Vintage Christmas Fabric

If you haven’t been into a fabric store recently, especially one that carries mainly printed cottons, you might be really surprised at the huge selection of prints.  There are novelty prints for every hobby and cartoon character and animal.  There are prints for baby, for John Deere drivers, and football fans.  There are hundreds of “retro” prints, some that could easily pass for real vintage.

I actually have a few pieces in my fabric stash that I honestly can’t say what the ages of them are.  Sometimes the width is a clue.  The above pink and red (and awesome) print is 35 inches wide.  The width is a hint, but not a guarantee that the fabric is older than last week.  I do know that this piece is vintage because it came with an original label.

Isn’t the detailing something?

This piece is also vintage.  It is a border print, and it may look like one side of a tablecloth, but it is cotton broadcloth, and was perfect for aprons, gathered skirts, and dresses for little girls.

This is a piece of cotton flannel that I bought from etsy several years ago.  It was sold as vintage, and the fabric is 35 inches wide, but I’ve never been 100% sure that it is vintage.  I’d like to think it is from 1960 or so.  I adore that script font.

I’d like to add that none of these fabrics have information printed on the selvage.  Most modern prints that I’ve looked at in the past five years or so do have a printed selvage.  “Designer” fabrics are a very big deal in the quilting and crafting world, and many have the designer’s name and even the name of the print.

Don’t miss the enlarged version.

And finally, here’s another mystery fabric to ponder.  I have two eighteen inch squares of this print that I bought at my not so secret shopping place about five years ago.  They are edged by an overlock stitch, which might lead one to think they were meant to be napkins.  However, the thread is an ugly grey.

If this is a contemporary print, then the designer got a lot of things right.  The font looks vintage, as do the colors.  The use of the harlequin type diamond print on the packages looks vintage.  The stylized Christmas trees with the atomic shapes look vintage.  I could go on, but you get the point.  It’s almost like every vintage Christmas cliche in thrown into one print.  Too good to be true?  It won’t hurt my feelings if you think it is new.




Filed under Holidays, Novelty Prints, Textiles

29 responses to “Vintage Christmas Fabric

  1. Just curious…how old does a fabric need to be to qualify as vintage? I know for automobiles it is 50 years. At the huge antique mall in Belmont, NC. …..20 years qualifies as vintage. Is there any kind of standard.

    The only standard I am aware of is if an automobile is 50 years old, it qualifies for a liscence plate that says ANTIQUE.


    • That’s a great question, but there is no good answer. Many places now say 20 years for vintage. When I use “vintage” I’m generally thinking before 1973 (the year I graduated high school), so that would be 40 years.

      I see people online getting all excited by stuff I remember from 1987 or so, and I just don’t get it. But then it is all relative, I suppose.


    • Marge –

      When my husband worked in insurance a few years ago, even automobiles were considered antique/classic at the 20 year mark and could have special plates. (At least that’s true here in Texas.) Clothing is the same – 20 years. It seems like a crazy short amount of time to be considered vintage to me.


  2. S Geiger

    This put me in the mood for a real Old-Fashioned Christmas.


  3. Am enjoying your blog no end & have recommended it to several sewers. Only thing I might note is that to me, current British cotton print designers seem to have a real handle on designing vintage-style prints extremely well. IMHO only!
    Thank you for such an enjoyable & informative blog!


  4. The font on the last piece of fabric reminds me of wrapping paper we had as kids (early to mid 70s). I love the ski print – the tiny pink sweater!


    • One of the reasons I’ve been for conflicted about the last print is the font and the snowman. They both look vintage to me.


    • I agree, this is very reminiscent of vintage wrapping paper. My guess is that if the fabric is not vintage itself, at least the original design is. Have you seen “All Wrapped Up! Groovy Gift Wrap of the 1960s” (published by Chronicle Books)? Leafing through it, it’s amazing to see just how many 60s wrapping paper prints have found a new life as contemporary ‘retro’ fabrics (Michael Miller in particular seems to mine that vein). Some designs are ever so slightly updated (like one baby shower print that no longer features exclusively white babies, or a background colour change) but otherwise remain identical. I’m always amazed that the original designers (or indeed wrapping paper manufacturers, as they’re the ones who would have owned the rights) are entirely uncredited on the selvedges.


  5. I love all these fabrics, but I don’t have a clue about the age of the last one you show…



    I loved your post !


  7. K these are so adorable I can hardly stand it, and I would just about die for a skirt made of your second material. These prints are just another reason I’m so glad I’m finally (slowly, slowly) learning to sew.


  8. I love the reproductions! however, being a vintage person ……..
    I do find the smell is a dead giveaway to dating fabrics. And the dust that comes out in the wash – if you choose to wash.
    Love your blog as usual.


  9. I love the first ornament fabric, very pretty. And the ski print is fabulous!


  10. Lizzie – one thing that leads me to believe that the bottom fabric is actually vintage is the choice of vehicle that Santa is driving. I’ve noticed that a lot of “retro” patterns evoking nostalgia for vintage times often have a modern take on it, and so Santa would be driving a 1957 Chevy Bel Air for example. They most likely would not have done that in 1957 – it would be just like putting a 2013 Camaro on a fabric of today. Not that that is bad, but not often done 🙂

    However, and I’ve noticed this in other vintage holiday cards and things I’ve collected, in the 1950s they were looking back at the turn of the century, and cars from that era, as well as Victorian inspired items. Makes me think of Mary Poppins (1964) for example.

    I could be wrong, but I think that’s a clue!


  11. These are all so adorable! But I think I love the pink and chartreuse ski themed bit of flannel the most!


  12. Christina

    I agree with Mod Betty that it could be from the 1960’s or late 1950’s.The drawing of the car also reminds me of the graphics from the film Around the World in 80 Days (1956). I see a misprint on the snowman’s scarf – registration – so the fabric may have been a “second.”


  13. Love the colors they used in the vintage prints! That’s my biggest complaint about the modern retro prints – the colors aren’t right. Chartreuse is my favorite color!


  14. Lexi

    Hey! Lovely little blog, it’s a nice and interesting read. I have a question about the pink/red bauble fabric. Do you know what its copyright would be? I’d loooove to recreate it but I don’t want to break laws or do anything else wrong! Thanks 🙂


  15. Shelly Sandy

    I would give anything to own that first one with the pink ornaments!!!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.