Eek! I went a little crazy buying border prints at the beginning of the year and it’s time to start showing them off. First up is this print poodle by John Wolfe. It’s fairly common in terms of vintage novelty prints, but that doesn’t make it any less fun.
I was able to pick up 2 yards, 10 inches of this fabric for a super good deal on Etsy, and sewed it up into a gathered skirt myself. Kind of a junky picture, but you can see here that the poodles ran on one side of the selvage and a coordinating stripe ran on the opposite selvage. I was able to use that upper stripe as my waistband.
This gem can be found in multiple colorways— a lighter blue, a black and blue, a pink, a green, or this tan colorway that I own. I am actually a big fan of the tan, but the black and blue one has gotta be my favorite.
John Wolf Textiles was initially registered as a designer of home interior fabrics, in the early 1940s. They’re well known for their border prints, commonly featuring animals, pastoral and city scenes, and still lifes. They were probably more geared towards with curtains, to be honest. But by the late 1950s, at least, their designs were also being used for clothing.
I’ve noticed that people really like to subscribe prints like this to the 1950s as much as possible . . . but lots of them are actually from the early 60s. I know for sure this one was available in the early 60s, because I’ve seen a Lana Lobell ad featuring a dress made from this fabric!
I LOVE how they used that extra selvage stripe down the center of the bodice. You can actually find this same dress was sold at Sears and JC Penneys, in addition to Lana Lobell’s. Zoom in on that description there— they sold the black/blue, the tan, and the green colorways. But the kicker here— the commercially produced dresses actually had buttons sewn onto the eyes of the dogs!
Just $3.99— it’s a steal of a deal ;)
This is a great example of how common it was for fabrics and designs to not be exclusive. All three stores carried this dress, PLUS any home sewist could purchase this fabric as well. Today, it’s not quite so easy to buy the same fabrics that you see used commercially. Sometimes I see something in our local boutique that is made from the same fabric that I’ve seen at a small on-line fabric shop. Or, some fabric shops carry ends of the roll from designers, so it’s not to say that you can’t come across commercially used fabric, but I’ll tell you it’s much harder, and you can’t count on it. There was a time when you could see a dress at a department store, and then walk directly over to the fabric section and buy the exact same fabric easy-peasy.
I stitched the skirt using vintage methods- complete with sewing the waistband and the hem by hand. So, it may just be a gathered skirt, but I’ll tell you I definitely took my time to get it right. I’ve been reading about vintage methods, so the skirt was a good easy project to practice those handstitches on! Heidi had to get in on the photo action too . . . I would flip if I could find a vintage collie fabric . . . all that love for Lassie, there’s got to be one out there!
A few more novelty prints are coming your way soon, but there will probably be a pin-up related interlude first. I’m organizing my first pin-up contest this weekend, and I’m excited to show it off!
Here’s my week in review:
Reading: my first issue of Vintage Trailer Magazine!
Watching: Two episodes left to go on You! After being a huge Gossip Girl fan, watching Penn Badgley in this role is playing my mind. I’m over here like, “Dan, how could you?! Go find Serena, this is getting out of hand.”
Making/Sewing: The Jane Set from Charm Patterns— Gertie is hosting a sew along, but I’ve been creeping away on my muslin for a little bit here. The top is done!
Listening: I caught up on the America Life’s episode from last week. It was actually a replay of a 2006 episode, but it gave me all the feels. Seriously, bawling. I highly recommend you go back and listen to it. Episode 317: Unconditional Love. As a parent, and as someone who’s worked in an adolescent group home, it totally hit home. The intro was great too: early in the 20th century, a mother’s love was considered dangerous… the government even printed pamphlets about the dangers of mothers holding their babies. Seriously.