When a fabric is described as a ‘document’ print or weave it means that it has been copied fairly faithfully from an old sample, pattern or sketch found in a museum, a historic building or a textile manufacturer’s archive.
Scraps of materials and papers found in restoration projects provide fascinating possibilities, confirming or extending existing archive materials. New interpretations usually include a number of original colourways, plus a few contemporary interpretations. In my experience, the originals are almost always the best and most appropriate to use; perhaps because the colourings belong to the same era as the design and there is an innate integrity which is hard to replicate. It is very useful for restorations that intend to re-create the period exactly.
The V&A museum in London has the world’s largest collection of document textiles. They are available for anyone to look through.