Vichy Check and Kelsch Plaid

Vichy, check and kelsch fabrics are perfect for a classic European look! 

A Brief History of Vichy and Kelsch

Vichy and kelsch are two very different fabrics with two very different histories!  Vichy is a checkered fabric, while kelsch is a style of fabric that could also be called plaid.  Vichy is an area outside of Paris that produced the gorgeous fabric that became known as Vichy check. Vichy was the primary furnishing fabric of the late 1700's and early 1800's.  The tones of Vichy are often faded reds and pinks with aged white or faded blues with aged white tones.  Occasionally I find blue and red check Vichy fabric.

The word Kelsch is a Germanic word, taken from "Kolnisch Blau", which refers to a plant grown primarily as animal feed whose leaves and stems were the sources of an old blue dye.  As early as the 7th century this plant, along with hemp and linen, was the main crop cultivated in eastern France and neighboring Germany.  In the 18th century, the word kelsch came to describe the hand-woven linen and hemp cloths made in the French region of Alsace, usually woven by poor rural farmers.  These textiles were hand woven on narrow looms and seamed together by their selvages to form wider widths for larger textiles. When pillow and mattress covers were created using these wonderful fabrics, they were sewn together in large or small envelopes with openings for stuffing. These textiles were either stuffed with straw or feathers for use as mattress covers, duvet covers and pillow cases.

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Qualities of These Textiles

These woven French textiles are typically made from pure cotton, linen or a blend of these two materials.  Vichy is most often found made from woven cotton, but I do have some wonderful rare linen and blended panels.  Vichy can be a light to medium weight fabric.  The tones of the check are usually beautifully faded.  I find these pieces in small to large fragments, or made into curtains or valances.  Often this fabric is beautifully aged, pieced and sometimes there are wonderful hand stitched patches, mends and darns on these textiles!

Kelsch tends to be found as a blend of linen and cotton or made from pure linen.  It is a wonderfully sturdy material, versatile for many projects!  Kelsch comes in many many tones and striped patterns.  I often find duvet and pillow covers made with beautiful kelsch!

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Uses

These lovely pieces can be used for so many projects!  The duvet and pillow covers can of course be used as they were intended.  Otherwise Vichy and kelsch fabrics can be deconstructed for use as curtains, pillow covers, quilting, bedding, clothing, display, etc!