Shaded Threads or Cloth

Three skeins of shaded yarns. Three skeins of shaded yarns. TRC reference collection.

Shaded threads or cloth are a type of material that is dyed, printed or woven in gradations of one colour, from light to dark. It is sometimes called ombré. The term ombré derives from the French word meaning ‘shaded’. It was popular in western Europe from the 1840's onwards.

Printed ombré toiles and chintzes were exported from France and England to port cities in the USA, such as Baltimore, Boston, Charleston and New York. These imported prints were often used for Baltimore album quilts. This type of material is sometimes called fondue cloth. In contrast, a variegated thread or cloth is one that is dyed in two or more colours. The terms shaded and variegated are often (incorrectly) used synonymously.

With respect to a printed cloth, this effect is sometimes called shadow printing.

See also the TRC Needles entries on long shades and short shades.


  • CAULFEILD, Sophia Frances Anne and Blanche C. SAWARD (1882). The Dictionary of Needlework, London: Upcott Gill, p. 371.
  • TORTORA, Phyllis G. and Ingrid JOHNSON (2014). The Fairchild Books: Dictionary of Textiles, London: Bloomsbury, pp. 549-550.


Last modified on Friday, 19 May 2017 17:56
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