On Patterned Fabrics

To understand dress, one must gain understanding of fabrics. This is a field of study, which no woman with a reasonable sense of Beauty can afford to neglect. Today’s little sermon focuses on different methods of producing patterns upon fabrics. The ways to achieve a pattern on fabric are various, as are their respective effects. Printing is generally the easiest method in mass production, while woven and embroidered patterns are more difficult and thus more costly.

check-dressGeometrical patterns are eminently suited to woven materials, whose nature and form they express. Stripes and checks are preferably always woven, for a printed stripe is just an imitation of a woven one and so inferior. Same applies to houndstooth pattern and other patterns derived from checks – they should be admitted in your wardrobe only as real woven ones. Printed imitations of houndstooth reek of the “Op Art”, and while they might look perky, are one step in the long downward ladder of separating Real and Beauty from the clothes we wear. Even things like the choice between printed and woven pattern are not insignificant details. What you wear upon your person every day affects your mind and your sense of Beauty, which is not trivial but the nearly most important thing in the world.

Printed patterns excel in producing curved and pictorial forms and are allowable and much recommended in producing any pattern which is not possible by weaving. Complex Jacquard weaves or fine hand weaves are exception. They can produce any form, even a curling and rounded one, but since they are a luxury and rarity, it is not forbidden to use prints for forms which can be produced by Jacquard – as long as the print does not pretend to be a woven pattern. Always strive for truth in the textiles you use. Dots are either printed, woven (check that the floating yarns on the reverse side of the fabric are carefully clipped!), or embroidered. Even the simplest embroidery is a luxury, and thus should be of a good quality and neatly made when used.
It requires either a natural delicacy of disposition or concentrated study rightly to apprehend the ladylike elegance in refined, discreet fabrics. Two fabrics of the same hue and style may look not different from each other to the casual observer, but a discriminating lover of fine textiles will immediately detect the minute signs which tell apart the truly quality article from a mediocre one.

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