Prints and Patterns: Vintage Wrapping Paper



This last year and a half has seen the opening of a new flock of internet-based businesses which offer affordable digital fabric printing. The possibilities these have opened up for home sewers is immensely exciting and virtually limitless. Since I learned about them and investigated their services to research an article I wrote on the subject (which can be read here) I often find myself trying to come up with ideas for interesting print designs.


Whilst having a reminisce about Christmases past, I remember in the 1980’s my nan each year producing presents wrapped in Christmas paper from the 1960’s. As a young child I couldn’t figure out why the paper had such distinctly (to my 80’s child’s eye) bizarre designs. In retrospect I imagine she must have picked up a job-lot one year, and her frugal nature made her hang on to it for a couple of decades!

These days my love of vintage print is surpassed only by my love of wine, and assuming the constraints of wrapping paper print design are similar to that of fabric print design, I decided that vintage wrapping could be the perfect starting point for some seriously fantastic Christmas themed fabric. So where to find vintage wrapping paper images? Silly question really, I should have instantly assumed that there would be a Vintage Wrapping Paper Flickr group!


I’ve always felt a little nonplussed about the fabric shop Christmas themed offerings, so whether your taste is a little on the kitschy side (like mine) or erring towards the more subtle and classy, I reckon really individual and exciting Christmas fabric potential is out there.

Now one tricky area that these DIY fabric design opportunities throw up is that of copyrights. Don’t hold me to this, but I would assume that any licenses on these 50-or-so year old designs is up by now, and that for non commercial use like your yuletide tablecloth, it might suffice to contact the individual Flickr member for their permission to use their image. In fact one member of this Flickr group actually advertised that they are willing to send you a larger image file upon request (how’s that for festive spirit?!). If anyone has more of a clue on these matters than I do please leave a comment! However, for anyone aiming for a more traditional festive fabric design free from all copyright concern, the Graphics Fairy blog contains images, clip art and photos (festive being but one type of the squillions featured) which are free to use in any of your projects created for resale or pleasure.


So, you’ve found the perfect image, figured out the whole image file/pixel size/colour checking shebang (congratulations! I have yet to muster the courage)and received your bounty, what could you do with it? Table cloths, napkins, present stockings or even a fabulous party dress! What about the Macaron dress with a contrast plain colour for the top section, or the Ceylon dress to act as an elegant canvas for a riotous festive fabric!? Ideas anyone?

Zoe Edwards   —  

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Comments 1

Michelle Jensen

I wrapped my xmas presents in wood effect vintage wallpaper for a very Scandinavian xmas. Although it did look like I had given everyone firewood!

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