Mourning Grays Black and Gray Floral Quilt Fabric
Mourning Greys by Carrie Quinn
Mourning prints are part of Victorian fashion in the post Civil War Era. When a woman became widowed, fashion dictated that she wear all black, without ornament and a crepe weeping veil for a year and a day. Beyond the first year, tradition stated that the widow should wear half mourning for a period of at least 6 months. This was called Mourning Grays, or sometimes called Shaker Grays. The fabrics were finely printed black on a white ground that appeared to be gray. Gradually colors were added, starting with more somber colors such as deep purple, burgundy and brown.
Purples from this era are often called "Fugitive", because over time the purple coloring faded to a soft brown. The first stable purple dye wasn't widely used until the 1920's or 30's. Prior to that time, the purples were produced by using natural dyes such as madder and logwood. Placing metal salts, or mordents in specific areas of the fabric would produce different colors of purple, red or brown. It must have been fun experimenting and coming up with such beautiful results!