New source for retro barkcloth — 27 patterns, 68 colorways, from Diamondhead Fabrics

retro barkclothThese days, finding barkcloth to use for window treatments, pillows and other fabric accents can be a difficult and expensive endeavor. The price of vintage barkcloth continues to rise, and it’s very difficult to find enough vintage yardage for larger projects. That’s why we were pleased to discover another source for mid-century style barkcloth  — Diamondhead Fabrics. This barkcloth is made by Big Kahuna Fabrics in Hawaii, but it’s Diamondhead Fabrics where you can actually buy it online. 

The barkcloth that almost killed my boss — and why we like it anyway

vintage style barkclothBefore we delve into our more in-depth review, I’d like to note that it was the swatch of barkcloth above — Big Kahuna Fabrics ‘Bird of Paradise’ in natural — that nearly killed my boss. Pam was precariously draping this swatch over her traverse rod when the big tumble happened. Despite the broken arm that immediately resulted, Pam still holds a favorable opinion of the company’s collection of barkcloth prints — especially this now infamous swatch, which she might use for new pinch pleat draperies in her next big project — converting her 45′ x 15′ living room/dining room into a home tiki bar — her own Suburban Savage Paradise.

hawaiian flower barkcloth vintagePreviously, we’d identified 7 places to buy barkcloth, and we’re thrilled to add Diamondhead Fabrics to our list as a key new source. Thanks to Ann Brunett, company spokesperson for Diamondhead Fabrics, Pam and I both were able to review samples of all the company’s barkcloth designs. Note: This is not a paid post, though — we just asked for sample swatches to see firsthand to prepare this story.

retro-barkcloth-midcenturyWe like this barkcloth — especially at this price.

Our overall impression of the Diamondhead Fabrics/Big Kahuna Fabrics: Nice designs — nice texture — nice enough medium weight for accessories (but not heavy use upholstery) — all at a pretty darn good price. The fabric itself has a really great feel to it — a bit of a texture, similar to traditional barkcloth. Pam and I both felt the quality of the printing on the fabric was impressive, especially for the affordable price of $19.95 for the first yard and $15.95 per yard for two or more yards. Our only nit: We wish many of the colorways were more retro.

In all, Diamondhead Fabrics lists 27 barkcloth designs in 68 colorways on their website. We’ll have follow up stories taking a closer look at all three categories of the company’s barkcloth designs — atomic/googie, floral and botanical — coming up over the next few weeks, so stay tuned!

Mega thanks to Ann from Diamondhead Fabrics for sending samples for us to take a look at.

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Comments

  1. Scott says

    I really like the idea of Tiki stuff coming from Hawaii, that seems about as an approrpriate place as you could hope to buy it new from.

    The swatch with lots of red flowers is very appealing and like Pam’s choice, reads authentically vintage to me.

      • sophista-tiki says

        Scott, Tiki and Hawaii are not mutually exclusive. Most things that are tiki do not come from Hawaii. Theres a whole scene of artists and makers who have been producing actual tiki decor and art for a while now.

        • Joe Felice says

          Tiki and Hawaiian are 2 different things. Tiki is South Pacific/Polynesian. Hawaiian culture is different, though some Tiki influences can certainly be seen there.

          • pam kueber says

            In the session I emceed, Hawaiiana was described as one “tiki flavor”. Insofar as Americana-tiki was an invention, Hawaiian is and can be included. That’s how I understand it…

  2. says

    I love these!

    A thought for curtains with such a pretty fabric like this: in our house, the drapes are just for looks (we don’t really ever pull them shut), so instead of hanging them where they actually cover the window and block precious sunlight, I’ve started installing rods several feet longer than the windows. That way, we get to see more fabric, it covers wall rather than window, it makes the windows appear gigantic, and you can appreciate the print on the fabric better because it’s not backlit.

    Another trick: curtain rods long enough to pull this off are usually either expensive or get a little wonky when extended to that length. Instead, I’ve been spray painting electrical conduit a matte black (it’s like $2.50 for a 10′ length, is light and strong, and they’ll even cut it down for you for free at most hardware stores). You can add finials and no one would ever know 🙂

    • Mary Elizabeth says

      Emily, you are very clever!

      The treatment you suggest, drapes extending over the wall on either side of the window, is a typical midcentury treatment, at least in my memory of relatives’ houses. My grandmother, for example, had a picture window in her master bedroom, high on a hill looking over the river. The draw draperies were always pulled way to the sides on extended rods and covered a whole wall of the room. Then she had blinds that could be lowered if you wanted (like when someone was ill and sleeping in the day time), but since no one could see into the house, she almost never pulled the blinds down.

      My grandfather had put the picture window in so he could see the boats on the river, so why close the drapes and blinds? He didn’t even understand why she wanted drapes to begin with. But as a kid, I thought they lent an elegance to the room and softened the hard edges of the window. (Also, they were a good place to hide while playing hide and seek with the cousins.) 🙂

  3. Schnitzelbank says

    Hi Pam,
    Get with me, if you’re looking for a vintage rattan living room set. Club chairs, sofa, hey-wake end table, kidney-bean coffee table, a third rattan table…. All in black groovy barkcloth (cushions are removable, so easy to make cushions in whatever barkcloth you’d like). Set belonged to my great aunt, was made in Florida in the 50’s. Just doesn’t fit right in any room in our home now, and I’d love to see it go to the right home! 😉

  4. Kristen says

    My 1956 house came with original barkcloth pinch pleat curtains in the wood paneled den. They are still hanging in there but not for long. I just don’t love the look. Hubby says I should sell them on ebay. After reading this, I might just do that.

  5. Anita says

    I had our vintage rattan sofa upholstered in the Bird of Paradise in natural as in the photo above. It’s been about 4-5 years now and still in excellent condition, good quality nubby barkcloth. Plus even people who are not drawn to the MCM and/or tiki decor comment on how fab that fabric is.

  6. says

    Their price of $15 for pillow covers is great! I’ve seen retro print pillows going for $45 and up. These don’t include the pillow form, but those are cheap. And free shipping!

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