William Morris Eyebright

26th April 2020

We’ve always been drawn to William Morris Eyebright design since it’s so versatile and timeless. One thing we love about Morris designs (additional to the actual designs themselves of course) is the stories behind them. The history that comes with his designs and the stories behind them are so unique. We thought we’d talk about Eyebright today.

We could never pick a favourite design, that’d be too hard.


Designed in 1883 by William Morris, Eyebright was never actually destined to be a principle design. It was initially designed to be a lining fabric; what a waste if we never got to see it because it was used as a lining fabric! Though what a fabulous lining that would have been…

The diagonal pattern is said to have been inspired by a 15th century Italian cut velvet, acquired by the South Kensington Museum.

Indigo discharge technique

Eyebright was printed using the indigo dye method, perfected by Morris. It’s a way of printing that’s super arduous, taking three days to prepare. Very much generalising the process, the cloth was dyed in an indigo vat so that the colour was uniform, then bleached with a bleaching reagent to reduce the base colour to the desired shade. When the colour was reduced as much as desired, mordants were applied to the bleached parts that had been printed and the cloth submerged in a madder vat to give the proper tint. The excess colour was then cleaned off, then, so the coloured wouldn’t run, the colours were set at boiling point, passing the fabric through soap. The cloth was then laid outside to dry, print side up which purified the white of the design. A labour intensive job then!

Waiter Crane is famous for telling a friend a story about Morris printing at Merton Abbey works. He called in to see his friend and, “hearing a strong cheery voice call out, ‘I’m dyeing, I’m dyeing, I’m dyeing”! Morris famously constantly walked round with hands and forearms stained blue from his work perfecting the technique.

Printed and manufactured in the United Kingdom

All our fabric is printed in the United Kingdom and all products manufactured here too. We think that’s important; it reduces footprint transporting products and it’s how Morris did it which is important for authenticity for us. It also means we have full control over quality! All our William Morris designs are licensed and printed both size and colour wise to our own specifications to best fit our products. If you’re UK based and would like a sample, please contact us on social media or email and we’ll get one out to you!

Be sure to check out all our Eyebright products and fabric!