Understanding Quilt-Specific Colors: Madder or Cinnamon Red

Each of these color galleries represents a color given as a value for “Quilt-Specific Colors” in the Quilt Index Comprehensive Fields. Very specific “quilty” colors often reveal specific fabrics, a specific historical time period, or a particular quilting method. The quilts pictured in these galleries range from the late eighteenth century to the 1940s, and illustrate a wide variety of fabrics and techniques. Some quilts contain examples of more than one of these colors and thus appear in more than one gallery. In addition to these galleries, a good reference for learning more about quilt-specific colors is Eileen Jahnke Trestain’s book, Dating Fabrics: A Color Guide, 1800-1960.

Madder Red or Cinnamon Red and Madder Orange
Madder red, also known as cinnamon red, was a bright red dye made from the roots of the madder, or rubia, plant, and was especially popular in the late nineteenth century.  It is differentiated from another red dye made from madder, Turkey red, because of its dyeing process.  Water was used to make madder red dye, while oil was used to make Turkey red.  The madder reds have thus been less colorfast than Turkey red, and are often responsible for bleeding onto adjacent fabrics and/or fading to a reddish-brown.  Madder orange, related to madder red, could be produced by varying the intensity of the dye.

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