness in color that amounts almost to a two toned effect because of the way in which the different threads take the dye. This unevenness is increased by the roughness of the texture, which is not unlike that of a firmly woven burlap. The colors of the canvas are delightful. For example, there are three tones of wood brown one almost exactly the color of old weather beaten oak; another that shows a sunny yellowish tone; and a third that comes close to a dark russet. The greens are the foliage hues, one dark and brownish like rusty pine needles, another a deep leaf green; the third an intense green like damp grass in the shade; and a fourth a very gray green with a bluish tinge like the eucalyptus leaf.

Canvas Pillow
Canvas Pillow.
Pillow covered with craftsman canvas and ornamented with pine cone design in applique.

¶ Our usual method of decorating this canvas is the application of some bold and simple design in which the solid parts are of linen applique in some contrasting shade and the connecting lines are done in heavy outline stitch or couching with linen floss. This simplicity is characteristic of all the Craftsman needlework, which is bold and plain to a degree. We use applique in a great many forms, especially for large pieces such as portieres, couch covers, pillows and the larger table covers. For scarfs, window curtains and table furnishings of all kinds we are apt to use the simple darning stitch, as this gives a delightful sparkle to any mass of color. For the rest we use the satin stitch very occasionally when a snap of solid color is needed for accenting now and then a bit of plain hem stitching or drawn work. It is the kind of needlework that any woman can do and, given the power of discrimination and taste in the selection of materials, designs and color combinations, there is no reason why any woman should not, with comparatively little time and labor, make her home interesting with beautiful and characteristic needlework that is as far removed from the "fancy work" which too often takes the place of it, as any genuine and useful thing is removed from things that are unnecessary.

Bedspread Design
Bedspread Design.
Poppy design as applied to a bedspread of homespun linen.

Couch Cover Design
Couch Cover Design.
Poppy design carried out in applique to ornament the corner of a couch cover.

Next Page: Dining Table Linens.



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