The potential of stencils to produce multiples contributed to the explosion of stencil dyeing during the Edo and Meiji periods. Like woodblock prints and popular literature, stencil-dyed textiles supplied an increasingly affluent, aesthetically hungry middle class. The insatiable demand for new fashions at this time stimulated a market for stencil patterns which has perhaps never been equaled in the world of textile design.
In addition to changes in fashion and textile technologies of the time, the rise of commerce and an affluent merchant class in the early 17th century had an important influence on textile manufacture. Because relatively few textiles produced by the stencil-resist process have survived, forming a picture of the application of these stencils must be gathered from alternate sources. Turning to woodblock prints, urban Edo life is awash in stencil-dyed textiles, from gilding on samurai leather armor to simple work clothing, as in the print at right.