Dimity is another fabric that has been made since the 1800s— it is the weave that gives it its name. Most of the dimity made long ago was wool. The dimity we see from the 1900s is usually cotton, and certainly doll dresses made of dimity between 1900 and 1960 are 100% cotton.
Regular dimity has a woven line through it. Window Pane dimity has a checkered weave pattern giving it the look of little squares. Since 1960, fabric companies keep trying to duplicate the old cotton dimity, making it with cotton plus polyester, but it is not the same, if you handled both you could easily see the difference. If you are buying dimity fabric for heirloom doll dresses, just make certain it is 100% cotton, and you can’t go wrong.
You will find if you look for it on eBay you will pay a premium price, because there is no fabric that makes more charming heirloom dresses! Unhappily, uneducated fabric sellers tend to think any fabric with any kind of line in it is “dimity”, so you have to be careful. One sure clue is the width: old dimity will be NO WIDER THAN 36′ WITH BOTH SELVAGE EDGES, and frequently will be even narrower– from the 1920s it may be only 28″ wide with both selvages. When I am shopping for it I will not consider any that is wider than 35″, with both selvage edges, then I KNOW it is old. I highlight the both selvages because if they are missing, you may have a polyester fabric that with the selvages was originally much wider, and the edges have simply been trimmed off to make a narrower fabric. I see this happening a lot on eBay since real dimity from before 1940 commands very high prices. The dresses in pictures accompanying this post are dimity dresses, click here to see more pictures. All of the dresses in the pictures with this post are 1930s vintage fabric.
Here are pictures of two different 1930s dimity fabrics: (click pictures to enlarge)
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