Reproduction Fabrics from Your Own Closet (or How I Met Fabric Designer and Artist Cory Marie Podielski)

Dearly beloved…

If you’ve been collecting vintage clothing for any amount of time, there are pieces we get attached to and pieces that we have worn out, ripped, are no longer in our size, or have deteriorated over time. I cling to some of these because the fabrics are so beautiful, even if I can no longer wear them. 

There are certainly reproduction jazz age and swing era fabrics out there – Trashy Diva re-makes and re-imagines different color ways, Shaheen has re-released classic prints and garments, Telalinda has made some beautiful reproductions for sewing, and quilters and sewers have the benefit of reproduction feed sack fabric in quilting cotton. But what about that beloved dress in the back of your closet? How can we bring it back to life and share its beauty with others? How can I decide what fabric I want made?

The answer, through mutual friend/dancer/musician Annie Erbsen, is Cory Marie Podielski. I received some other recommendations (which I’m happy to dig up if anyone is interested), but I decided on Cory because she’s NC-based and Cory already had a Spoonflower shop set up with some reproduction fabrics (find her shop at coryallegory).

But I’m getting ahead of myself! A few years ago at the Nevermore Jazz Ball in St. Louis I purchased an incredible blouse (Retro 101 said 1930s, others believe the print looks 1940s) in rayon with little grayscale toys with brightly colored bows on a navy background. The blouse was so elegant that, even though there was some shattering in the shoulders, I had faith in my local tailor to fortify it. And she did! And then I got scared about wearing it and ruining it, plus I don’t often wear delicate separates and it looks like more of a work blouse for me. So it sat in my closet for years.

I tried to sell it on Instagram, but there were no takers – who can blame everyone, it doesn’t have a long wearing life-span in its future, but it’s so pretty! Then, after several Spoonflower purchases for various pandemic sewing projects, I wondered if I could commission someone to recreate this print. The recreation could be uploaded to Spoonflower and I could order it in so many different types of fabric, depending on the project. Facebook friend network to the rescue and now we’re all caught up.

Working with Cory was a dream! She’s already a vintage fabric enthusiast, so she knew exactly what to do. I shipped her my blouse and within a few weeks she had drafts of the design for me to review (insert feelings of elation) as well as 6 additional color ways she had been playing around with (insert Mind Blown gif with a cluster of stars coming out of my head). She ordered several samples from Spoonflower in variations on the original, because navy is tricky. When the samples came she sent me photos of my blouse on top of the sample fabrics and I was even more excited. The color saturation will vary based on the fabric type and she wanted to try for a better match, so that happened and then the print and alternate color ways went up in her Spoonflower shop! I ordered enough of the original color way (in petal cotton) and the gray/aqua/yellow/purple (in cotton poplin) to make dresses and the fabric is now in my hot little hands.

The first proof of the blouse – very close!
Additional proofs on different fabrics

You can own this, too! In any of the color ways I’ve posted below – just look for Cory’s Spoonflower shop coryallegoryand find the prints named “jazz animals.”

Cory is open to taking additional commissions like mine, which you can opt to keep all to yourself or allow Cory to post the fabric on Spoonflower for a reduced commission rate and share your vintage fabric with the world. Sharing is caring, y’all…

If you’re not familiar with Spoonflower, here’s what I love about this company: 

  • It’s based in Durham, North Carolina, which is where I live! I’m supporting a local-to-me company.
  • You can upload your own designs or purchase from the endless listings of artists/designers who make just about every conceivable fabric design.
  • There are 20 different fabrics for prints, from gauze to denim, in natural and synthetic fibers.
  • You can order a fabric sample pack to see and feel each of their fabrics and see how the color prints on each fabric.
  • If you don’t sew, no worries! Spoonflower can make household items for you, such as shower curtains, duvet covers, tablecloths, pillows, and sheets – pick out the fabric of your choice and scroll down to find the link to household items in that print.

Stay tuned for a follow-up post on the dress I plan to make from the original color way fabric. But also, go forth and enjoy this fabric or have Cory make your own vintage fabric design! Check out her Instagram and click on the LinkTree to explore.

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