Elizabeth from Vintage Fabric Addict has so very generously offered to share her expertise and knowledge about purchasing vintage fabrics.
Elizabeth, there are so many vendors who now claim to carry vintage fabrics. As an online purchaser what are the things you should look for when determining if the fabric is in fact vintage and not vintage styled?
Since you can't feel, or see the fabric until after it's purchased you have to feel confident in the seller, to be able to trust them and their knowledge. But in the end unless the fabric comes with dates on the selvedge or some sort of provenance most sellers are making educated guesses. Two giveaways though are the width which is narrower than new fabrics and the smell, vintage fabric will smell distinctly different to new fabric, even after washing.
When coming across a vintage gem at a flea market or garage sale, you discover that it has a mark, mould spot or rust spot from pins, it is still worth purchasing the fabric?
Marked fabric is absolutely worth purchasing. If it's a print you love you really can't afford to be picky with vintage as you may never have that opportunity again. Most marks are just dust and dirt, however, moth holes are not fixable, nor is mould, or faded areas, sun damaged curtains are not worth buying usually - unless you are using them for art. Sometimes you can work around these things or cut the damage off.
What are some of the flaws/faults that are acceptable or to be expected when purchasing vintage fabric.
I would expect vintage fabric to smell, to me it's a lovely smell but if you are not experienced with vintage you might find it off putting. It might smell of dust, damp, perfume and mothballs. The older the fabric the more one should be expecting small age spots, fold marks and possibly some fading on the folds. Also rusty pin marks are common, sometimes old patterns are still attached to uncut fabric.
Is there a demand for one particular fabric or era?
The 1950s will always sell very well, all-over splashy painterly roses and novelty border prints. Neat & pretty or big and bold florals in unexpected colourways from the 1960s. Dress weight cottons outsell everything else.
What sorts of fabrics do you get excited about finding?
What fabric don't I get excited about!! I get a real rush when I find an uncut length, like 5 yards or more all folded as if just home from the drapery store, never unfolded. It's just the most beautiful sight. I recently came across three pieces of wool knit fabric for cardigans wrapped up in a newspaper from 1942 and tied with the original string. A note on the outside read 'cardigan for mum and one for me'. It was just so wonderful!! I really didn't want to open it.