This post is particularly relevant as it is Makers for Fashion Revolution Week, a campaign which asks the question “Who made my clothes?” Whilst I make most of mine it has set me off thinking more about where the fabric I buy has come from. I am sometimes guilty of succumbing to the temptation to buy lovely new fabric without too much thought about how or where it was made.
However, I do also buy secondhand fabric and we spend a LOT of time in Chichester’s charity shops, usually doing a trawl of most of them on a Saturday. Our favourite, as I’ve probably mentioned before, is the St Wilfrid’s Hospice Retro & Vintage shop at Eastgate Square.
Over several recent visits I’d noticed a folded piece of fabric tied with string and labelled “?1960s vintage fabric”. I picked it up more than once but the colours weren’t really what I would normally pick so back on the shelf it went. I eventually decided that at £6 I might as well just buy it! There turned out to be three large pieces – I’ve not measured them but there is at least enough for a dress and a skirt.
On further inspection I spotted the wording on the selvedge and did some research.
I discovered that a Conrad Von Hamm moved to Hawaii from Germany in 1890 at the age of 20 where he worked for a successful local businessman named Alexander Young. He later married the boss’s daughter and he and his father-in-law set up the Von Hamm-Young Corp.
After his father-in-law’s death in 1910 Conrad took over and expanded the business and as well as selling machinery and automobiles he began to produce fabric under the name THC Hawaiian Textiles. Apparently any fabrics with a VHY tag is from the 1950s – 60s, THC means that it was produced in the 1960s-70s so the shop label was correct.
Here’s the fabric in all its glory. I’ve no idea what type of fabric it is. When I visit Ditto Fabrics at the weekend I will ask for an expert opinion.
The design has started to grow on me since I posted the image on Instagram and had several positive comments! I think I might try making a dress using Simplicity 1609 as this is a re-issued 60s pattern. I’ve already made a bedsheet toile.
I would dispute the term Jiffy in relation to this pattern as there are a lot of darts to sew – neck, bust, back and seam – but miraculously the bodice is a perfect fit so no changes needed there. I cut the 10 but did need to reduce my seam allowance slightly at the waist for breathing room. Yes, I have put a zip into the toile – Mr Jane Makes is wonderful in many ways but not so hot on pinning someone into a toile to check the fit! I’ve since waited a week to walk off a large Easter egg and it is still OK fit-wise!
There is a front seam too but after a conversation with @vintage_charity (who has made this dress up several times) I think I may eliminate the seam allowance and cut it on the fold to avoid the need for pattern matching on the front.