What is Reproduction Fabric?

Mary McMahon

Reproduction fabric is a textile produced to look like fabric from an earlier era. Textiles tend to break down with time and use, and it is often difficult to obtain genuine fabric for activities ranging from theatrical productions to producing vintage-style clothing. Using reproduction fabric, people have access to new fabric in the style they want. Many fabric stores sell this product and can order it by request, and there are also online catalogs available, many of which specialize in a particular era or style, like Civil War or Victorian fabrics and patterns.

People can find reproduction fabric in silk.
People can find reproduction fabric in silk.

Typically, reproduction fabric is made using modern techniques, with traditional prints and patterns. In some cases, people may use traditional textile production methods for authenticity, and can color the fabrics with dyes that were in historic use. This can add considerably to the cost of the fabric, as these methods usually require laborious hand work. This type of reproduction fabric may be used in settings where crafters think it is important to use fabrics produced in traditional styles.

Old wallpaper is often used as an inspiration for reproduction fabric.
Old wallpaper is often used as an inspiration for reproduction fabric.

Companies use a number of sources for prints and patterns when they make reproduction fabric. Some rely on samples of fabric from the era they are working in, looking at vintage clothing, as well as things like photographs of old textiles, museum pieces, and patterned products like wallpapers. These can be used to create facsimiles of historic patterns or to develop new patterns in a style appropriate for the era. Usually, companies try to rotate their lineup of patterns and often have new designs in development.

People can find reproduction fabric in silk, cotton, wool, synthetic fibers, and blends. The fabric content is usually clearly disclosed so people can determine if it will meet their needs. If traditional methods of producing and handling the fabric were used, these will also be discussed. It is possible to obtain everything from velvets produced in a vintage style to plain cotton prints for use in projects like quilts.

Movie studios and theaters are common users of reproduction fabric for period productions, where people are costumed in clothing from a specific time. Some quilters also like to work with reproduction fabric, as do fashion designers who produce vintage clothing or clothing intended to evoke an earlier era of fashion. Catalogs aimed at these groups can be a good source for a variety of textiles at a range of price points, and sometimes it is possible to buy scraps or waste material for projects like quilts.

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