Last weekend I went on a vintage adventure! Cats Pajamas is a vintage clothing, jewelry and textiles show/sale that takes place twice a year in Elgin, Illinois. Vendors from all over the midwest (and country) come to sell their goods, and let me tell you, I had a field day!
My dear friend, Yonit the costume designer, has been telling me about this show for the last 2 years. She has gone and acquired many a funky pieces of jewelry, clothing and accessories for herself as well as costumes for shows she has worked on. This year I was FINALLY able to join her. We met up with another fantastic costume designer Rachel Healy, grabbed a few breakfast treats and drove out to Elgin.
My textile design heart stopped dead in it's tracks! I began to hop from one booth to the next, combing through the racks of vintage clothing snapping photos of fabulous prints that I came across. The quirky florals with ribbons to the geometric ladders and spots, watercolored florals and paisley galore - they were all screaming for me. I began documenting every piece of fabric that seemed interesting, humorous, dainty, funky... you name it, I photographed it!
I was surprised to find myself drawn to the crazy animal prints. I managed to find quite a few since this was a vintage sale and the 1950's were all about quirky prints & textiles. I clasped my hands and started to laugh when I saw a sweet little print that seemed like a few illustrations of Winnie the Pooh characters in repeat. It was so darling and yet so specific. It included honey pots, red balloons, piglet and Pooh bear! Another wonderful print I found were seals swimming across a pair of shorts. I kept imagining a teenage boy wearing these shorts and it made me chuckle. I have a special place in my heart for peacocks and when I found a dress sporting a hand drawn peacock and floral print, I instantly starting snapping photos of it.
At one point Yonit and I came across the most beautiful cream colored dress from the 1920's. We both fell in love with it and of course it wasn't either of our sizes. However, if it was and would have fit, I would have found my future wedding dress. We then ran into one of Yonit's costume design friends Kelly. After showing her the dress that caught our hearts, she decided she would try it on. It fit her perfectly! According to the shop owner, it's a magical moment when a dress finds a lady with the right size and body shape to pull it off. She then ran over and found a hat that would pull the whole look together. Kelly happily purchased the dress and is now waiting for a special occasion to wear it.
At one booth, Yonit and I found a 3 piece vintage luggage set, in perfect condition and the price was a steal! We talked it over and decided to split the set (first photo, bottom right corner). It is a wonderful funky paisley in blues with a hint of red & yellow, and we will always think of each other while traveling.
This adventure was as fun as it was inspiring. After 5 hours of diving into wonderful clothes and jewelry of the past, I came away with a new excitement about textiles, prints and patterns. I have a collection of reference images of patterns that has grown dramatically since this trip and I am ready to start designing again.