|Left - 1960s batik cotton, friend's stash. Right - 1940's cactus feedack, Etsy|
The first place I head in an op-shop (thrift shop) is the haberdashery section, you never know what you'll find. Not only fabrics but vintage trims, dress shields, shoulder pads, ribbon, etc.
|Left - 1940s cotton pique, etsy. Right - 1940s rayon, opshop.|
I'm always a bit afraid of using my vintage fabrics though - what if I mess up? I'll never find the same fabric again!
|Left - 1930s rayon crepe. Right - 1940s cold rayon, both from Retro Station|
Hopefully this is the year I overcome my fabric fears.
|Left - 1950s mayan influenced cotton, friends stash. Right - 1950s polished cotton roses, op-shop|
My tips for Vintage Fabric
1. Visit your local thrift or op-shop, and ask where their fabric is.
Have the patience to go through it all.
(side tip - if its a small store ask them if they have anything that's 'really old' from the 50s. It might be out the back and I've found some awesome things just by asking).
|Left - 1950s atomic cotton. Right - 1950s polished cotton.|
2. Make sure you look at the fabric carefully.
Look for fade lines on the folds, thread bare patches, light stains. This is especially important with rayons.
Stains might shift with a soak on cotton, but I've had rayon disintegrate from the stain removing chemicals.
Fade lines can be often be dyed over on cotton, but some rayons oxidise when they fade and the lighter areas won't take the colour.
|Left - 1940s cotton challis. Right - 1930s rayon chiffon, both from Retro Station.|
3. Size matters.
If you find fabric that is 90 cm wide (36 inches) you're probably holding something vintage. The standard 115 cm/45 inch we're familiar with now wasn't common at all in Australia during the 30s, 40s and 50s.
If you need to quickly measure a piece try holding it at arm's length, and across your chest (to your opposite arm pit). On most people that's roughly a yard/meter.
|Left - 1940s birdie and blossom chiffon (rayon), op-shop. Right - 1940s puppy cotton, Etsy.|
4. Etsy and eBay are your friends, and try different searches.
I've always got my eyes peeled searching for '1940s fabric' or 'vintage western fabric', but have you tried searching under other fabric types? Searching for 'vintage rayon', 'novelty fabric', 'pineapple fabric' and 'vintage pique' turns up some interesting results.
5. How much are you happy paying?
I'm not comfortable paying much more for vintage than I am for modern fabrics (although we pay through the nose here in Australia). Roughly $10-12 per meter is my limit.
Online listings have a great range - but sometimes hefty postage costs to match.
I know I sound like a broken record, but it doesnt hurt to develop a relationship with your vintage sellers.
Some of my best dealers have now become close friends - and once they know you're after certain things they'll always keep an eye open.
Talking about cost though - sometimes, you just find a fabric that's too fabulous for words.
With a heft price tag to match!
This 1940s puppy fabric cost a lot more than I would normally spend - but puppies!
Ribbons around their neck!
And enough to make a dress!
Sometimes, a girl's just gotta have it...
Have you ever used your vintage fabric? What are your tips for finding it?