1940s | Dresses | Made from Curtains

Bright red violets

July 19, 2012
Vintage floral print cotton fabric with bright red, lemon yellow and pale blue violets on a dark blue background.
Vintage floral print cotton fabric with bright red, lemon yellow and pale blue violets on a dark blue background.
Vintage floral print cotton fabric, vintage glass buttons and cotton sateen for interfacing.

Far too long since I posted here. Sorry about that. Anyway; I’ve had this vintage floral cotton lying around for many years, 4 x 0,75 m all in all, and now I’m turning it into a dress. I have no idea how old the fabric is, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a cotton woven this narrow. Probably pretty old? I got it from a friend who got it from her mother. Its last incarnation was as a curtain, but I think this fabric has been through more than that – when I unpicked the seams I also unpicked a lot of handmade knots and loose stitches in a fairly thick silk thread with tiny bits of cotton wool or wadding of some sort attached to them from the body of the fabric, and it has some wear and tear that simply hanging in front of a window can’t quite account for. A pillow, upholstery? Seems weird for such a thin, flimsy fabric, but who knows?

Skirt of the dress half finished, with interfacing and basting showing.
Dress skirt half finished.

I like it, bright colours and all, and I also have eight vintage lemon yellow glass buttons with butterflies on them, as well as a lipstick that perfectly matches the red violets in the fabric – MAC Lady Danger! – and who doesn’t need more floral cotton summer dresses? So I got hold of a piece of reasonably matchy blue cotton sateen to flatline it with – it’s worn and a bit fragile, so it really needs lining for strength and stability – and drafted a pattern for a vaguely late 30’s-early 40’s-inspired, front-buttoned dress with a simple shawl collar in one piece with the bodice, slightly gathered bust (the lining has darts instead) and puffed sleeves. The print feels appropriate for that period; it’s too fussy and old-fashioned for a 50’s kind of dress, and I’ve been making simple shirtwaist cotton dresses with shirt collars like nobody’s business the last couple of years, so I need something else.

Next project lined up: in theory, I should make a practical, sturdy pair of knickerbockers, in practice I will probably end up making another fictive uniform for the Pride parade – if there is time. I’m beginning to doubt it.

Dress bodice cut, basted, darted and gathered.
Bodice front and back, before I added the collar facing.
    1. I never even thought of that, but it’s a possibility – you’re completely right, the fabric and all the rest of it suggest it, and it could definitely be a Japanese print cotton. My friend’s parents traveled a lot, and her father’s family is wealthy, so a trip to Japan, at least, by someone at some point is not impossible at all. Thank you!

  1. Well if it was japanese fabric for kimono, then it would not be wider than 35 cm. A japanese kimono is made using a “tan” a bolt of fabric 10-12 mtr long and 35-38 cm wide.
    Of course it still could be a japanese cotton print.

    1. Well, I know next to nothing about kimonos and Japanese fabric, so I’m sure you’re right. Any idea what the silk thread remnants and wadding could be about? You can see a bit if loose thread in the first image, actually, in the center of the picture a little below the buttons.

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