Linsey-woolsey (less often, woolsey-linsey or in Scottish English, wincey) is a coarse twill or plain-woven fabric woven with a linen warp and a woolen weft. Similar fabrics woven with a cotton warp and woolen weft in Colonial America were also called linsey-woolsey or wincey. The name derives form a combination of linen and woolen. This textile has been known since ancient times; the Bible twice explicitly bans Jews from wearing it.


The coarse fabric call stuff woven at Kidderminster from the 17th century, originally a wool fabric, may have been of linsey-woolsey construction later on. Linsey-woolsey was an important fabric in the Colonial America due to the relative scarcity of wool in the colonies. Many sources say it was used for whole-cloth quilts, and when parts of the quilt wore out the remains would be cut up and pieced into patchwork quilts. Some sources dispute this and say that the material was too rough and would have been used instead for clothing and occasionally for light blankets. It was also used as a ground fabric for needlepoint.

Linsey-woolsey was valued for its warmth, durability, and cheapness, but not for its looks. In her autobiography Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Harriet Jacobs writes, "I have a vivid recollection of the linsey-woolsey dress given to me every winter by Mrs. Flint. How I hated it! It was one of the badges of slavery." Lucy Maud Montgomery uses the term "wincey" six times in Anne of Green Gables: "a very ugly dress of yellowish gray wincey".

Linsey-woolsey continues to be woven today in small quantities for historical recreation and Colonial period decorating uses.

Linsey-woolsey is also sometimes used to refer to 18th century woven coverlets or bed coverings made with a linen warp and woolen weft.

See also

External links


References and further reading

  • Baumgarten, Linda: What Clothes Reveal: The Language of Clothing in Colonial and Federal America, Yale University Press, 2002, ISBN 0300095805
  • Tozer, Jane and Sarah Levitt, ''Fabric of Society: A Century of People and their Clothes 1770-1870, Laura Ashley Press, ISBN 0950891304

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