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What is…Osnaburg Fabric?

osnaburg fabric dressmaking

We have some some really interesting and unusual fabrics in stock at Livingstone Textiles; some, like this Osnaburg fabric can look quite unassuming on the shelf, so can be overlooked.

A bit of history

Osnaburg is a natural-coloured fabric, looking rather like a calico with visible seeds within the weave; osnaburg fabric has a softer drape than calico even though it has a coarse weave, and generally comes in a narrower width. Osnaburg gets its name from the city of Osnabruck in Germany, where it originated. Originally it was made from flax yarns and then later cotton was used. Around 1700 it began to be produced and woven in Scotland, from where it was exported into England and then on the the British colonies in America.

What is it used for?

Prior to the abolition of slavery osnaburg was mostly used for working garments, but also for higher-status clothing for underthings, linings and interlinings. Today it has a number of different uses.

Clothing and costumes

Osnaburg is much sought-after for historical costumes, and particularly for clothing made for historical re-enactment groups. As a fabric that was widely used for both working clothing for poorer people and slaves, and also by dressmakers for shirts and petticoats, osnaburg lends authenticity to historical outfits.

Craft uses

Osnaburg is a popular fabric with quilters and stitchers because the loose weave makes for easy hand-stitching and embroidery; the natural colour makes a good background for all sorts of projects, and the fabric is sturdy and long-lasting. As a natural material, It is also popular for dolls and soft toys. As a natural fabric, it can also be painted or dyed as your project requires.

If you would like a sample of our osnaburg fabric please contact us and we will be happy to help.

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