Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Vintage Fabric: Remake to Original

 Flea Market Mix Fabric by Cath Holden  Pattern from Charming Baby Quilts     
Quilt Maker MaryAnne Sheffield

The Vintage Vibe in Fabric

Either you love it, or you don't. Some of us swoon over anything that whiffs of the 1930's-1970's, and some of us are purists loving only one era: Depression prints, mid-century modern, or those fabrics we distantly remember from our childhood. Something draws us into them like the first bite into a stick of Beeman's gum. Oh, we remember!

When this fabric line hit my local quilt store, I buckled, and bought a few yards of it along with some charm packs. I took the packs apart, and really focused on the fabric. It was okay--it had some of that vibe, which was probably its intent, but really did not fulfill my wishes for a good vintage reproduction. The mixed media fabric in the line was my favorite, but authentic vintage fabric is hard to replicate.

Let Me Show You Some Examples

Fantastic, right? I find that those who love this kind of vintage fabric didn't necessarily grow up in the era or live with the fabric. Those who do, remember it from a neighbor's or aunt's house, and we get that little rush of sweet nostalgia. We loved that person, therefore we loved her/his things. Fabric Love by Association. Sounds like a diagnosis. 

Design Perspective

My mother will still tell people how difficult I was to take to the fabric store. She made many of my clothes, and I was often allowed to choose the fabrics. I hated this one because so-and-so had something like it, and that one because, etc. Fabric designs were directly related to people. Note: I would have loved anyone who wore something made from the piece above!

Pink or red, dots or circles, I love them all!

All These Fabrics Are 36" Prints

I have to out myself. I recently bought all these vintage fabrics reasonably priced at a thrift store washed and pressed. MCC Thrift Shops in Kidron, Ohio. There are tubs and tubs more! Ask for them in the quilt department. I have some projects in the works for 2021, and these fabrics will be key. Sourcing ahead is important when there's limited availability.

36" fabric was the common width still being produced into the 1960's, and some were still sold in the 1970's. 

Color and print are the easiest way to identify an era to place them. These are just grouped into color schemes.

Many prints are classic, and we still see facsimiles in quilt stores today. What shocks me is how vibrant the colors are with some pieces well over 50 years old.

Often I am struck with the canny similarities between old prints, and ones today that mimic them. What's old is new? Or, what's new is old? Look familiar?

Happy, hopeful colors and prints surfaced during times of economic crisis and war. These are the real thing--not reproductions. I wonder if our fabric lines coming out in the next couple season will be impacted? Small prints for cuter masks?

1976 found me in the fourth grade almost 45 years ago. I had to snap this one up. It would have coordinated well with harvest gold and avocado green.

But the winner is...the cowboys! I could not leave this yardage behind. It's psychedelic-wonderful, and most weird, and I have no certain idea of the era. 1960's would be my guess, but I've been wrong before. Google 'search this image' has even failed me. Have you seen this fabric before? Please let me know!

Come on, Doxie girls.
Let's go sew.


  1. Ok now I have to go on a road trip to Kidron. I love the vintage stuff and have several bins of it. I picked up at auctions that I use to work at for Wendall Wendling and I got a bunch from a neighbor.

  2. Oh man, did I ever love reading this post!! I LOVE finding old fabrics in thrift shops, auctions, wherever. I absolutely ADORE that cowboy fabric. I have never seen it before so I'm afraid I can't help you date it. Are you finding that people like the small prints best for masks? I haven't made that many, but I am getting fairly good at making them quickly. I also wanted to ask you about something else I heard about Ohio. That the antiquing there is WONDERFUL because everything on that side of the country is much older than it is out west where I live. And the prices are better too. Is that true? I have a hankering to take a trip with my daughter and go antiquing!

  3. Talk about a walk/read down memory lane! Beeman's Gum - I can taste it! The memory of checking the pat60tern for yardage, choosing between 36" wide or 45" wide - or maybe 60"! Harvest gold and avocado green - I'm right back in my mom's kitchen. What grand fun. Thanks! Unfortunately, I can't help with the cowboy print, but it is a little psychedelic!

  4. Those fabrics are fabulous, Julie! I can't help with identifying the cowboy fabric, either. Will you be using all of these fabrics in the same quilt? They would be a fabulous side stash to have on hand if any vintage quilt repair projects came your way.

  5. I was going to say what Janice said - here in Idaho we would NEVER find a bin full of fabric, let alone vintage cuts. Jealous! It was fun looking at all your finds.

  6. Yes, some lovely finds indeed! I enjoyed scrolling through your post this morning. Vintage-y fabrics are hard to find here in NZ.

  7. I love your vintage fabrics, and I love vintage quilts, only problem is, they make me wheeze and sneeze even looking at them. There is a shop not too far from us that sells antique quilts all spruced up and sneeze free. I look forward to the world being covid free and my going into shops again.

  8. I love a good mix of fabrics so sincerely doubt that I'm much of a purist. Wish we could find some good vintage fabrics here in our area but it would be a very rare find indeed! Yours are lovely.:)


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Pink Doxie Mama