Vintage Fabrics Bring Back Memories


We all have those moments in childhood we will remember for the rest of our lives; it could be a person, a place or a thing. For me it was, all three. My Uncle Bill, his workroom and the sewing machines where my sisters and I spent hours creating costumes, clothes; anything we could sew.

This summer my family lost Uncle Bill. He was everyone’s favorite uncle, but he and I had a special bond. You see, he was my mentor. A designer for 50 years, he taught me the tricks of the trade and all his secrets. All of the processes and procedures I employ in my workroom now I learned from my Uncle Bill.

He had a shop in his backyard, just like I do, and as much fun as we had on the sewing machines, the best part of his shop, by far, were the fabrics. Uncle Bill had rolls and rolls of it; every kind you could imagine. There were always remnants of whatever Uncle Bill’s project had been. And we put those remnants to good use. We loved making things and the possibilities were endless.

This past weekend, we (my aunt, cousin, sister and I) cleaned out Uncle Bill’s shop. It was bitter; because he is now gone. But it was also sweet because we touched everything he had touched as we sorted through the remnants of a lifetime of his work.

His handiwork was everywhere in the shop, right down to the boxes of “scraps” he kept neatly packaged and wrapped under one of his work stations. I, too, have a neatly packaged box under my work station but mine pales compared to the volume of “scraps” he kept so thoughtfully tied and stored.

But back to the fabrics I got to bring home with me! These fabrics are amazing; mid-century prints in chartreuse green and white, black and white florals and mod geometrics. I choose classic chintz from the 1960s, 70s style tropical fabrics in pine and orange, wide wale corduroy in blue, pink and green. And lots and lots of barkcloth.

Sorting through the fabrics in my workroom with my employee, and various friends, was like finding a time capsule! We ooohed and ahhed over all the different pieces; remarking about what era they were from, and how beautiful they were. We each had our favorites, but by far, we all loved the Jacobean florals. Thanks to my Uncle Bill, I have them in chintz, linen, barkcloth and basket weaves. The colors are rich and saturated, making them, to me, distinctively vintage.

Why do we fall in love with vintage fabrics so easily and with such excitement? I know for me it’s because vintage fabrics evoke nostalgia of long ago days, good feelings and memories of home.

For those of us who work with or appreciate fabrics, these vintage remnants are a complete joy!

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