Vintage Sewing

Vintage Fabric Inquiry

March 21, 2013

Hello! I’m currently working to get my supplies and materials organized. Most recently, I tackled my fabric stash. I have some pieces of vintage fabric I’d LOVE to know more about. I thought your collective knowledge might be the best way to get some direction,  information and answers.

.These fabrics are all marked, Peter Pan Fabrics, Inc on the selvedges. From what I can determine, they’re cotton. They’re also incredibly light weight and semi-sheer. In addition to being printed, they’re textured.  The lines, or in some cases, grids are raised.

I’ve tried to do some research online to see if I could find more information about them, but there doesn’t seem to be a lot available. Based on what I was able to find, Peter Pan Fabrics, Inc. did file a series of copyright infringement suits against several clothing manufacturers, starting in 1960. And, it appears, they may still produce quilting cottons today.

I’ve found some listings on Etsy and Ebay selling fabric boasting the same maker’s mark, but they’re all flat finished, and heavier.  I’m pretty positive these aren’t quilting cotton, but I can’t say for sure.  Is there a name or classification for textured fabrics like this? Do you have similar fabric in your stash? Do share! I’d love to know more about them. If you have any leads, please leave them in the comments here or on my blog 

I really appreciate your help on this one! You’re the best.

  1. I know of Peter Pan Fabrics. I don’t know if they’re still in business, but they were quite prominent once, I think in the 60s and 70s, but I don’t know how far back they go. These fabrics have the appearance of a cotton voile? They have the sheerness. It’s a bit difficult to tell without being able to feel it and see it in person, but that would be my guess. I also would wonder if they could be a cotton/poly mix? Anyway, I hope this may help a little.

      1. As I was clearing some old fabrics from my sewing room and came across a copyright Peter pan fabric today. When I did a search I found your post. If you would be interested in please email me
        The fabric is in browns within real flowers

        1. I too found some that had the Peter Pan Fabrics Inc printed on the selvedge. It had been my late sisters. It is cotton that she quilted with. Mine is not raised but is brown with white 5 petal flowers inside a shamrock outline.

      2. Peter Pan fabrics didn’t only make sheer fabrics. I love Peter Pan fabrics and have quite the collection. They also have so many beautiful cotton calico prints among other prints. I own both the sheer prints and calico cotton, can’t decide which is my favorite. I am a vintage quilt junkie. It used to bother me that old vintage quilts were made from so many weights, sheerness and texture differences in the fabrics in the quilt. Now I love that is in my tip 3 favorite things that I love most about vintage quilts. Back then they had to just use what they had. So if making a quilt don’t be shy about mixing them. ♡♡♡♡

  2. They’re not quilting cotton. I know very little about fabrics but I do know that. It wouldn’t make sense to have sheer quilting fabric because you’d just see the batting, and it wouldn’t hold up to use.

    This and this suggest that they are now owned by Henry Glass Fabrics, if that’s the same Peter Pan Fabrics.

    1. Henry Glass had already taken over Peter Pan by 1960, but I don’t know the date this happened. Since the fabric is 44” wide it was made probably after 1940.
      Some of your fabric sounds like dimity- (often a cotton lawn but with woven raised lines- very pretty. The most common had single vertical lines (barres) spaced about 3/16” apart. Double barred dimity had pairs of lines, and cross barred dimity had horizontal lines too. Dimity was popular for curtains and lightweight bedspreads. Nowadays it is prized by people who make doll’s clothes, and it commands higher prices than vintage quilting cottons of the same time period.
      Sometimes a flocked floral pattern was added
      I have a long length of lightweight Peter Pan cotton with flat printed pink polka dots. These seem to be slightly iridescent, so the dots may contain plastic too. I know that in the 60s and late 50s, thin cotton fabric with tiny raised plastic polka dots was made. I don’t know who made it, but it was probably a similar process. Your fabric is almost certainly 100% cotton, but not suitable for quilting.
      Dimity is in great demand now. Be sure to mention, if you’re selling, that the lines are very thin and raised, since many people think that dimity is also the term for any flat striped fabric (any width stripe) with alternating thread counts.
      Mine has a lovely silky hand and a high thread count, so it’s verygood quality.

  3. I remember Peter Pan Fabrics very well…my best guess is that you have some lovely dimity cotton, probably 1960’s by the prints. You could do burn tests to determine fabric content. However, I believe that mills began putting chemical finishes on 100% cotton fabric (sold for home sewing) from the 1940’s, to reduce the need for ironing. That could affect your burn test results, and make your 100% cotton dimity behave more like a blended fiber fabric.
    They’re beautiful fabrics–hope you find the time to make something lovely with them!

    1. Interesting point about the chemical finishes. I didn’t know that. Dimity definitely seems like a real possibility now that I’m searching that term. I’m learning a lot today. 😀

  4. I second the vote on cotton dimity. Probably intended for curtains, or maybe a ruffled skirt around a vanity. Could be used for a semi sheer blouse under which you would be wearing a lovely full slip (which would have been the equivalent of a camisole today). Very pretty. Probably just 36″ wide, right? That would help date it as well.

  5. i remember these fabrics–from the early 70s. A friend of mine made a spring prom dress with them (lined of course). They are dress/blouse weight, and are pretty for garments that have gathering or ruffles. Of course they could be used for informal curtains. Wash first to see if they shrink.

  6. No, not meant for vanity skirts (although you could). I second Valerie’s description. 45″ is from early- to mid-1970s. I have one original to my stash from 1972 that is very close to your third pic. Cotton or cotton-polyester (we all wanted new “no-iron” fabrics by 1965!) striped voile. Interestingly, I do not recall the flowery prints coming in any colors other than pinks & reds. Maybe they did and I didn’t notice.

    These were for the summery “babydoll” or “peasant” style blouses and dresses of the early ’70s, such as these:

    I own 4098. Made it in view C in white cotton. Still want to make view B. 🙂

  7. Beautiful fabrics! They may be printed muslin – I’ve been working on an opera costume that is made from 19th century style printed muslin (still made the old way by a company in England) and the fabric looks very similar in weight and even has the lines running through it. Here are a couple photos I posted on Twitter. (The fabric is underlined with a less sheer fabric so you can’t really see the sheerness in the photos.)

  8. Hi,

    These are beautiful examples of a fabric that is called dimity. You have some lovely pieces. This fabric is today quite espensive. It was used for children’s clothes and womens’ summer frocks. My mother had a beautiful yellow dimity dress that I can remember because we were in a field and a grasshopper jumped on her dress skirt and left a grass juice stain which never came out of the dress – it was ruined.

    This was a favorite fabric for small girl’s full skirted dresses and pinafores. It would be perfect in a vintage pattern of that type.

    I always enjoy reading about other’s retro sewing – since I am 73 years old, this is not retro to me! Happy sewing.

    1. Ah Millie, you made me have a memory! The grasshopper story reminded me of Granny telling me that the juice in the grasshopper’s mouth was because he chewed tobacco.

    2. Where can we find how much this fabric costs? I procured a bunch of the thicker fabric, I currently use it for newborn backdrops for my studio. But I have a whole ton of it and I’d like to sell it off, but I don’t want to undersell myself.

      1. Check prices on Etsy
        Popular in small quantities for doll clothes. Whenever I found some, it sold immediately. Cheap to shop too!

  9. 0’s believe it it cotton batiste I am 70 and I used it a lot in the 60’s for childrens clothes and summer dresses COTTON BATISTE is te correct name. G !!

  10. I have some of the same as #3 and a couple other ones in different prints. They were bought at a store I worked at in the early 70’s and I believe the fabric is cotton/polyester blend. I do not recall carrying any fabric titled ‘voile’ or ‘batiste’ or ‘dimity’-those were way ‘old fashioned’ fabrics by the 70’s….so technically not this, but like it, and way before the rage for ‘all cotton’ fabrics began. It is definitely not iron free because a dress made for my daughter 25 years ago needed to be ironed. The fabric must have a finish on it because it is much limper after washing. The store’s name was “Daytex Fabrics” and was in College Hill, Ohio, near Cincinnati, Ohio.

  11. I just bought a set of fabrics similar to this with the texturing and I do believe asset least one of them was Peter Pan fabrics. Are you selling yours? I have many yards of mine I would love to sell.

  12. I have some Peter Pan Fabric. It is a deep rick purple with purple flowers. It’s light weight but not sheer. Can it be from the 60’s or 70’s and 100% cotton?

  13. genuine Peter Pan Fabrics have been around since the late 1800-early 1900’s. I have an original sizing chart wood framed tin sign with a manufacturers date at the bottom right that says 1918. Very old company pre everything mentioned, just thought i’d throw that one out there, thanks

    1. Can’t be 1800’s. Play was first produced 1904 to 1906. Book published in 1911. Is your sign for Peter Pan fabrics?

  14. Sheer, textured fabric such as yours is called “dimity”, at least the ones with the lines going through like stripes. I have some of the same fabric! Love vintage!

  15. I bought some really cool Peter Pan Inc fabric at a thrift store yesterday, my intention was to make curtains, but when I saw the name I couldn’t bring myself to cut it!

  16. Dear Madam:
    I have a piece of Peter Pan Fabrics that is cotton and have floral print with a slate blue color for the backing. I know very little about fabrics but are looking for this particular fabric. Thanks for your time, Eve A Ward

  17. I picked up several pieces of Peter Pan at an estate sale; small pink & blue flowers on blue, another with pink flowers on purple…very pretty. Thanks for all the information.

  18. I have a few issues of Fashion Service magazine from the late 1920s, and these include several ads for Peter Pan fabrics. They were garment fabric, for dressmaking. The ads claimed the fabric is colorfast and does not need shrinking, so, if cotton, it’s preshrunk.

    1. Can anyone how far back the company goes we have a izannah walker doll with this fabric trying to figure out her worth .. thanks

  19. I just inherited some quilt blocks and fabrics. While searching the fabrics I came across this conversation thread. It sounds like some of my squares are definitely dimity fabrics, sheer, raised lines. Beautiful fabrics.

  20. I just sewed some dresses for my granddaughters, and I used some of my grandma’s stash. Peter Pan Fabrics INC – royal blue with pink/red flowers . My daughter is going to get a kick out of this information!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.