Tag Archives: Novelty Prints

Bill Atkinson, Glen of Michigan Shorts Set; Early 1960s

Bill Atkinson for Glen of Michigan is one of those labels that one has either never heard of, or that brings back fond memories of great sportswear.   From 1950 through 1970 architect  Bill Atkinson was the designer at Glen of Michigan.  Atkinson accidentally found he had a talent for fashion after he designed a square dance skirt for his wife.  Made from eight bandannas, the skirt was a big hit.  Atkinson decided to make them to sell, and found a company willing to take on his order, Glen Manufacturing, a maker of women’s house dresses.  In 1951 he released his first full line of sportswear separates.  This set falls in the middle of Atkinson’s career at Glen, sometime in the early 1960s.

Sets like this one are enough to make one long for the days when the American sportswear industry was at its best.  Today the cute kite print would be expected to carry the entire design, but a quick look at the details of this blouse show the types of things that made Glen special.  It would have been simpler to have all the buttons one color, but there are three different colors used, all pulled from the print.

The buttons on the sleeves are all different, and the other sleeve has a different combination.

I forgot to photograph the outfit with the shirt tucked in, but included is the matching belt.

This looks like a skirt, but it was culottes, and in most places a girl could have worn this set to school without bringing the dress code police running.

The shorts even have side seam pockets.

As I’ve said before, it is always a treat when I find all the components of an outfit.  So many times the belts are lost or separated from the set when donated to a thrift store or when an estate is sold.  In this case the seller had bought the entire contents of an estate, and all I had to do was wade through the piles of clothes to locate the matching pieces.


Filed under Novelty Prints, Vintage Clothing

An Engineered Novelty Print, 1950s

Click to enlarge


What you are seeing above is one of two halves of a print that was designed to be made into a circle skirt.  Circle skirts were a huge fad in the 1950s and into the early years of the 1960s, and there are dozens and dozens of prints to be found.  Many are an all over print that the sewer cut the skirt from in regular fashion.  Some were border prints that were designed to be made into gathered or pleated versions of the skirt.  One could even buy pre-printed pie wedges that were sewn together to form the skirt.

But this is the first time I’d ever seen an actual half circle printed onto the fabric.  I got this from another collector who I found through Facebook, of all places.  I’ve finally found a use for Facebook – finding stuff to buy.

I know I don’t have to explain why this print had to be in my collection.  The ski theme combined with a passion for novelty prints made it easy to set up a deal for this print.

According to the other collector, she got this fabric from a seller in the United Kingdom.  I already thought that the print had a certain European look to it.

What made this really interesting was that one of the two pieces was stamped with the rectangle you see above.  For the life of me I could not figure out what language this was, but sharper eyes at the Vintage Fashion Guild pointed out that this was actually in English.

____________AND WASHING

SDC is the Society of Dyers and Colourists, which is a British group that dates back to the nineteenth century.  That knowledge does not help date the fabric, but it does mean that it was made in the UK.

UPDATED, (but still open to interpretation!):


Unlike the printed wedge-shaped skirt pieces that were made in the United States, there are no instructions printed on this fabric.  It is possible that it came with instructions on paper, but if so, they have been lost.

Novelty prints are having a bit of a moment in the vintage world.  I started buying travel themed skirts about twelve years ago, and I never paid more than $35 for one.  Now they are bringing three or more times that, and there are many collectors who are always looking for the rarer and more desirable designs.  High on the list are two skirts that were licensed from Disney’s Lady and the Tramp.  Both skirts were of the printed wedge variety.

Also highly desired are skirts made from fabrics designed by artist Saul Steinberg.  There prints are not signed, but all are stamped  “A Regulated Cotton – Never Misbehaves” in the selvage.

Of course, being highly desirable means that these prints are now being reproduced.  The Lady and the Tramp print is being made as a border print, and at least two companies are making clothes from modern adaptations of Saul Steinberg fabrics.

To see examples of the printed wedge fabrics and to see vintage catalog pages of novelty prints, there is a great Facebook media set.

I had planned to turn the fabric into a skirt, but now that I have it I think it is more interesting as fabric panels.


Filed under Collecting, Novelty Prints

Mid Century Cocktail Aprons

I’m seldom so literal, but when I say cocktail apron, I mean an apron with a cocktail print.  Why settle for a fancy, frilly thing when one can have cocktails on (and off) the apron?

This is the first one I bought, some years ago.  It remains my favorite because of the colors and the simple drawings.

This one is a bit old-fashioned, and a lot more realistic.  What sold me on this one was the waistband, which was engineered to be used for the waist and ties, and perhaps as pocket trim.  I also love the recipes floating  around the drinks.

The maker of this apron tried to stretch her fabric too far and ended up with a skimpy look.  No matter; the print makes up for it.

This is a border print, but the waistband is made from the large part of the print.  These prints almost always included a smaller print (as in my yellow apron) that was to be used as the waistband.  I bet our sewer was trying to use up a bit of fabric leftover from another project.

How about that weird perspective?  A touch of the modern.


Filed under Novelty Prints

Guest Blog – 1950s Travel Fantasy Skirts

I must have done an okay job with the first one, because Collector’s Weekly asked me back to do another blog post, this time on my collection of travel themed border skirts.

I love how these skirts give us a little glimpse of how Western people in the 1950s viewed other times and cultures.  I could write a whole other post on that subject, but Lin at Vintage Voyager has already taken a close look at those with an Arabian theme.

The print above is from Regulated Cottons, Inc. and is titled “Tin Horn holiday.”  It’s a sort of Wild West Goes to Vegas theme!  This particular anonymous artist did other prints for Regulated Cottons including “Oasis” and one depicting a fox hunt.  I had that skirt years ago and unwisely sold it on ebay.  The hunters and hounds were all decked out and ready to hunt, and found a fox who was sitting on a “No Hunting” sign!


Filed under Collecting

My New Favorite Novelty Prints

Need I say more than what you can get from the photo?  This is the print of my dreams.  I found this at the Charlotte Flea Market on Friday, and at first I doubted that it was actually vintage, as the design is so modern.  But after doing a bit of research, and taking the info from the sales lady into consideration, I’m convinced this is from the early 60s.

It was made by the Leon B. Rosenblatt Textile Corporation, which dates at least to the late 1950s and seems to still be in business.  I could not, however find any Rosenblatt textiles that were actually for sale, and there is no website.  I did find a phone number, which is located in NYC, but the line is busy,busy, busy.

Anyhow, I’d be very surprised to learn that this was made in the last 30 years.  It just has the feel of a 60s cotton.  But I’m a big girl.  If you know more about this, please get in touch, even if the news is bad.  I can take it.

The bad news is that I only have the pieces you see above, and there is not even a complete repeat of the design.  This was an unfinished project, the beginnings of a beach bag perhap made from the scraps remaining from a beach cover-up.  I’ll be looking for more

And then there is this great early 60s golf print:

I pulled this out of the Goodwill clearance bins, and immediately thought of a print that Carol of Dandelion Vintage has for sale.  Actually  I thought they were the same until I compared my print with here.  A little different, but I’d think they were made by the same manufacturer.  My shirt has no label; Carol’s is by Evan Picone.  Both are super cute, and both have that great 19th Hole feature!

Leave a comment

Filed under Novelty Prints, Vintage Clothing

Travel Fantasy Skirts

I found this super travel themed fabric in a box at the Metrolina Flea last month. Because a former owner had mutilated it, there was not enough fabric to make a waist band, even for a short person like me, so I gathered it onto a grosgrain ribbon.  It think it is sweet!

On a similar note, here is a 1950s belt decorated with the logos of 4 airlines, BOAC, Swiss Air, Pan American, and KLM.  These wide belts were perfect with  full skirts, and I’ve paired this one with a great Japan themed one I just received from Vintage-Voyager.

Last year, the designers and department stores had discovered these themed skirts, and for a while they were next to impossible to purchase for a reasonable amount on eBay.  But the fad has cooled, and now the travel fantasy skirts are left to the vintage loving women who have been buying, and wearing, them for years.


Posted by Vintage Voyager:

I love how you’ve accessorized the Fuji skirt, and the luggage one looks superb too! Ah, time to work on the collection again…

Friday, May 12th 2006 @ 1:33 PM

1 Comment

Filed under Novelty Prints, Vintage Clothing