Mobiles: A 1950s Vintage Curtain

Isn’t this pattern gorgeous ?

Abstract design, 1950s, vintage curtain material by Marian Mahler

My auntie loved this fabric. She used it to make beautiful, lined curtains for her first home in the 1950s, probably using her hand crank Singer sewing machine and finishing the hems by hand. After the austerity of the Second World War, to be able to have bright, new designs like this in your home must have been wonderful. The curtains were used for many years, and when they were finally taken down were folded carefully and put away in a cupboard, where they stayed until last year when I was fortunate enough to be given one of them. Although they had been mended to hide sun damage at the edges, the bulk of the material is in ‘as new’ condition – over 60 years later.

The pattern, often called “Mobiles”, is by Marian Mahler, and the fabric was made by David Whitehead and Sons Ltd. It’s 100% cotton. Marian Mahler, born in Austria in 1911, studied at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Vienna from 1929 to 1932 and then at the Royal State Academy before emigrating to the UK in 1937 where she worked for a number of textile manufacturers. Her designs were revolutionary and innovative, combining abstract forms and vivid colours. She died in 1983.

So then, what to do with a single curtain in a beautiful fabric? Not having a suitable window to hang it at, I decided to make a handbag. Make new from old, repurpose it.

The unfinished lining of the fabric bag.
The lining for the bag is almost finished.
Sewing a flap onto a fabric bag using a Singer hand sewing machine.
Sewing the flap onto the bag, using my Singer hand crank sewing machine
Detail of the finished bag, showing the lining and phone pocket
Detail of the finished bag, showing the lining and phone pocket
A closeup of the base of the fabric bag.
Detail of the base. It’s a useful, roomy bag.
The finished bag, made in 1950s vintage material, in an abstract design by Marian Mahler
Front of the bag, with its triangular flap.

I love the finished bag!

If you’d like to see more of my handmade fabric bags, please visit my Folksy Shop
But you won’t find this bag for sale, I love the material too much, so I’m keeping it for me!


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