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Discovered: The Fascinating Fabric Swatch Album of a 19th-Century Englishwoman

A 19th-century Englishwoman's album of textiles
Threads #214, Summer 2021
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I received the most amazing gift five years ago. I was helping an elderly friend clear her apartment of things she no longer had room for. We spent a happy afternoon together, looking at the many items she had collected through her life: boxes of dress patterns, what appeared to be the entire contents of an Edwardian haberdashery, fragments of embroidery, and lace.

Worn pink silk covers a lovingly compiled collection of textile swatches. Each piece hints at the story of fashion, commerce, and women’s lives in the 1800s.
Worn pink silk covers a lovingly compiled collection of textile swatches. Each
piece hints at the story of fashion, commerce, and women’s lives in the 1800s.

Finally, she took out of the bottom of a trunk a package wrapped in old brown paper. When I lifted the paper covering, I knew at once that a treasure lay within. It was a book covered in bright pink silk and as I carefully turned the front cover, its contents were revealed. On the first of more than 400 pages…

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