Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Fabric of the Week No. 2


I exhumed this from a tattered white cardboard box filled to the brim with fabrics underneath my antique mahogany bed. What I particularly like about this particular yardage is that it has a history to it. I actually kept a print-out of the email receipt that came with this vintage 1930s/40s fabric that I bought on eBay. This piece of white paper has seen better days but here's what it says:

Subject: ebay vintage fabric win 445348665 Daisies
Date: Thu, 20 Sep 2000 14:46:05 -0700
From: keepcroft@uswest.net
To: mbk2001@megsinet.net

Hello Mary Beth
Thank you for your email regarding your winning bid, and congratulations. Your total is $15.50 + $3.20 shipping = $18.70 total (please add 85 cents if you would like optional insurance)

My mailing address for a check or money order is...(seller, Nan, spells it out)

Bottom of the email is from me, circa. 200o:
>I just won Vintage 1930s Fabric ~ Small Daisies #4445348665. Let me know the total and >where I should sent it.

Then in a pretty blue ink, Nan handwrites: Paid ck #2662 $18.70. Thanks, Mary Beth - Nan-

Anyhow, I love it that I can date the acquisition of this fabric to the day. I've no idea what I was doing on September 28, 2000. But I was likely recovering from a night of swing dancing the night before at Liquid, a local club. I do remember thinking that this fabric would look adorable in a 1940s little short-sleeve playsuit trimmed with orange rickrack that I could wear with my white retro-style Bleyers swing dance wedgies. (I still have the shoes although they're falling apart.) I had this real zest and enthusiasm then for making 1940s clothes. I made an entire 1930s long-legged, scoop-necked pair of overalls with a matching bolero jacket...all from a copy of a Vogue pattern from the era, and this huge, gorgeous length of 1930s pond sludge green silk shantung with a repeat of white and navy blue polkadots clusters. It was quite the sexy outfit, since I couldn't wear it with a bra, and it wasn't supposed to be worn with a t-shirt either. I nervously wore it out on the dance floor at Camp Hollywood in Los Angeles, California. I do remember wearing those adhesive bra cups underneath but that was for support, not coverage. I had some close-calls with my straps, which continually threatened to fall down to my hips, but I managed to swing out and not lose my top. Phew. That whole entire ensemble, I believe, is in the Columbia College Study Collection.

I also sewed a couple of wide-leg, waistband-less pants, one in a white cotton, the other in denim. The former was grand for those hot summer days, but since it was unlined, I had to be careful about what I wore underneath. The denim version looked cool swishing around on the dance floor, but they were heavy. I practically had to pick up the fabric at the knees just to walk around. I think I've given both pairs away, but I have happy memories of stitching both on my grandma's silver green Singer sewing machine, which I'm certain is sulking in my storage unit downstairs.

I have still more vintage fabric sitting in boxes, waiting to be sewn up into something lovely. I can honestly say I've enjoyed acquiring all those old fabric, a good chunk of it from eBay, others acquired at estate sales, even thrift stores. There was a time in my life when I would root, root and root for fabric that had a definite 1940s graphic element. I adored any kind of cute polka dot in cotton, which I discovered quilters also liked too....for different purposes. Where they envisioned recreating Depression-era quilts, I had dreams of saucy Ginger Rogers numbers that I could use to get the cutest man at Liquid to ask me to lindy hop.

I don't wear the vintage attire that much anymore, and I've been slowly donating a lot of it to the aforementioned study collection. I wear a lot more jersey, knits, and jeans! It's funny but I probably wear more of my home-sewn clothes now than eight years ago when I was feverishly watching eBay like a hawk on a chocolate martini and sewing on that balky 1950s sewing machine. Then, I wore what I made for nights outs and special occasions. Now? What I make on my Viking Husqvarna, I wear just about all the time. Yesterday, I was wearing three things I'd made, which would have never happened in 2000.

I haven't entirely lost my interest in vintage clothes. These days when I'm on eBay, I'm trolling for old knitting patterns. I just won Sweatertime, a 1940s instruction booklet, which I wanted for the skirt patterns. I bid on it, and then completely forgot about it until I got an email telling me that I won. Who knows if I'll actually make those skirts?

I continue to swing dance, although not nearly as often. A lot of my energy back at the turn of the century (I think I safely say that without referring to the 19th century) was directed toward this Metra train of thought: "XXX usually comes out tonight. Maybe I should go, then I will see him. " Actually there were a couple of crushes that circulated a couple of times a week at the venues I frequented. One has since married, the other, well, you don't want to hear about him. Anyhow, suffice to say that since my heart doesn't pound for any particular dancer these days has lead me to do other things....like knitting and attending a book club. Boring, I know. Who knows? Perhaps with the warmer weather, I'll be doing more swing-outs in search of a new "luv" connection.

Back to the fabric. If I were to cut it up today, I'd probably make into this Wendy Mullin pattern (Simplicity 4112). Of course, I'd still dress it up with orange rick-rack to match the daisy centers. I'd wear it, with a pair of swingy jeans or a white gabardine pencil skirt.

What would you do with this fabric? It's a lot more overcast sky blue than it appears in the scan. What fabric have you bought years ago for one purpose, and then ended up using years later for something entirely different?

1 comment:

Lindsay T said...

I usually end up repurposing my fabric into wacky kids clothes. I like your suggestions for this blue fabric. I just made a pullover top out of cotton navy/white polka dot; I'd probably do something similar with this.