20th Century Rayon Dress Making Fabric

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Considered the oldest manufactured fabric, rayon is made from cellulose ( often wood pulp), and thought of as semi-synthetic. There are several different ways of processing the cellulose each producing slightly different fabrics such as viscose, modal, lyocell and tencel.

Known as artificial silk when it was first introduced in the late 1800’s early 19o0’s, it soon became very popular as a cheaper alternative to cotton and silk.  By the 1950’s the versatility of rayon meant it was being used extensively often printed in a great variety of fashionable designs and colours.

 

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1960’s Walric rayon shown above is a heavier dress fabric which has a stiffish linen feel.

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this lighter silk crepe like rayon is perfect to dresses and blouses

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Cold satin rayon in great 1950’s geometric design

blpray1950’s silky rayon

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Rayon brocade fabric which could be used for dress making or interiors

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1960’s 70’s interiors fabric in a rayon and cotton blend

 

Check out the excellent blog  by Emileigh of Flashback Summer – The History of Rayon and how to care for it  Rayon blog

 

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David Whitehead & Sons Fabrics

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The Lancashire textile company David Whitehead & Sons originally set up in 1815, came to prominence in the 1950’s having exhibited at the Festival of Britain in 1951. The company produced some wonderful fabric during the 1950’s by artists and designers such as John Piper, Marian Mahler, Jaqueline Groag, Terence Conran and Henry Moore. Many can be found in the V&A collection.

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‘solstice’ by Cliff Holden

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abstract painterly design in barkcloth cotton

Eye catching and popular these fabrics were the height of mid 20th Century fashion and used extensively in interior design. Interestingly the company also provided specialist fabric for the Scott’s 1957 polar expedition.

10171153_762102430474967_987201945_n“After Halfeur” by Pamela Kay

 

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“Eduardo” by Terence Conran design dated 1952

 

Like so many textile firms in Britain the company almost died out, but in 1996 Bernard Laverty bought the company name and now he and his wife Jill Worrall are bringing the company back to life producing the same fabulous 1950’s designs in Lancashire mills once again, just six to begin with, but hopefully more in the future.

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When Jill bought a length of David Whitehead fabric from me for her ever growing fabric achive, it was so exciting to hear her story of the relaunching of these iconic fabric designs. Check out their website and facebook page below to find out more.

David Whitehead website

David Whitehead facebook page

More information about Vintage Fabric can be found by following these links

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Pat Albeck – Textile designer

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Pat Albeck has always been a favourite designer of mine, her career began in the 1950’s designing dress making fabric for Horrockses. Her designs influenced by Scandinavian textiles, French and Italian fashion fabrics.

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By the 1960’s she became well known for designing dress fabric for ‘dolly rockers’ one of the English boutique labels of the 1960’s, very ‘hip’ at the time and known for using model Patti Boyd to model their dresses.

The Dolly Rocker dress below courtesy of ‘OMG that dress‘. So 1960’s..

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During the 60’s and 70’s Pat Albeck continued designing dress and interiors fabric, as well as wallpaper and tea towels, many for the newly formed National Trust.

The ones below of Styal Country Park in Cheshire and the Lake District. both in her distinctive style.

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She worked for several different companies including Sanderson, this is ‘spot and his friends’ which I am pretty sure is one of her designs, an even more familiar one is ‘Italian Garden’ for Osman.

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Daisy Chain (below) was one of the Jonelle range from John Lewis always a best-selling design, available in several colour-ways, it has recently been reissued as part of the anniversary range.

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Primavera (shown above) designed for Osman furnishings in 1960, she thought of as one of her favourite and most successful designs.

Pat Albeck has an interesting and comprehensive website telling her story in detail, well worth a look.  Interestingly her son Matthew married another designer Emma Bridgewater.

Further information about Vintage Fabric can be found at the links below.

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What People Make with the Fabric I Sell – Leah Rose Designs Barkcloth Cushions

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Nora from Leah Rose Designs makes beautiful cushions, purses and accessories using vintage fabric and textiles. She sells them online in her Etsy shop and her Folksy shop.

She sent me a photo of some lovely cushions she made using  1950’s cotton barkcloth fabric..what a great job.

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Further information about Vintage Fabric can be found at the links below.

 

Vintage Heals Fabric from Winchester

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We called in at Winchester on the way home from a short holiday by the sea recently. What an interesting place with some beautiful buildings and a long history,  …..

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As always we searched the local shops for vintage fabric and came across ‘Winchester antiques centre’ in one of the back streets. We found treasure in the form of old curtains from Heals.. it had belonged to the lady who sold it to us. It was so good to talk to her and hear the history of the fabric. She had come back to live in London from America in 1958 and bought both lots of fabric from Heals store on Tottenham Court Road, London. We had a long chat about places we both knew in USA and train journeys we had taken..it made our minds up to visit New York  later this year..I have wanted to visit the Guggenheim museum for ages.

Here are the fabrics I bought..

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1950’s cotton interiors fabric by Peter Hall for Heals, the design is ‘verdure’ in orange and green.

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David Whitehead cotton fabric also from the 1950’s. I think the design is by Jane Daniels, though I don’t know it’s name.

Further information about Vintage Fabric can be found at the links below.

Ideas for Using Vintage Fabric – 1950’s Style Striped Dresses

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I always loved the dresses my mum wore in the summer when I was little. The ones I remember most were striped, with full skirts and a fitted bodice, sometimes the stripes would be horizontal on the skirt and vertical on the bodice.

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Here’s our family in 1958, with Mum in one of her striped summer dresses. (I am the one with plaits!) I think her Mum (my Granny) made it, she made lots of our clothes and was the one who first got me interested in sewing, often taking me to markets in Manchester for fabric.

This blue green wide striped fabric on background of floral sprigs by Crowson is called ‘montana’, it was made for light weight curtains and interiors, but would be great to use for one of these dresses.

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As would this green striped cotton by Lee Jofa, the stripes run vertically, but shown here side ways on.

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From a Dutch magazine advert dated 1958.

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Further information about Vintage Fabric can be found at the links below.

Ideas for using Vintage Fabric – 1950’s Petticoats

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