What is Dotted Swiss?

Y. Chen

Dotted Swiss is a type of fabric first made on hand looms in Switzerland in 1750. While there are many variations available, the original look is always the same: a sheer, lightweight fabric with a dotted motif. The fabric, which is usually cotton batiste or a polyblend, provides the background that is usually a muted or pastel shade, such as gray, light pink, or cream. The fabric then has dots applied onto its surface in a number of methods. Single colored or multicolored dots can be woven, flocked, printed, or embroidered, resulting in a temporary or permanent pattern on the fabric.

Dotted swiss is a type of fabric first made in Switzerland.
Dotted swiss is a type of fabric first made in Switzerland.

This fabric is popular for constructing a variety of clothing for women and children. It has made appearances in summer dresses, blouses, aprons, curtains, bedspreads, wedding apparel, and baby clothes. Dotted Swiss appears fresh and youthful on the person, and it is this timeless quality that makes it a good choice for heirloom goods as well.

Notably, the material can be dated by its dots. The size, arrangement, and method of application all demonstrate the original date of fabrication. For example, the authentic, original dotted Swiss is created from cotton batiste, which is a sheer, delicate fabric in a plain weave. The dots are also small.

This fabric now comes in a variety of color schemes. The background may be a brighter color or be made from other material, such as organza. The dots can be larger in size and printed instead of woven. At retailers, it is sold by the yard or as a yardage piece.

The dotted Swiss pattern has become very popular, and is not just limited to fabrics. The term has been applied to other things, including pottery and cake decorating. In both instances, the term refers to the random arrangement of dots that resemble the actual fabric pattern.

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