Recently I've been using up some of the calico in my stash as backing for baby quilts. They are light and soft and cheap. Well, cheap in my mind since I either bought them long ago or inherited them from mom's stash.
As I was cutting into the last pile I was a bit sorry that they were all gone. Still, I decided to check one more time to see whether I could find a few small pieces or something to add to the leftovers.
I found a few more than expected! Yay, right? After I pulled them out, I started looking through the pile to make sure that they were all calico and to look at sizes. That led me to thinking that maybe it would be good to discuss calico.
Calico is a thin, woven cotton fabric made from unbleached, undyed threads. The selvage is slim and tight but barely noticeable or distinguishable from the rest of the fabric. Generally there's no writing or label on the selvage.
It is generally coarser than other cotton fabrics, but softens when washed. It's about the same weight as muslin and is usually overdyed in small print patterns. One of the oldest fabrics made in mills, it was used for dresses, aprons, and quilts.
It may have more than one color but rarely has deep, rich colors or large prints and are not colorfast because they are cheaply processed. They work well with solids, especially thin, cheap cottons. Calico is used by fashion designers and sewists who create dummy pieces when designing since it is much cheaper than luxurious, expensive fabrics, such as silk, damask, chiffon, etc.
Calico makes great backing for quilts, especially children's quilts, precisely because they are thin and soft after washing. I am thrilled to have found more calico in the stash. I think this may be it, though. I'll have to move on to other fabrics when the basket is empty.