PaperGirl Mailbag: Sexy Lady Fabric!

posted in: Art, Quilting, Small Wonders, Work 18
Scan of Cranston Mills Print (not sure of year.)
Scan of Cranston Mills print; fabric circa 1950s.


Not quite a month ago, I announced that I got a post office box for PaperGirl. I’ve visited the box just once so far, a little before I left for Berlin. I got two letters! That felt so, so, so good. To dear Phyllis and the giver of the lace sample from Marshall Field’s (!!) you will be honored here soon as my first correspondents.

Now that I feel officially back from my trip — there’s more to say about Berlin but I just can’t right now — I’m excited to do errands. That’s how I know that everything is gonna be okay: when I get excited about errands again. (Note: It usually only takes me a few days and I get this fabulous, dust-yourself-off trait from Mom.) Probably my most looked-forward-to errand is to go check the PaperGirl mailbox tomorrow. I can’t wait. My innocent excitement, the big-eyed joy I get whenever I get a letter — in any letterbox to which I have a key — is immense, so go on! Send that postcard or box of gold bricks to Mary Fons/PaperGirl, P.O. Box 3957, Chicago, IL 60654-8777 today. Your mail will be cherished and kept. That’s a promise.

What’s neat about the letter I’m going to share with you now, though, is that it came to me before I had the box. I got this message via my mom (and maybe to Mom via the Fons & Porter office?) a few months ago. I put it into a stand-in briefcase I wasn’t used to using and misplaced it until a few weeks ago. Susan, I apologize: This piece of mail you sent is extraordinary and you haven’t heard from me, yet. Let’s do this.

Thank you so much for the fabric and the fabulous letter, Susan. You’re an excellent letter-writer, by the way, and of course I love your taste in fabric.

PaperGirl readers are incredible. Maybe there should be an annual PG convention. Or at least a retreat. We could all meet, swap fabric, stories, and read books and sew. I would seriously be into that. Anyone else? Okay, here’s Susan’s communique:

October 1st

Dear Mary:

I heard you and your mother on your short-lived podcasts (wish there were more) and on one you were waxing poetic about how much you looooove Springs Fabrics so I KNEW you would appreciate the enclosed ‘family heirloom.’

In the 1950’s my great aunt Vivian went shopping for fabric to make kitchen curtains and this is what she came home with. Now, in that era, many women in their 50’s and 60’s were proper and matronly. Aunty Vivian chose the fabric because she liked the colors, thought they would be perfect! Then, after she got home… She saw the design and was aghast; how could she ever let her friends see these ladies in her kitchen!

I was a teenager (good grief, where has the time gone?) and thought the Springmaids, from the ads for Springmaid sheets, were as clever as could be. Had no idea what I would do with the fabric, but I wanted it! 

Eventually, I covered a lampshade and stretched one repeat on a frame to hang next to the lamp. Yet I still had the enclosed piece and never could figure out what to do with it. Didn’t want to cut it up for a blouse, didn’t need a curtain, already had a lampshade… and so it sat in a drawer.

And, now it’s yours to pet and find a clever use for. I hope you enjoy it.

Susan Calhoun-Sousie
Fredericksburg, VA


18 Responses

  1. Sharon Pinka
    | Reply

    This fabric was made by Springmaid Fabrics. The owner, Elliot Springs, was instrumental in changing the Spring maid from a Puritan-style, demure maiden to a pin-up girl as shown in your fabric. He commissioned advertising drawings for sheets and bedding (while implying things that could be done on them) that ran in not only women’s magazines but also men’s. Several of the ad artists went on to draw for Playboy. I am currently researching this topic and its connection to fabric manufacturing and women’s responses to these ’50-60s era ads. It’s fun to see the fabric on your site! Thanks!

    • Mary
      | Reply

      NICE!!!! Thanks, Sharon!! 😀

    • Jennifer
      | Reply

      Sharon, that’s so interesting! I googled you because it looked like you do fun research. I see lots of posts on other sites about talks you’ve given, but nothing directly from you. Do you have a blog? Write books?

  2. Wanda Nesloney
    | Reply

    Mary I’m glad things are getting better. I’m not much of a writer and I’ve never answered a blog before, but I would love to see some sort of get together be it retreat meet up or gathering but it would be hard for most of us to travel long distances and thought if you had time next year at Houston Festival it would be marvelous to have a gathering there. Something to think about. I so enjoy reading your blog I look forward to it E7/w7

  3. Dale Odberg
    | Reply

    Wonderful! Scintillating! Makes me want to dance

  4. Melody A.
    | Reply

    I think a get together for the Paper Girl would be fantastic !! I live in Iowa so I don’t have to go far! unless you are going to do it in Houston as requested above. maybe a few events around the country so we could all meet you.

    I am glad you are feeling better and I wish lots of kindness for your heart! and what a wonderful heart it is!

  5. Sarah
    | Reply

    A perfect example of why we can’t go back to the fifties, but it did make me smile. Note the basic full coverage panties in the drawings; can you imagine the reaction to a thong? Remember the old song “Anything Goes”? Le sigh.

  6. Susan
    | Reply

    Glad today is a better day. I think there is always a letdown after a fantastic trip. You are tired, sleep patterns disrupted, and now life is ordinary again! However, it is still wonderful. Check that mailbox and I hope you find treasures of the heart.

  7. Susan
    | Reply

    PaperGirl Retreat! What a fabulous idea!!! Oh and seriously dig that fabric… and the story behind it (Thanks Sharon!)

  8. Lindsey
    | Reply

    I sent you a box with a linen sheet. I talked to the woman I got it from. She’s old now and doesn’t remember anything about it anymore. What information I enclosed is all we’ll get.

  9. Patricia Gottshalk
    | Reply

    Love the fabric and the story is wonderful. Hoping the fabric manufacturer can get this reprinted.

  10. Denise Braybrooke
    | Reply

    I love Paper girl. I love you. Not in a weird way, but I have never “met” a person who adds Spice to my thought soup the way you do.
    Thanks Mary.

  11. Neame
    | Reply

    Isn’t Cranston Mills still operating? Can’t we petition them to reissue this fabric? I seriously need some of this.

  12. Linda Rupe
    | Reply

    I (and my peeps!) would love a PG meet-up/sew-in/extended slumber party! Chicago would be awesome! Or Iowa – so eager to see the theater!. …. or pretty much anywhere….

  13. Sally
    | Reply

    Wonderful fabric!! Best of luck on school and life…..

  14. Suzanne Brown
    | Reply

    I love you Mary!!! I admire all you are!
    What an emotional month you’ve had….and a lot of growing pains.
    Thanks for spilling…you have every right. Keep in mind karma for bad people and acts. I loathe him also. His downfall will be harsh hopefully…and before he makes us all regret he was elected.
    Never be sorry Nor apologize for your thoughts or feelings.
    Grammysue in Florida

  15. Suzanne Brown22
    | Reply

    Ps…I’m new to your blog and actively await every post
    Hugs, Grammy sue
    I will write you a letter:)

  16. Melanie
    | Reply

    I love that this post came out on my birthday! I’m a papergirl too. Barb Marshall in Toronto has a blog called RiteWhileUCan. She coordinates Letter Writing Socials. People gather at a coffee shop, Barb brings some writing utensils and stationery and even a manual typewriter or two. I hope to get to travel to one of those sometime. She offers a Letter Writing Social kit that can guide you in holding a Social of your own. That might be fun for your readers.

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