ScrapHappy February 2019

If each of us were assigned the task of designing a dog fabric, and we were told, “Include as many breeds as possible, and make them look fairly realistic,” our resulting fabrics would probably look pretty similar.

But then if we were told, “Now put something in the background, I don’t care what,” we might add in bones or balls or leashes or squirrels, but I am pretty sure that not a one of us would come up with a background of sky blue argyle.  Especially not in a color that was more intense than those of the dogs that were supposed to be the main subject, and not in a scale where the diamond pattern was the same size as the puppies’ heads.

Fabric scrap with puppy design. Partnered with an argyle plaid. Sadly, no amount of donations to the ASPCA will free these poor dogs from their badly designed kennel.

In a way these scraps reminded me of the popular patterns of the late 1800s, known as mill engravings.  These shirting weight cottons had unpredictable — and sometimes inexplicable — design motifs, and they are some of my favorite fabrics ever.

A factory might produce several hundred mill engravings a season, forcing designers to throw in almost any motif not out-and-out tasteless in their search for variety.  The results, often simple spaced layouts printed in no more than two colors (usually black and red), could be strange and whimsical, as the examples here show.

Susan Meller and Joost Elffers in Textile Designs: 200 Years of European and American Patterns for Printed Fabrics

Mill engravings, all from France in the 1880s, reproduced in the book Textile Designs.

Because who wouldn’t want jockeys on baboons on their shirt?  Or birds perched on whistles?  Or trompe l’oeil pins sticking through the fabric?

And look, dogs with scrolls.  (Sorry it didn’t scan well, this book is too huge to fit on the scanner.)  But we can tell the main subject from the background.

Okay, leaving these great designs behind and getting back to the present, I got these blue plaid dog squares and all these other scraps in a box I bought when a friend downsized. There were enough to make a small lap quilt for our local Veterans’ Administration Hospital, with a row on the back too.

Puppies and Plaid lap quilt.

Puppies and Plaid lap quilt, the back.

Obviously, this fabric is not my favorite ever.  But I hope it cheers up a hospital room with memories of beloved dogs!

ScrapHappy Day is the 15th of each month. Thank you to Kate and Gun for hosting, and for encouraging all of us!  Please look at the other participants:

KateGun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Nanette, Lynn,  Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, JanKaren,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancy, Alys, Kerry, Claire, Jean, HayleyJohanna, Joanne, Jon and Dawn