Stitching Times serves up stories, examples and tutorials about needlework related crafts, especially quilting and crochet. Almost all of the projects shown have been designed by Kay Stephenson

Monday, August 17, 2009

A Little Fabric History

More than a year ago I wrote about my book The Home Sewing Reference: Fabric and Notions. For a variety of reasons that book was set aside while I worked on other things. Now I’ve picked it back up and am trying to work on it a bit every day. Here is a sample of what you will learn by reading it.

Hickory cloth [hik-uh-ress, hik-ree] is similar to other heavy duty cotton twill weaves such as denim or ticking, but lighter in weight. It was originally associated with overalls and caps for men working on the railroad and features a blue or black stripe contrasted with natural or white yarns. The name may derive from the idea that it was as rugged as hickory wood, or that garments made of the fabric were worn by “hicks”. Hickory cloth is a traditional American textile known at least as far back as the California gold rush and Civil war.

Unfortunately this special fabric is not easy to find and when it is, it is often mislabeled as denim. However the hand is much more supple than denim. It is a very durable fabric suitable for many purposes.

The photos at left show a bag made of Hickory cloth and a close-up of the selvage edge of this fabric. I made this bag as a prototype for my first Lady Bags line back in 2006.


  1. Yes!! So cute! Where did you find the fabric?

  2. Thanks Corrie. I found this at one of those fabric stores with fabric piled to the rafters. You just know some of it has been on those back shelves since the turn of the century :-). Living in Atlanta we have a few of these independent shops where you can find really unusual inventory.