William Morris Strawberry Thief

28th July 2014

Strawberry Thief is one of William Morris’s most well known repeat design. The process of printing it in 1883 meant it would have taken days to complete the process, and therefore it was one of Morris & Co.’s most expensive cottons. Despite the retail cost, it was one of Morris’s most commercially successful prints.


Morris designed the fabric whilst at his country home, Kelmscott Manor in Oxfordshire. His inspiration was watching the thrushes steal the strawberries out of his garden which is where the name derives from.

To print the pattern Morris decided to use a method called indigo- discharge, which he admired as a form of printing. He attempted it first in 1875, but did not manage to produce it in a high quality way until he moved, in 1883, to his factory at Merton Abbey Mills. Strawberry Thief was the first design using the technique where the red (alizarin dye) and yellow (weld) were added to the basic blue and white. This means, at the time of print, this was a really modern fabric, with complex and intricate designs within the fabric, which today still look beautiful.

LB 4


Check out our range of strawberry thief design products- including table cloths, place mats, napkins, aprons and bags!