Saturday, 12 January 2013

Exciting Fabric Archive Trip!

Hello and a belated Happy New Year!

Today, I had the privilege of going to have a nosey at a rather exciting fabric archive!

In brief; Last year, Cheryl, a friend from the local creative group I go to, inherited a fabric archive from New York. It was where she had completed a years work placement years ago as a student, and when the owner retired from her position last year, she remembered Cheryl's enthusiasm for the collection and said that she would like her to have it. Wow! 
After a very long process to ship the archive over here, and the last 3 months sorting it out into a workable order, we were invited to visit to have a look at the treasure. I have been really excited about going to see it, as a pattern designer - this kind of thing really is a rare opportunity!
And so to the photos....
The sight that greeted us in the studio......
Before starting to have a look at all the gorgeous samples and swatches, we had a coffee and a slice of freshly made apple cake - yum!
And so to the exciting part! Here are some of the other creative ladies having a look through the collection
Proud owner of this amazing archive, Cheryl
A selection of 40s and 50s kitchen inspired fabrics - eeek!
Piles of 50s Barkcloth!! *takes sharp intake of breath*
More lovely barkcloth!
And some novelty prints

Not only is there heaps of fabric, but also wallpaper and swatch books too!
I loved this cover and Typography on this 50s wallpaper book
And in some of the swatch books, the samples are dated - this one was 1893!
And a wallpaper sample book from 1924

You will notice that there are no photos directly of any of the fabrics, papers or swatches. This is because of the end use of the archive, which is currently being catalogued and will be hired and sold to designers to use as inspirations for future projects and collections. As much of the archive falls out of the copyright laws - a great deal of it can be replicated and reproduced for things such as fashion prints, packaging and wallpapers.

I was greatly inspired by what I saw today, and although Cheryl has a mammoth task ahead of her to catalogue it all, I know that it will be so well received - and used - by the design community.

I was really inspired and saw so many new things just in the few hours we were there. I was amazed at how fresh and bright so many of the fabrics and wallpapers were - putting the myth to bed that turn of the 20th Century was muted and drab. Really anything but!

Although not up and running yet, the website for the archive is:
I suggest you log on in a few months time when it will hopefully be filled with prints and patterns!


  1. I remember looking through some Victorian fabric sample books when I worked at the library and being amazed at the colour and vibrancy, and also the fact that if you had just showed me the fabric and not said how old it was I would have said 1960's/70's because of the mad psychedelic patterns and colours, not what I thought Victorian ladies would be wearing at all!!

  2. Wow, how exciting!! Isn't it funny how we all seem to think that the modern world invented color? I think perhaps black & white film is the culprit. Perhaps anyone born after the shift from black & white film to color film thinks of the "old" world as being in black & white...I know I do! It's like seeing those full-color movies of WW2 that were all over the internet a year or so ago..."whaaat? WW2 was in COLOR?" haha! ;-)

  3. Daaaamn!

    I'm SO glad I can read your blog again!
    Every time I try it just loads and loads but nothing shows. I hope it will from now on.

    Happy New Year Clare! Hope to see you soon!

  4. What a bounty of beautiful colors, prints patterns and loads of inspiration! I can only imagine how stoked you were to be there.

  5. Wow! I've never seen anything like that, what an amazing collection! That does sound like a huge undertaking, it's so nice to know that someone is interested in preserving those prints and patterns so they aren't just lost to history.

  6. Such an amazing collection...and the cake wasn't bad either. ;)

  7. oh wow! Amazing, I nearly passed out!