Fabulous Fabrics of the 50’s (And Other Terrific Textiles of the 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s)

by Gideon Bosken, Michele Mancici & John Gramstad
Chronical Books
Contents: 117 pages, 8 Chapters, Instruction, Glossary and Chapter Opener Captions
Reviewed by Dorothy L. Johnson
Originally Published Summer 1999


If you love fabrics, textile design and a bit of history of your era, you’ll find this book exciting. The focal point of the text is directed toward curtains, window fabrics and other draperies. The 121 colored plates show exact replicas of materials used in the years from 1920 through 1950.

Fabrics are stylized to support the architecture of the time and the window of societal preferences. Remember when you first chose curtains for your home or own room? A trip down memory lane occurs when you open the covers of this book.

How will this aid the stitcher? Well, you might ask yourself if you prefer floral designs. Are tropical prints your thing? Do you glory in glitz? Do you like stripes, nature’s shapes, or figurative images? How many of you enjoy abstracts, geometrics and/or science-oriented designs? This is a book that illustrates how the fabric that surrounds you influences your image choices.

Do your preferences for fabric patterning effect the topics, colors or textures that you use in your stitching? As we all know, one can get stuck in an era and keep stitching the “same thing” over and over again.

If you are a designer or textile artist, and are interested in exploring historical designing, this book could be a rich resource. The colors and variations of color combinations are incredible. One will realize the elements of days past in those color combinations, however, there are materials whose colors are infinitely pure and lasting.

For creative purposes, this book has wonderful floral and leaf examples, border patters, placement of shapes abutting shapes. Examples range from iris to lily of the valley, from palm fronds to elephant ears, from squares to swirls. Geometrics are shown with colors from subdued and muted to the dramatic vivid ranges.

From a historical perspective, vintage fabrics used as curtains hang in celebrity homes, including Madonna’s, and there is quite a secondary market for these materials. So, if you have stuff in your attic, ancient aunties, or other sources for fabrics from the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s even the 50’s, find your market! Stitch them into your quilts, your needlework and other machine embroidery items. This book is a designer’s inspiration.