Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Vintage Tablecloth Dress

I found a really cute vintage tablecloth dress this past weekend at a vintage shop in Easton, PA. I have never heard of a tablecloth dress before, so this was all new info for me. I love learning new things! The owner said she had just got the dress in the shop and it came from an 85 year old woman who made the dress by hand in the 1930's from an old tablecloth. This is a bit confusing to me as I would guess date this dress from the late 40's/ early 50's. The dress has no zipper in it, but instead closes with hook and eyes in the back. I'm thinking about modifying the dress a bit to add a back zipper to it. I prefer a bit more security when I'm wearing something strapless! :)

vintage table cloth dress

vintage table cloth dress
With a cute matching sleeveless top.

IMG_5765
A very full skirt.

vintage table cloth dress

What's your guess about this dress, when do you think it might have been made? Have you ever heard of dresses being made out of old tablecloths?

25 comments:

  1. Wow, very interesting! I would totally not have pegged it to be 30s but then sometimes I find things in magazines or catalogs that completely blow my mind in terms of my "standard" expectations on eras and styles. I wonder if she might have updated the dress later on? Hm, would someone do that, to keep it up-to-the-moment style-wise? Being a lazy sewist the thought would never cross my own mind to do that. ;)

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  2. I have heard of people making dresses out of tableclothes, or whatever fabric they could re-use. I'm not great at dating things myself, but my gut reaction would be the 50s too just from the silhouette

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  3. Yeah, this dress has me extremely baffled. The owner of the shop said she went to this woman's house to pick up some of her dresses and the 85 year old woman also showed her a picture from the 30's of her wearing the dress. Hmmm okay I would give me left arm for that picture....I love seeing people actually wearing things in the past that I now am wearing...I would also love to see the picture to see if it had clues about the time period!

    I love old people!

    MaryD

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  4. Yup at 85 how clear are ALL your memories?? I shouldn't talk my Aunt Dot will be 100 this year and from what I've been told, she's got a pretty dang good memory! :-) Bless you Aunt Dot for telling awesome kick ass stories!

    ~MaryD

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  5. mmm I too would have thought 50s but as Tash says sometimes things throw us off the track, it doesn't look very 30s but I don't know. What I do know is that my mum and aunt get eras mixed up, even though their memory seems great for everything else, they swear blind they used to wear certain things in the 50s which I'm pretty sure weren't around til the 60s - and they weren't hip & groovy and ahead of their time either ;o)

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  6. awesome dress...I would have thought late 40's, but the blouse does say more 30s since by late 40s it would have been a short bolero, not a waist length blouse.

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  7. It just spoke 50s to me BUT the hook and eye would see out of step with that time frame. Hmmm - no matter what it is stunning. Great find.

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  8. may date to the late 30's, maybe 1938, this makes me think of the wide skirt at the waist and curled, in internet I found this dress in 1938, particularly the top.

    http://www.metmuseum.org/works_of_art/collection_database/the_costume_institute/cocktail_dress_valentina/objectview.aspx?collID=8&OID=80093955

    but then I found this photo of 1930, the London society debutantes at the ball of the Queen Charlotte .... At this point I doubt they came to me too, sure 1930? These girls look like later period...

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/castlekay/1760831103/

    I still have some doubts, because also the large-style evening dresses by Madeleine Vionnet are dated 1937 - 1938

    Sorry for my english.
    good night
    Debora

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  9. This dress is definitely early 40's, probably made during the war years as fabric was rationed (hence tablecloth) as well as metal for zippers (hence hook n eyes) !!

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  10. I have definitely made a few skirts from old tablecloths, but not a dress. The dress is a gorgeous find though! Congrats!!

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  11. Eeee. I'd go with early 40s just by how old the 85 yr old would have been. She would have been 16 in 1940, and while she could have made herself a dress before that, I'd say her making it between 16 and 20 is more likely.

    What we see in magazines now is not representative of what EVERYONE is wearing out there. People would date the dresses we make to eras they obviously were not made it after all ;)

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  12. Never heard of a tablecloth dress. Whatever year it's from, it's beautiful! Lucky you for the find!

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  13. oh my oh my...i have heard of the tablecloth dress...i actually have one as well...have you heard of the curtian dress??? many gals would use ol curtians for their clothes or childrens clothes...

    now a biiiiiiiggggggg congrats on your marriage...i have been locked out of blogger for a few weeks...and haven't been able to wish you congrats! you looked amazing! The house....the adventure...the guy...just amazing! Blessings on an amazing life!!! hugggs

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  14. I would have pegged this dress 40's/50's too!
    I have a tablecloth dress from the early 60's! I love it! Yours is awesome! I love the matching sleeveless top.

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  15. I´d put this dress 1948-1952 for the length of skirt and silouhette on a day dress. Not early 40s and def not 30s. she may have bought the tablecloth in the 30s?? fits with¨make do and mend attitude¨ and think about feedsack fabric. Not uncommon for silk scarves to be made into tops in late 40s. Fabric would have been expensive for many women I´d say. Great find- love knowing the story behind a frock!

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  16. Smashing dress! I don't want to rain on your find or anything though, but I very much doubt the story the seller told. My tuppence ha'penny worth...

    Style: The fullness and length of the skirt are all wrong for the period claimed - it's hands down New Look to me. A strapless bodice for day wear also seems highly unlikely before the late 40s. Even the overblouse indicates 50s - sleeveless styles weren't common in the late 30s / early 40s era.

    Material: This tablecloth must have been absolutely enormous to have provided enough fabric for the very full tea length skirt, plus top, plus overblouse (even the checks are matched up, which requires extra material). Even if it *was* made from a tablecloth, that doesn't necessarily date it to early 40s, as fabric rationing - and frugality - continued long after the war.

    Closure: Centre back closure was unusual in the 30s and 40s (check sewing patterns of the era, they usually have a side placket). It wasn't only during the war that closures other than zippers were popular - I have a late 50s - 60s wiggle dress with a side press stud placket.

    The evidence: Can we be absolutely sure the 85 year old lady wasn't *in her 30s* in the photograph she showed the seller? Because I'd be very ready to believe this as a style from 1956, the year she would have been 30.

    Any other clues: What's the sizing like? If she'd made the dress at 16 it's likely to be a very small size - although of course there were larger ladies in the 40s, in general young girls simply were smaller back then - just look at the sizes of wedding dresses from the period, when it was usual to marry quite young. Plus this was a time of food rationing.

    All that said, it's a fabulous dress and a great find!

    xx Charlotte
    Tuppence Ha'penny Vintage

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  17. Ooooh I bet Sherlock Charlotte is right and she was IN her 30s when she made it!

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  18. I'd have to agree with Charlotte 100%. Still it's gorgeous and ought to look smashing on you! (P.S. We ought to meet up in Easton sometime- it's only about 1/2 hr away from me- and I've never been shopping there!)

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  19. Yup, I think Sherlock Charlotte might be on to something! One thing for sure...it's a sweet dress.

    The amount of fabric used to make the dress and the fullness of the skirt just wasn't adding up to me. The back hook and eye didn't bother me so much because perhaps the gal wasn't good at putting in a zipper and went the easy route!?? The shop owner was so adamant about the picture and the story from the woman. All it did was confuse me. Perhaps the shop owner didn't think I had any knowledge of such things?

    Oh SusieQT we should! I wasn't aware you lived so close to me now...how cool! Easton is about 10min or so away from me and I really haven't explored it much myself. So far I've been to a vintage shop called Phylisis and a place called Salvage Goods, which was cute and I thought to myself ..Oh geezz I could have a shop like this! :) We should plan something for July!

    MaryD

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  20. Looks late 40s to me. Also, that would have to have been a gigantic tablecloth b/c the skirt is so full. Most tables do not need that much fabric covering them! Also, agree with Charlotte about the woman possible being in her 30s when she wore the dress.

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  21. Very cute dress! I bet it will look fabulous on! During WWII it was very common to make dresses out of old tablecloths because there was a shortage in many different materials. The style of the dress looks more 50s than 40s but it may have been a habit that carried on with some of the women from the 40s. You'll have to take a picture in the dress!

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  22. http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5081/5341174939_6d7c28751d.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.max-california.com/2011/01/1940-1949.html&usg=__hpmetheY0GlyxxvaM94StAWk6jQ=&h=345&w=500&sz=111&hl=en&start=0&zoom=1&tbnid=FRFCaG5iji-2NM:&tbnh=124&tbnw=179&ei=YgIOTsXzG_PYiALwnsnjDQ&prev=/search%3Fq%3DWorld%2BWar%2BII%2Btablecloth%2Bbra%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DN%26biw%3D1366%26bih%3D575%26tbm%3Disch&um=1&itbs=1&iact=rc&dur=4&page=1&ndsp=22&ved=1t:429,r:3,s:0&tx=94&ty=74

    Long link but here's an example of a tablecloth being used to make a bra/playsuit!

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  23. http://www.etsy.com/listing/66511279/vintage-1950s-pinky-plaid-cinderella

    plaid or tablecloth?

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  24. I'm agreeing with you on the table cloth part also. That was my first thought even before considering the time period, that it would have to be a HUGE table cloth. In my family we have always referred to prints like this as "table cloth". It never means they were actually made from one, but that they look like one.

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