Novelty Print Skirt – An Alpine Holiday

About ten years ago I really began to love 1950s novelty prints, and especially the many border prints that were made mainly for full gathered skirts.  I was really drawn to the designs that were labeled in the selvage as “A Regulated Cotton – Never Misbehaves”.  As it turned out, these prints were designed by artist Saul Steinberg, who is probably best remembered today for his covers for The New Yorker.

The prints in this series were also named.  A favorite seemed to be “Tin Horn Holiday” which has a sort of Old West meets Vegas theme.  There is also “Oasis” which is an Arabian Nights type of scene and “Paddington Station” with trains in the station.  There are others for which I do not know the name such as a scene of the interior of an opera house, an English fox hunt,  and a roller coaster ride.  Unfortunately the selvages were often cut off in the making of the skirt of dress.

But the good news is that the prints are so distinctive that they are fairly easy to recognize.  There seems to be a standard formula that that Steinberg, or maybe the company designers who adapted his work, used.  First, Steinberg drew in a certain style, using a variety of line thicknesses, from very thick to very thin.  The hem edge always has a coordinating border, as you see in the hearts and birds border of this print.  There is a background that usually goes to the top edge of the fabric.  In this case the background is the Alpine landscape.

Steinberg did not sign these prints because he had an exclusive contract with another fabric company to design home furnishing fabrics.  I’m not sure how many prints Steinberg did for A Regulated Cotton, but they all seem to be loosely based around the theme of travel and leisure activities.  Recently I’ve seen several that I’d never seen before, including this new one.

I rarely buy novelty print skirts any more because they have become extremely popular, and so the prices have risen beyond what I want to pay for them.  But this one was so great, and the price so reasonable that I decided to add it to the collection.  It came from Amy at Viva Vintage Clothing, one of my favorite online shops.

I need help naming this one.  I name all my novelty skirts for a movie or book that the print seems to suggest.  I thought about Heidi, and it also reminds me of the “Lonely Goatherd” puppet show in The Sound of Music.  Any other suggestions?


Filed under Collecting, Novelty Prints

15 responses to “Novelty Print Skirt – An Alpine Holiday

  1. Does this skirt fit you and, if, so, will you be wearing it? It would be such a conversation piece!


  2. Diana Coleman

    I would name it Zermatt in honor of my favorite little town in the Alps.


  3. I recently discovered Steinberg’s work while researching AAA fabrics. I need to check the ATHM collection and see if we have any. I will let you know.
    I also found reproduction Steinberg fabrics on-line that I was thinking of buying and making napkins and placemats. Many of the small design are perfect for that.


  4. Don’t know about naming it, but I love the eyes… particularly those on the goat. To me, they give the artist away, no signature needed!


  5. LOVE THE ART/PRINT- on my way to work in NYC -early 80’s-found a treasuretrove of some poor souls personal effects(probably tossed to sidewalk be bdlg. superintendant(very stupid one)..there were yardsof this (drapery) fabric-“butterfly” chaird…china in this print!..PRE cell phone-by the time i got to the phone (around corner to phone)trash truck had gone!!!!! i was so sick ! can you wear the skirt-it is just great!


  6. This is SO fabulous!!! I love the lady with goat; so much character!


  7. What a treasure! So glad this skirt ended up with you.


  8. I love your novelty skirt collection! I wish modern border prints were as fun and charming! Heidi and Lonely Goatherd were exactly what I was thinking too – can’t think of anything else. Such a great skirt!


  9. As soon as I saw this print I thought of my mother’s The Twelve Days of Christmas Cookbook, published in 1964. It’s not quite but it has the same flavor. Here’s some pics:


  10. Charming! And the name of the fabric series–“A Regulated Cotton–Never Misbehaves.” Someone had a sense of humor.


  11. Fun print! I’d name it Alpenfest. Love the goat and the cuckoo clock!



    I had no idea he was the designer of this print. Really interesting post!!!


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