1950s Harlequins

I’ve always loved harlequin prints, so I was really excited to spot one at the flea market last week. At first I just saw the diamond shapes, but when I pulled the fabric out of the stack, I was delighted to find that it was a border print with aqua and yellow harlequins  emerging from the diamonds!  Best of all, there are almost four yards of it.  Now, what to do; what to make?

In the 1950s, when this sort of thing was popular, the most likely use would have been either a full pleated skirt, or curtains for the kids’ room.  I’m seeing a cute bateau necked tunic, or maybe a swimsuit with cover-up.  Any suggestions?

I’m not sure why harlequin designs were so popular in the 1950s, but I’m looking into it.  In the meantime, here is a page of harlequin-inspired designs from Emilio (Pucci) of Capri from a 1957 McCall’s mini-catalog.

And from the fall 1955 American Fabrics,  a sample of a harlequin print in a taffeta with a sheer silk organdy to match:

And, of course, a few more views of my latest love:


Posted by MS:

Oh my gosh, that is incredible fabric! I am afraid I would have to make a really full skirt of that & wear it with a red halter top & red espadrilles. 

And that Emilio of Capri ad is fantastic! I have that pattern on the top left & I can’t bear to part with it…

Sunday, April 4th 2010 @ 11:04 AM

Posted by Inky:

AAAHH!! FABULOUS!! And you know how i love the border prints – what a lucky find! 

Sunday, April 4th 2010 @ 11:23 AM

Posted by Em:

All of it is wonderful–if it were mine, I’d make a skirt with the red and white fabric. Really loved the black and tan fabric swatches as well. 

Sunday, April 4th 2010 @ 12:35 PM

Posted by Debi:

What a find! It’s FABULOUS! Can’t wait to see what you make! 

Sunday, April 4th 2010 @ 1:40 PM

Posted by Sarah:

You can’t help but smile at your lovely fabric with the cheeky little harlequins. Looks like the designer had a lot of fun with that! 

Monday, April 5th 2010 @ 4:26 AM

Posted by Couture Allure:

Love this fabric! You find the most wonderful stuff, Lizzie! 

Tuesday, April 6th 2010 @ 5:00 AM

Posted by Tracy:

Please do tell…what flea market were you visiting? I have been having a terrible time finding flea markets (that don’t sell plastic junk) in my new location and I must be feeling nostalgic for flea markets back home. 

Tuesday, April 6th 2010 @ 6:56 AM

Posted by samsara:

Spectacular! I love this. I love the idea of a full skirt with a boarder of harlequins, but I’d probably want an A-line dress. Circus themes always come back in fashion, but the harlequin renaissance needs to happen now! 

Tuesday, April 6th 2010 @ 9:01 AM

Posted by Lizzie:

Tracy, I found this at the Charlotte monthly flea at the Metrolina Expo grounds. That one actually is not as great as it used to be, as there are now 2 antique fleas in the Charlotte area. There are great flea and antique markets all over the country, you just have to look and ask other collectors where they go. The other good ones near me are the twice-a-year market at Liberty, NC, the Labor Day one in Hillsville, VA, and the monthly Scott’s market in Atlanta. 

Unfortunately, all of these have a fair amount of junk, even the Liberty one that advertises that it is all antiques. Hillsville is the worst, but there, anything goes.

Tuesday, April 6th 2010 @ 11:51 AM

Posted by Lizzie:

I’m so glad I’m not the only one who sees this as charming. I was having this imaginary conversation in my head, where I’m a contestant on Project Runway: 

Heidi: I would NOT wear that print.
Michael: (shaking head from side to side) What were you thinking to pick that print?
Nina: I’m worried about your taste level.

Tuesday, April 6th 2010 @ 11:54 AM

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