There’s a lot to get excited about vintage fabrics whether it’s the retro print or a great textural quality, or just the fact that you’re the lucky one who found the piece. But sometimes it’s hard to find a way to make the most of these treasures and bring them into the 21st century.
The idea is to think out of the box. Be prepared to not look like anyone else and don’t expect to use the fabric in the same way it might have been used when it was made. Vintage curtain fabric can make a great sundress (tractors and watering cans out for a picnic). Team them up with trims, other fabrics or colours the original fabric maker would never have contemplated. That’s exactly what I did with this week’s feature garment. It’s an A-line skirt I made a few years ago from a fab vintage find – two tone chunky guipure lace. It’s a synthetic mesh of navy and white daisies with alternating white and navy centres. It came from Carmel’s in Mentone before it closed. They’d got in a stash of fabrics from a dressmaker who was retiring and selling off all her stock.
This type of lace is usually a solid colour and often it’s white. A traditional lining choice might be satin in a soft taupe or pale pink. But this fabric was different to start with. It was bold and needed me to be even more bold to really show it off. Chartreuse green (yes, one of my favourite colours) was the answer. I chose a really good quality linen as a lining to create the contrast and vavoom that turned a nice fabric into a head turning skirt. I never fail to get a comment when wearing it.
I made a simple skirt, shape wise, with just 2 darts on the waist, as anything more complex would not do justice to the chunky daisy pattern which needed a big canvas of its own. The bright green lining is about 25mm (1 inch) longer than the lace thus ensuring the viewer really gets what’s going on colourwise.
A couple of extra gems were added to the back in the form of a vintage zip and a vintage button both of which were already in my collection. The button is covered in fortuitously matching knitted navy fabric.
The zip is a great silver coloured metal zip with a decorative pull. I could have made it an exposed zip but luckily did not – it doesn’t stay up! Not a good look going round with the back of your skirt open especially when you discover this misfortune when you're working in a school full of teenagers! A tiny safety pin now saves the day.
It must be something about the light or the location but you can’t really see the green lining of the skirt in this pic (that wall’s green too, but you can’t tell that either!). The blouse is vintage as well, but not memade – I inherited it from an ‘aunt’ who had been swung round a dance floor in it decades ago. The trim on the hem is another guipure lace but what I love about this blouse are the circular sleeves!
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