Tales from the Dress Room -part one. Vintage Fabrics.

Hello Lovelies and thanks for joining me on my blog, I want to tell you a little about what makes vintage so special and explain about my unique service. I carefully restore lovely vintage dresses to their former glory but this can only be possible if the fabrics are strong and in good condition, and not all fabrics are created equal. Some fabrics like silk although very beautiful, have a limited life span. In comparison two other fabrics Cotton and Rayon are still gorgeous and fresh after many many years.


Cotton is a wonderful fibre and lasts very well, which is why vintage and antique wedding dresses even up to 100 hundred years old can still be in fantastic condition. Cotton reached the height of it’s popularity in the 60s with gorgeous daisy patterned lace blooming everywhere, as in the vintage 60s wedding dress seen in the image above.

Antique cotton lace cape worn over 60s lace dress.

Vintage fabrics are much softer tones that modern fabrics as it was not usual to bleach the fabrics so much, hence they have a softer shade of white or cream. Some fabrics especially cotton were tea dyed to a shade called ecru like the Edwardian cotton lace cape above.

Cotton can be embroidered as seen below, and was often done on a Tambour embroidery frame, hence the term Tambour lace – very popular from the 1900s onwards.

Adorable Edwardian embroidered cotton wedding dress, currently available at my studio.

Cotton can be woven into wonderful lace with great texture and body as seen above. I have many beautiful examples of cotton lace wedding gowns.


Another fabulous vintage fabric with great longevity is Rayon. Perhaps surprisingly, the glamorous 1930s wedding dresses are not made of silk as is generally supposed, but are actually Rayon. It is due to this beautiful strong fabric that they have survived so well, and are still very wearable. Rayon is made from cotton pulp or wood pulp and is one of the first man made fabrics albeit from natural fibres. Conversely the 1920s wedding dresses were made from silk and sadly are very delicate, and mostly not viable in the context of a modern wedding.

Here are some beautiful examples of Deco 30s and 40s rayon satin wedding gowns currently available at my studio in West London, and waiting to be tried on.

Vintage rayon drapes and hangs as beautifully as silk and this makes it perfect for the bias cut styles of the 30s. Bias cutting was pioneered in the 30s and I will explain more about that in later posts.

This image shows a stunning cotton lace 30s wedding dress worn over a rayon bias cut slip. Rayon is great for amazing slips too. The slip is an important part of the outfit with dresses like this and I spend time finding the right one for each client, as part of the service I offer.

Please check back next Friday for another post about what makes vintage special and to find out more about how I work with my clients to help them look wonderful on their wedding day.

Have a good week, the wedding season is in full swing and it makes me happy to think of my lovely brides getting married in the sunshine!

Helena x

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