What is Calico?

Calico, a coarse-textured, unbleached, or lightly bleached cotton fabric, is utilized for numerous applications like clothing, bedding, curtains, and craft projects due to its versatility. The creation of calico fabric is a complicated process involving spinning, weaving, dyeing, and printing with intricate designs using wooden blocks.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, calico was widely used as clothing for working-class people due to its affordability and durability, and the process of applying colored designs to calico fabric, known as calico printing, became a major industry in Britain.

Today, the calico fabric is still used for quilting or other crafts, as it takes dye and printing well and is easy to work with. Additionally, it is used as a lining fabric for clothing and as material for practical items like tote bags, aprons, etc.

The calico fabric has its origin in the Indian subcontinent, where it was known as 'kalamkari'. The term 'calico' was derived from the name of the Indian city of Calicut (now known as Kozhikode), where the fabric was originally produced and exported to Europe.

The Portuguese were the first Europeans to trade with India, bringing calico fabric back to Europe in the 16th century, where it became popular, especially in Britain, for clothing and household items. The calico industry in India flourished in the 17th and 18th centuries with the help of the East India Company, a British trading company.