History of Conversation Prints
Conversation Prints Really Speak to us!
Conversation prints encompass a wide range of themes, products, and events, including sewing tools, holiday symbols, and logos for games, candy, and even farm equipment. Popular around the turn of the 20th century, they continue to be popular and are actively sought after today.
In the Beginning
Early conversation prints, from 1900 through1940, were designed to appeal to children and, consequently, those who sewed for them. Nursery rhymes, alphabets, baby animals, children at play, and cartoon characters were recognizable to the juvenile audience.
Sunbonnet Babies Inspiration
In 1902, Bertha Corbett's hugely popular illustrations for Eulalie Osgood Grover's Sunbonnet Babies' Primer appeared and were quickly translated into quilt blocks for embroidery. Following her lead, Grace Gebbie Drayton created Dolly Dingle, a charming moppet who bore a strong resemblance to the Campbell's soup kids.
While amusing to look at today, many of the fabrics have lost their context and are difficult to identify. The images are intriguing but obscure. Who, for instance, is the hitchhiking youngster on this piece of feed sack?
Hollywood Comes Onboard!
By 1930, Mickey Mouse was appearing in comic strips as well as on film. Mickey and his friends Minnie, Clarabelle, Goofy, and Pluto soon appeared on fabric. Disney seems to have been the first, and most innovative, at marketing and licensing its successes in a variety of formats, including fabric.
After Snow White was introduced, Disney Studios fully blended cartoons, children, and commercialism. They had fabric in at least seven different designs and a number of colorways, marketed as yard goods and in finished items.