Sample of wool dress fabric printed with abstract gemstone pattern

Sabden, Lancashire, United Kingdom

Date: c.1860-1880

Origin: Sabden, Lancashire, United Kingdom

Venue: Gawthorpe Textiles Collection

This sample is one of a set of over 90 print samples attributed to the Robert Hindle & Co Print Works in Sabden, Lancashire. The vibrant colours of the samples are a perfect example of the impact that aniline dyes had on the dyeing and printing industries. The first aniline dye was mauveine or ‘Perkin’s Purple’, discovered accidentally by chemist William Henry Perkin in 1856. By the early 1860s, many processes and colours had been patented and a dazzling array of ‘new’ colours were available. Lightweight wool fabrics like the delaine that this sample is printed on were well suited to showcase the new vivid tones of the aniline dyes. 

Vividly coloured printed wools like this were a popular choice for morning and dressing gowns, or ‘wrappers’ as they were sometimes known. These garments were worn in informal situations at home as a comfortable and relaxed alternative to more formal styles. Fabric like this would be warm and practical, yet stylish. Another influence on the patterns seen on these fabric samples is the invention of the steel cage crinoline, also in 1856, which allowed for a huge increase in the width and circumference of skirts. The increasing skirt sizes created a greater surface area for displaying bold, large-scale patterns like this one. 

Robert Hindle’s print works in Sabden was just one of many similar works operating across Lancashire during the 19th and early 20th centuries when the textile industry dominated the county. These samples are a representation of the advances in science and technology that fueled the Industrial Revolution and influenced fashions of the day. 

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