Yesterday I posted a picture of a quilt top that had a lot of tan in it, that at one time had been all red.
I bought another old top with that fading red dye….
It looks rather dull now but imagine it when it was new and all bright red.
The white in the top is recycled flour sacks ( I think flour but could be other items)
So what is with that “red” fabric. Lets start with Turkey red
“Turkey red” doesn’t have anything to do with Turkeys, it refers to a particular color, Turkey red isn’t just red, or a particular red, or even a dye you could buy. It’s actually a dye process that produces a very colorfast red. The dye process was developed in the Middle East so it got the name Turkey red. It was a very involved dye process , part of which included steeping in oil, the use of oil caused it to sometimes be referred to as oil boiled. Once turkey red became available quilters went crazy with the very ornate red and green applique quilts of the mid 1800’s. The process for making Turkey red was very expensive so the fabric was very costly. Synthetic reds were introduced in 1875 and they were advertised as colorfast, and often falsely sold as “Turkey Red” , but they either bled all over the place or faded to various shades of tan. There wasn’t a really colorfast synthetic dye until the 1920’s
So the new quilt top would likely fit into the space between 1875 and 1920.
A few more examples of mixed red fabric. You would not be able to tell the dye process by looking at the new fabric so it wasn’t uncommon for quilters to mix fabrics, that would have looked the same when new as in these stars.
I pieced the antique blocks into a top, but I left the faded reds as they are because to me it is a part of the history.
When new this top would have been more red white and blue.
but a lot of the red has turned tanish pink.
This fade happens whether the fabric is washed or not. Sunlight and washing make the fade faster.
Some have just a few pieces of color fast red that let us know that the rest of the fabric would have been red when new
It is hard to get a good picture of the real color they fade to, and they do fade differently depending on the fabric but to get an idea of the color think Band-aid.
Green is a different story and different dye process but greens can really fade too.
This top was red and green when new
and the lilies in this top were red and green and yellow when new
When we look at old quilts sometimes we see odd things, one block or two very differently colored,a few odd pieces in the quilt that seem to stand out etc. It is tempting to believe that these color differences were intentional and have some special meaning or symbolism, when in fact it was just the fabric dye of the time.
So the new top was once red, and it is now a sort of washed out redish tanish brownish color but it is still sort of cool. and I will quilt it one day.
Teddy is not so sure, he didn’t want to sit on it 😉