These antique fabrics from the turn of the century are unexpectedly bright & colorful

Bright and colorful antique fabrics

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When looking at antique black and white drawings and sepia photos of the past, many of us slip into imagining that everything back then looked muted and monochromatic.

It can be difficult to visualize vibrant colors and patterns in those old images — even when we know that they were really there.

Sepia monochrome fashions - antique fabrics from 1900

To help you rebuild that little picture in your mind’s eye, we have gathered images of more than 100 antique fabrics from the late Victorian era — the late 1890s and the early 1900s — although some are older.

These vintage textiles feature florals, tiny patterns, plaids, stripes, dots, paisley styles and other beautiful classic designs, and would have been used for everything from dresses to nightshirts, and bedspreads to sofa cushions. 

It won’t be hard to spot more than a few that would be just as at home on modern clothing and home decor!

Colorful antique fabric samples at Click Americana 10

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YOU MIGHT LIKE: Vintage Women Coloring Book #4: Victorian Fashion Scenes from the Late 1800s

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ALSO SEE: Filled with patterned fabrics, this 1960s study’s boho decor was cozy & eclectic

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ALSO SEE: This gorgeous draped boho-style tented nook from the 60s was a retreat right at home

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Below you will see samples of 69 different antique fabrics that were in production in 1902. These all come from a German chemical manufacturer of dyes, etc. that soon thereafter became best known for one of their very different commercial chemicals: Aspirin.

The company is Bayer, known around the globe still today. (As an interesting side note, “Heroin” was a Bayer invention, and they held the trademark until World War I. It was marketed as a cough suppressant.) All of these images are courtesy of the New York Public Library.

Antique color fabrics with white thread overlays

Colorful antique fabric samples from 1902 4


Vertical patterned fabric with dots

Cotton printing — chrome mordant dyestuffs, slop padded, printed and discharged with oxidizing agents

Colorful antique fabrics from 1902 3


Tiny multicolored floral patterns

Cotton printed fabric — alizarine red and aniline black ground, slop padded with benzidine colors

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Small patterns & stripes

Mordant colors and benzidine colors on cotton fabric

ALSO SEE: Shades of the past: Authentic Victorian house paint color sample cards

Colorful antique fabric samples from 1902 5


Antique color fabrics with stripes, dots and mini patterns

Cotton printing on fabric — alumina mordant dyestuffs discharged with oxidizing agents or with citric acid

Colorful antique fabric samples from 1902 2


Bold red antique fabric samples from 1902

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Various colorful fabric prints and patterns from 1902

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SEE MORE: Antique women’s clothing from 1890: See the styles Victorian ladies were wearing

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