Tag Archives: vintage linens

So Not Me, But I Like It

Thanks to the generosity of a recent acquaintance I now have a piece of vintage embroidery, and I’m curious to find out exactly what it is.

The base fabric is heavy and canvas-like, and the binding is lighter weight. The embroidery thread made it through a soak in Biz without bleeding. Alas, the stains are still there, though lighter. I’m wondering if they were caused by spilled tea. Any thoughts for further remedial action are appreciated.

I think it’s to be tied around one’s waist like a small apron to hold sewing notions like scissors, etc. If so, it’s for a slender-waisted person. I don’t think it’s to be tied onto a table or chair, given the curved shapes.

My dilemma is, what to do with it. It could make a cute pillow with the embroidered areas appliqued onto a base. I thought an oval shape might work with the sprays of blue flowers added on the side. Of course I have no fabric in stash that looks right with it. Or, I could wear it at sew-ins and confound fellow sewers with it. I can hear them now, saying “I thought you didn’t like that sort of thing.” That’s usually the case, but I love word play and the embroidery is nicely done.

All guesses and opinions are welcome.


Filed under Commentary

Signs of Spring

I haven’t seen freshly cut branches of pussy willow for years, but to me they mean spring is just around the corner. When I was young my aunt would always fill large vases with the branches and I loved to stroke the soft catkins.

When we decided to use the word March for an art quilt group challenge, I immediately thought of those catkins. Then I remembered a small table cloth with matching napkins I had saved from my parents’ house. They were embroidered with pussy willows.

When I unearthed them I recalled why I never used them. The fabric is an unpleasant synthetic. I have no idea what it is, but the set was a wedding gift to my parents circa the late 1940s. I think the embroidery thread is rayon, but the golden yellow cloth doesn’t feel like rayon, and I don’t want to try a burn test on it while the house is closed up.

I’m sure vintage linens collectors will be horrified, but I cut out the embroidered motifs, fused them to gray fabric and stitched them down.  Since that looked bare, I added branches and the outline of a bird’s nest.  Then, the branches needed adornment so I painted catkins and embroidered the brown bits at the stem with perle cotton. I topped off my efforts with yellow dots on the catkins to represent pollen.

Now it’s a new pillow, backed with some Martha Negley fabric I love but could never figure out how to use.

Pussy Willow Pillow

Pussywillow Pillow Back


Filed under Art quilts, Completed Projects

What Will Happen To This Stuff?

One of the blogs I follow, Love Those “Hands At Home,” often features vintage linens. I thought of that blog as I sifted through items I’ve inherited that have been stuffed in the back of my linen closet and the bottom of a blanket chest.

All of the items were made by now deceased family members who did cutwork, crocheted, and embroidered. None of it is museum quality, but I’ve kept it because of the family links.

I believe my mother and her sisters stitched the cutwork, which came as kits with thread and stamped linen.

cut workI use this on my night stand.

Continuing in the embroidery vein, here’s a crib cover done on heavy muslin stamped with the pattern. I think an aunt did this one.

cross stitch crib coverMaybe this could be quilted with the addition of batting and backing.

Then there’s a trio of wool crocheted throws made by a great aunt using yarn from a local carpet factory. I think she took whatever she could get, which helps explain the colors. They are durable (I took them to college) but scratchy.

Striped wool crocheted throwWool crocheted throwStriped squares wool crocheted throwI guess they’re the crochet version of scrap quilts.

So, what am I going to do with all this stuff? I don’t think my brother or son will want them and there are no other close relations to offer them to. While I’ve managed to repurpose old damask tablecloths by dyeing them, I don’t see how I can repurpose most of the above items.

dyed damask tablecloth detailThen I thought about the pile of quilts I’ve made. What will happen to them after I’m gone? I think I’d better start giving even more of them away now.


Filed under Commentary