Vintage Fabric Collector Series: Vicky Grubb of Something Fine

True Up's favorite fabrics from Something Fine's collection

True Up’s favorite fabrics from Vicky’s collection

Please tell the audience a little about yourself, where you live, your blog and shop if you have them, what you do when you’re not sewing …

vickyHello I’m Vicky and I run Something Fine. I live in a town called Kingston Upon Thames in Southwest London — It’s very close to where Henry VIII lived with his wives. I sell vintage fabrics from 1940s to 1980s online via eBay (Something-Fine-Fabric) and my own website. I love to upholster and I’m currently finishing my Diploma at a college in London. I nearly always upholster my pieces with vintage fabric. I write a blog called ‘aka fabric girl’ where I relay stories about my upholstery challenges, vintage fabric research, and fabric finds. When I’m not working on Something Fine and upholstering, I’m a mum to my 5 month old baby, Dylan. In the summer I like to walk and in the winter I like to ski.

How long have you been collecting vintage fabric?

Well I’ve been interested in pattern for as long as I can remember. It’s something that I share in common with my mum who is a fabulous seamstress. My interest really started with mum buying me bits of fabrics for crafting as a child. I’ve always had a small stash but over the last 10 years it’s become more of a passion and my whole house is now filled with textiles! I’ve been clearing some shelves and selling fabrics for three years.

Granny's old dresses

Do you have any special memories of textiles from your childhood?

We used to own a caravan in the 1970s and every summer we would attach it to our hatchback and drive to Devon and Cornwall. One year my Great Gran gave Mum some old dresses and mum spent the holiday unpicking them and making them into patchwork curtains for the caravan. She used to say that every square told a story. I still have them (see pic), these days they’re used as a table cloth. Even now my mum gets nostalgic when she comes over for tea. It’s a little reminder of our lovely Granny Watts.

How would you describe your vintage stash — what is the predominant fiber, era, colors, etc?

I do have a personal stash of vintage fabrics and they really only consist of two types of textiles. One is satin brocades from the 1950s. I love the metallic look of this type of fabric and the geometric shapes produced. I can absolutely say that if I see a satin brocade I HAVE to have it even if the pattern doesn’t immediately jump out at me. I just love them. The second is novelty fabrics from the 1950s. These are mainly thick cottons. For my upholstery I use woven textiles with geometric shapes from the 70s and I have a small stash of these that I add to.

What does your collection say about you?

I include fabrics all over my house, in frames and on furniture and they are always bright bold colours – I have A LOT of orange in my house. My friend once told me that if you like orange you are psychologically challenged. I hope that’s not what my collection says about me!

What are your favorite sources for buying vintage fabric?

I like to write in my blog about where I’ve been picking up fabrics along the way. I really source fabrics all over I absolutely love to search for them and spend most of my spare time on the hunt.

What is your #1 favorite piece in your collection?

Fave Fabric at mo

I am very faddish about my favourite piece. It changes so often as I’m always finding exciting vintage fabrics. At the moment though it’s a yellow satin brocade with a leaf shape woven into it (above).

How do you store it? Any special ways of cataloging it for posterity and/or organizing it all?

Something Fine Office

This is my fabric store. This helps to keep the dust off and when it’s tidy I try and keep types to different shelves … although as you can see it’s a bit of a mess at the mo! When I sell my fabrics I give them a catalogue number and save pictures of them on my hard drive in folders of 50.

Are you more of a collector or do you use your vintage fabrics a lot in sewing?

Well as mentioned I do use my fabrics in upholstery, but I would say that I see vintage fabrics as works of art, so many are for collection only. I really hate cutting them up.

Are there any holes in your stash that you’d like to fill, for example a particular color family, country, print type, or design era?

I’ve recently started to collect designer textiles from the 50s and 60s and sell them on my website. I would like to source more art fabrics from this era.

Do you have a holy grail — a particular piece that you’d really like to add to your collection?

I think it is a similar answer to above. I recently bought a book on Liberty prints from the 50s and 60s and that has me interested in collecting some of these infamous bold prints. I discovered that many of them were made just down the road from me.

Do you have any favorite designers or design styles from the past?

My favourite design styles are geometric prints.

What are your favorite contemporary fabrics/designers/companies?

Awf, there are so many. For upholstery fabrics I like Designers Guild, Harlequin, Zoffany. Dress Fabrics I like Alexander Henry, Amy Butler for Rowan, Cath Kidston — most of the modern dress fabrics I like are based on vintage fabrics.

Any parting words? Please take this opportunity to answer any question you were hoping I would ask you …

Thanks for reading my interview. Please take a little peek at my website, and if you are looking for anything in particular I love to search for pieces so let me know.

Thank you so much, Vicky! One of my favorite posts from Vicky’s blog was her visit to the Pausa factory in Germany … a textile collector and historian’s dream. See her collection on Flickr.

More vintage fabric collector interviews: doe-c-doe, Cluttershop.

One Comment

  1. Vanessa says:

    It is so nice to put a face to the name – I love your fabrics and have long admired your shop! I remember one of your blog posts about going to a vintage fabric warehouse with all of the fabrics waiting to be catalogued and sorted – oh how I wished I was you!

    Yay for vintage fabric lovers around the world – thanks, Kim!

    xx Ness