Calico (textile)

Calico is a plain-woven textile. In the United Kingdom, "calico" refers to fabric made from unbleached, and often not fully processed, cotton. It may contain unseparated husk parts, for example. The fabric is less coarse and thick than canvas or denim, but owing to its unfinished and undyed appearance, it is still very cheap. This fabric is called muslin in the United States. As it is an inexpensive and readily available fabric, Calico is often used by tailors in the construction of toile — mockups of a garment for the purpose of testing a pattern. Also known as "Mutton Cloth" is used for wrapping food for cooking underground in a hangi.

In the US, "calico" refers to a printed cotton fabric with a small, all-over pattern, often floral.


The name Calico is derived from the name of the city of Calicut, Kerala, India. It is used a lot in soft furnishing. It has been made by the traditional weavers of calicut called 'chaliyans.'


Calico had originated in India by the 11th century and found mention in Indian literature by the 12th when writer Hemacandra mentioned calico fabric prints done in a lotus design. The Indian textile merchants traded in calico with the Africans by the 15th century—when calico fabrics from Gujarat made its appearance in Egypt. Trade with Europe followed from the 17th century onwards. Within India, calico originated in Calicut.

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