This website displays over 1,900 digitised fabric samples taken from five swatchbooks in the Powerhouse Museum collection. The swatchbooks date from 1837 to 1923. They include Japanese brocade, printed silk, block printed wool samples, block and roller printed cotton, paper and leather samples. They cover a broad range of colours, designs and textures.
Swatches or small samples of fabric have been collected and compiled in the form of swatchbooks for at least 300 years. The Powerhouse Museum has several volumes containing thousands of bright, unfaded samples of fashionable fabric designs, braids and laces ranging from the 1830s to the 1990s. This site contains samples from the 1890s through to the 1920s. Swatchbooks were made and used for a variety of purposes: Fabric manufacturers, agents and merchants assembled large swatchbooks to record and promote the latest fabric designs to markets at home and abroad. The books were also prepared by pattern services who sold fabric designs by various manufacturers. With the increasing variety of fabrics available in the early 20th century fabric shops also held swatchbooks from which their customers could choose the fabric lengths they would like to order. Some of the swatchbooks in the collection have come from textile factories where they were used by generations of printers, weavers and designers as a continuous source of inspiration. Through this site we are providing access to this rich resource for future generations of designers.
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Cloth; Textile design
Cloths; Fabric samples; Textiles