Friday, June 17, 2011

Tammis Keefe..vintage textile designer

Once I got into collecting vintage hankies (really collecting), I discovered Tammis Keefe and fell in her designs. They were so different from the usual floral hankies, whimsical and fun, her designs really stood apart.  Since then I search her out, though her hankies and textiles are coveted by more collectors than just me...and are very pricey.  I feel so lucky when I can snatch one up at a reasonable price and add it to one of my pillow fronts. Here are a few that have made my front cover so far... 

Born Margaret Thomas Keefe on December 27, 1913 in Los Angeles, her father, Thomas Keefe, had passed away the week before she was born.  Her family called her Peg, a common nickname for Margaret. Tammis (gaelic for Thomas) grew up in Los Angeles where she lived with her mother, aunts and grandparents.


 The blonde and blue-eyed Keefe initially studied higher mathematics at Los Angeles Community College, but decided to change her career focus after visiting Chicago’s Art Institute while on a trip to see the 1933-34 World’s Fair.  She attended the Chouinard Art School in Los Angeles (now the California Institute of the Arts) to study painting. 


 She began designing handkerchiefs for Kimbal scarves in the late 1940s or early 1950s.  Her designs are typically 1950s - full of whimsy with those great 1950s colors: pink, turquoise, gold and black.



Keefe's work also shows a love of nature and animals. Her dog and cat hankies are true 1950s classics.  Other designs to look for are her antique furniture and motifs, holidays including Christmas and Valentine's Day, and the special designs she made for the famous 21 Club in New York.


Handkerchiefs, linen kitchen towels and scarves are what Tammis Keefe is known for today because of their availability.  However, she designed for home furnishing fabrics (Goodall Industries and Golding Decorative Fabrics), wallpaper, all manner of kitchen linens in addition to towels including tablecloths, placemats with matching napkin sets and cocktail napkins (Fallani & Cohn, Falfax All Linen and Goodall).  She also designed sportswear shirts for men and women (Marlboro Shirt Company), Christmas cards (Irene Dash Greeting Card Co.), playing cards (Random Thoughts  Publications Co.), glassware, dishware and product advertising and packaging. 
 Bio from Making It Fun


My Vintage Hanky Pillows are available from my Etsy store or Leaping Lotus, my spot in Solana Beach, CA.  Until the end of July I'm offering a free shipping promo at my Etsy store.

Here is a Tammis Keefe Treasury I pulled together from other Etsy sellers & Tammis on the link below and enjoy !
Etsy  Tammis Keefe Treasury

 Thanks for sticking with me while I go on and on about my Tammis Keefe...
as always...if you have something to add or share...DO IT !!!

Make it a wonderful day !


  1. Wonderful post, Denise. I think Ms. Keefe's fan base grows daily by getting the word out like this.

  2. Very interesting, Denise! thank you for sharing this talented woman with us. Love her designs and your use of them would delight her, I'm sure. :)


  3. Denise, I really enjoyed learning about Tammis should link this blog post to your Tammis Keefe hanky pillows in your shop. It makes for interesting reading!

  4. What an inspiration! I too have collected hankies for most of my life and this gave me so many ideas. I have the Calories hankie and plan on doing something fun with it now that you have inspired me.
    Gale Crowne


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