As a quilt historian and appraiser, I have often been amazed by the quilting and needlework done throughout our textile history. I hope to be able to share the stories of the quilts, how they were made and their makers. Rebecca Blosser
August 18, 2023 Chintz - what it is and how it was used
Double chintz borders on a circa 1835 quilt.
Chintz is a cotton textile which is printed with designs featuring flowers and other patterns in different colors, typically on a light, plain background. It originated in Hyderabad, Indian the 16th century and is identifiable by the designs and the shine of the fabric due to a glazing process. As a final step, most chintz was glazed by applying pressure to the cloth. Early glazes could be starch or wax (both temporary finishes), or a later a more durable chemical resin.
By 1680 more than a million pieces of chintz were being imported into England per year, and a similar quantity was going to France and the Dutch Republic. These early imports were probably mostly used for curtains, furnishing fabrics, and bed hangings and covers. Gradually chintz became more popular and started to be seen in clothing.
With the Industrial Revolution, European factories were finally able to produce the fabric on their own. With the invention of colorfast dyes and copperplate printing, European chintz could be manufactured with virtually the same look and feel as imported textiles. These techniques were brought to the booming American textile mills by the late 1700’s.
The chintz craze continued into the 1800s, going out of favor by 1850. As chintz fabrics aged they often lost their glaze and became dulled. The words "chintz" and "chintzy" began to refer to clothing or furnishings that were out of style or too cheap, low quality, or gaudy things, and similarly, to personal behavior.