Tuesday, 21 September 2010


Am v.happy with this recent acquisition: original Viyella fabric.  It was kindly given to me by a fellow Embroiderer's Guild member - she in turn was given several lots of different textiles by a friend whose grandfather used to be a cloth merchant.

My calculations suggest that the fabric is probably from the first part of the twentieth century (partly based on the fact that it's a narrow width, rather than the current standard 110 or 140cm wide), and it's none the worse for wear.  For some reason I had thought that Viyella was an American brand (possibly because I associate it with shirt-waister dresses worn by midwest farmers' wives), but I couldn't be more wrong: the brand was founded in Nottinghamshire, in the suprisingly early year of 1894.  The fabric's soft warmth definitely belongs to a pre-central heating era - according to Wikipedia it is 55% merino wool and 45% cotton, and I imagine that a Viyella shirt was a particularly welcome layer on a cold day.  As you can see from the label, Viyella guarantee against shrinkage - a world away from today's 'Dry Clean Only' fashion.

I've earmarked the fabric for a dress (have an idea in my head which I need to translate onto paper).  Just need to summon up the courage to cut into a piece of British textile history.


  1. Ma thought it was part of being one of her babies that you had plenty of smocked Viyella dresses when little, I remember her doing the smocking for little sis with iron-on dots.
    Lovely fabric, good colours for you too

  2. Can imagine you as a small child in Viyella - any photos?! Is it nice to wear - don't think I've ever worn any?

    Yeah, I like the colour of the check, am contemplating putting burnt orange with it (will prob not have enough fabric for sleeves - apparently the length I have would have prob been for a man's shirt)