Just before Christmas I went to stay the weekend with a lovely old friend of my Dad’s from their glamorous days living in Bahamas in the '60s. Lovely weekend in a smaller version of the Downton house. I LOVE these style of homes – massive, rambling places, filled with hundreds of years worth of possessions. Lots of space, lots of stuff, accrued over the generations. 1930s wallpaper and 1830s furniture... One-pipe heating system rumbling around the house... That only gets turned on one hour a day. A Wurlitzer in the entertaining room and an Aga running full tilt all winter. But the fun part is that my friend's lovely and generous wife heard I sewed, took my to her late mother’s house (equally full on Wes Anderson... A ten foot long replica of hubbie’s WWII battleship in the living room...) and gave me stacks of amazing fabric from the 50s-80s. Truly the most exciting thing that’s happened to me in about 5 years.
Out of all the fabrics - this one above is my favorite. It's cotton, I'm guessing late '60s or early hippy era '70s and the quality suggests Liberty of London. The beauty of the print - look at those birds and snails in the trees - breaks my heart. It's absolutely one of the most gorgeous fabrics I've ever owned. The fabric is - as you can see - printed "longways" with the left side of the fabric a smaller, finer print. The larger trees run down the right side of the fabric. I think these "matching" prints were perhaps designed to be used as a bodice (smaller print) and full skirt (larger print). Which is exactly what I'm going to do. i see a hippyish frock in my future.
Inheriting a stash is like inheriting a little piece of someone's soul. I love that my unknown benefactress - besides having very high standards for quality (very few synthetics here) - had very definite tastes. She had a winter palette which was ruby reds, rich blues and greens:
|I'm guessing his is an '80s woolen. Enough here for a great winter dress|
|gorgeous silk - amazing quality|
|My second favorite woolen. Look at those colors and the rich, vibrant print.|
|Another woolen - this time a slightly odd '70s print|
Then she had her summer palate: All blues, yellows and florals. Again. Amazing quality - there are a few polys and blends in here, but for the most part we are looking at silks, linens and cottons.
|this is an oddly heavy cotton with a big repeating pattern. Almost feels more home dec weight.|
|The bulk of the summer collection - the yellow and grey floral is the right weight for a summer coat, the blue floral is a light-as-air cotton voile - in a great long length. The other blues and yellow are linens or silks.|
|I do see this as either a blazer for a daring man, or a coat for me. The yellow isn't this yellow- it's actually closer to a peach tone.|
And then she had her blouse weight collection. Amazing shirt lengths from Liberty among others. The poly with the trellis pattern is one of my favorites - is has an amazing crinkled texture. Super architectural and really elegant.
|I clearly remember my mother wearing blouses similar to this in the '80s|
|I always think of polyester as "bad" but I think it actually had a certain cachet and respectability in years gone by - due to it's ease of laundering and durability. I was still surprised to see that Liberty sold it.|
|I love this cotton shirting - the stripes are on the bias which I think is a cool feature. My Mom wore these kind of fabrics in her Nassau heyday in the early '70s.|
And then she had her party time fabrics: An amazing lurex - tons of it - enough for a maxi if I felt inclined
All told this amazing stash was pretty much the best thing that happened to me last year. I feel very grateful to my friend's wife for offering it to me. And grateful to the woman I never knew, who collected and cherished this fabric for decades. I suppose some people would put this on eBay, but that would feel like a major betrayal of my friendship with the family who gave it to me. I have been hatching a crafty plan to start sewing for $$, and part of that plan has a vintage, re-used theme. So maybe some of these fabrics will end up being used in my new venture.