Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Liberty Longevity

Amelie in Original Liberty "Tana Rose"

It's Chelsea flower show this week.  As budding Gardeners, Sarah and I are both enthused by pretty petals, budding blooms and succulent foliage. We love the outside; getting our hands muddy and seeing the fruits of our fun thrive and grew alongside our children.
I’ve always had a weakness for florals. Especially liberty florals. It’s not just my hippy roots or my love of gardening that fuels the love of pretty petals.
Liberty fabrics are very special. They are an English Heritage, a truly English statement of quality and style and and many of the prints are so well received that they are known by their print names all over the world. Not only were liberty fabrics the first to incorporate subtle colourings and dye techniques brought over from the East, they also helped establish the trade of  block printing to the UK. The Liberty Tana lawn florals are known worldwide as the leading contender in popular floral 
prints .

The Liberty fabrics date back to 1875 when the Liberty shop in London opened andArthur Liberty printed the first of the soon to be famous Liberty Silks. Imported from India, the Mysore silk was dyed in England and then hand-printed with wooden blocks.

Liberty Rosa, A
Liberty’s imported oriental silks were dyed, printed or woven in Britain and France. The cottons were printed in Scotland, Cumbria and Lancashire. In 1904 Liberty took over a print works that specialised in block-printed silks just up-river from William Morris’ works in Merton. It is because of this print works that the company still has such a large textile archive.
"Liberty’s greatest triumph in those early days came from a co-operation with Thomas Wardle, the dyers and printers of Leek in Staffordshire, who also worked for William Morris. Between them, Liberty and Wardle introduced dyes which had until then been supposed to be a closely guarded secret of the East. Delicate pastel tints which they called ‘Art Colours’, soon became described all over the world as ‘Liberty colours’. Silk in Liberty colours were an influential element in the Aesthetic Movement. Liberty’s windows had white painted fretwork screens, and the silks were draped in front of these in graduated tints. They became one of the sights of Regent Street." 
Liberty's: a biography of a shop, Alison Adburgham, 1975
Today designers for Liberty still come and visit the archive for inspiration. New patterns are either designed by the in-house Studio or are commissioned from freelance designers. Each spring and autumn season new textile collections are produced to complement the range of classic designs that are not so bound to the seasons. Some of these latter designs, such as Peacock Feather, date back to the 1880s.
*"Lawn"  used in the description of the liberty cotton describes the quality of cotton used in making the liberty printed fabrics. In the description of cotton, the amount of  threads per cm square describe the quality of fabric. The more threads the finer the cotton is. Tana lawn  has a very high thread count and is 100% cotton.
"Betsy" Liberty print
Liberty prints play a very special place in my heart. I love them. They express a little part of me that I would love to show everyday. The girlie hippy little girl inside me.  The traditional girl I most certainly am!

Amelie in "Lilac"

If you are partial to a pretty floral, take a peek at the unik website.
Here are two of the liberty prints soon to be added to the unik website.

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