What I (Almost) Didn’t Buy

I don’t talk a lot about my age here because I’ve never thought that it was terribly important.   And when I was younger I always hated it when middle aged people made “old people” jokes as if they had one foot in the grave.  Today, I’m that middle aged person, and I still don’t like how every forgotten thing becomes a “Senior Moment,”  but I did have a moment this week when I’ve got to wonder what has happened to my thinking.

I was in a favorite thrift store, after several hours of non-productive treasuring hunting.  Usually when this happens I become desperate and will latch onto the first remotely interesting thing that catches my eye.  But that day, for some reason I took the opposite approach.  A stack of cotton fabrics proved to be only a selection of 1970s and 80s calicos, but one print looked a bit interesting.  It was a modern interpretation of a village.  I immediately thought I had something, but some nag in the back of my thought said, “No, that’s just another 70s quilting fabric.”

Without really giving it a good look, I flipped through the rest of the stack, and finding nothing, left the store.  Several hours later, the little village fabric popped back into my thoughts.  Suddenly, in hindsight, the fabric looked not 70s at all, but  50s.   Since the day had been completely fruitless, I decided to traipse back across town to the thrift and buy the fabric.

I got back there and thankfully the fabric had not sold, and yes, I was right, this WAS a 1950s print.  I paid my dollar and left with my prize, which is what it is because when I got home and did what I should have done to start with – look at the selvage – I was met with a magical group of words:

“Fuller Fabric ‘Sainte Adress’ by Raoul Dufy A Modern Master Original”

I’ve written about this line of fabrics before.  In 1955, Dan Fuller of Fuller Fabrics approached Picasso, Miro, Raoul Dufy’s widow, Leger and Chagall about using their artwork for a special line of fabrics.  They all agreed, and the Modern Master line was born.  The fabrics could be purchased by the home sewer, and they were also used by American designers such as Claire McCardell, Mollie Parnis and Tina Leser.   At the time, the fabrics and Fuller received a lot of attention in the press, with a feature in Life magazine, and another in American Fabrics.  The Fuller Company made their own little promotional film that shows Mr. and Mrs. Fuller visiting with the artists, and talking about the fabrics.  Fun!


Filed under I Didn't Buy..., Novelty Prints, Textiles

15 responses to “What I (Almost) Didn’t Buy

  1. I collect vintage cityscape prints, so that fabric would have gone straight into my basket, but I would have developed sweaty palms and a nervous chuckle had I spotted that selvedge in the store! What a great find.


  2. Fabulous fabric! Thanks for sharing.


  3. my sentiments exactly re the senior moment thing.as for thrifting, it is a complex and exhausting ascience and an art. i WENT BACK yesterday for a NWT 60s/70s half apron with built in pot holder. that i passed on the first time i saw it as too dear-$3. i will tweet the listing later today.


  4. adorable. what are you going to make?


  5. DayBeforeYesterday

    Really enjoyed this article…it hit home!


  6. Hee hee! I’m glad you went back–that’s a great print!


  7. What a great story. If I ever start thinking about something that I’ve passed up in a shop, I’ve learned to go back, because if I don’t it will be gone, and I remember it forever (which is very irritating!)


  8. Ah, what a fabulous fabric find and I love the video. Thanks so much for sharing it! What I wouldn’t give to have a Miro designed fabric!


  9. Lizzie, My mother-in-law was very avant-garde. She had a bank of drapes for her entire living room wall made of a painting of Picasso. Unless there were other companies doing these fabrics, they must have been from the Fuller Modern Master series. She left them to me, but, alas, they burned with my home in the Oakland Hills fire, so I only have a memory. My mother-in-law would have known exactly, of course, but I never thought to ask her. I was fascinated by the film, but it stalled just as Fuller was beginning to show Picasso the fabrics, so I’ll have to do some more checking to find the fabric. Thanks for the wonderful information which will allow me to research the fabric!


  10. Wonderful! Hilarious. Lucky You!


  11. Pingback: American Fabrics, Fall, 1950 | The Vintage Traveler

  12. Pingback: Tina Leser Designs Using Modern Masters Fabric – 1956 | myvintage Tina Leser Designs Using Modern Masters Fabric – 1956 | vintage and news

  13. Nancy

    I just came across 3 yards of fuller fabric modern masters raoul dufy courses a deauville today! I had no idea! Trying to research wish I could upload a pic!


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