Fats, Scraps, etc. Oh My!


This week, I put in a bunch of 1900’s to 1960 vintage quilt pieces (scraps, fats, etc. oh my) Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. Anyway, as I started child-and-mom - Copyto say before my mind wandered off to its secret place, I put of load of vintage quilt material in both stores, and I put all fabric on sale (50% off) to clear out some of the inventory I have. As I worked away, I got me to thinking about how to take care of vintage quilts. I called Mom, who used to quilt all the time. First words out of her mouth were “very carefully.”

When I asked what she meant by ‘very’, she explained. Never dry clean a cotton quilt since the weight of the ‘fluid’ may place more stress than ‘water’ on old fabric. I emphasized fluid and water for a reason. Dry-cleaning fluid is heavy with chemicals. (Who would have thought?) Its weight will tear old fabric. Her next bit of advice was “never hang a wet quilt on a single line.” Same reason. The water pools at the bottom, placing stress on the seams and threads at the top as they drape over the small line. If you have to dry a quilt outside, hang it over two or even three lines, evenly distributing the weight of the quilt. If you have a lot of quilts or need to wash and dry many for sale, consider making a rope drying rack. The look like an old rope bed king size bed. One of my mother’s friends uses an old king bed size frame she weaves into a bed of ropes.

Bottom line of all this is be careful with vintage quilts. I am sure you have seen some beautiful ones for sale in an antique store, only to turn it over and find the material separated, or the stitching torn out. Makes you want to cry doesn’t it?

Speaking of Vintage Quilts, make sure you check out the new ones we placed in the store. I dated the one back to 1930, the other, I believe goes back to around 1945. Both came from an estate sale and both are fantastic examples of the quilting craft.

Stepping Into the Past to Live for Today


It makes sense that as owners of a vintage linen and lace shop, we are in love with fine linens. Tight woven linen, some white, some cream, some with hand printed flowers and vines, with vivid red, yellows and green colors in distinctive patterns. Colors just as alive and vibrant today as when they were first produced. You can visualize the artist passing the linen through each color separation, but not always registering the cloth exactly, as would happen if it were in today’s high-speed linen press. That’s what makes vintage so special; the imperfections given a warm hand, versus the cold steel of today’s production methods. Then you have the beautiful Damask linens, each with their subtle but distinctive pattern, that when laid out on a table, along with the matching napkins and fine silver, make dinner with friends a special event.

Oh, did I fail to mention we just picked up a trunk full of vintage linen this weekend? You probably would have guessed it anyway. I have spent my day, literally lying within the folds of history. I have smelled the clean air, the aroma of the slow cooked pot roast. In my mind, I have heard the clatter of dishes and dinnerware over the chatter of family all sitting down to Sunday dinner.

I started thinking, what makes the experience of touching fine linen so special? For that matter, what makes the experience of collecting anything so special? Is it the love of handcrafted quality or the secret hoarders in me coming out.

I don’t know the exact answer; it’s different for everyone, but I have my suspicions. The 30’s, 40’s, 50’s are my favorite years and it’s hard to pick any one thing that makes these generations stand out, until you voice all adjectives and realize that you have used “quality” more than once.

The fact that the linens that we hold in our hand are so crisp and wonderfully colored after all these years and hundreds of washings later, are a big part of it. Modern day linens miss this level of quality. Maybe it’s the fact that these were produced when pride and quality of workmanship was in everything.

Perhaps that’s what all of us look for when we purchase anything vintage. We are purchasing a chance to get back an era when times were simpler and families were closer and pride in workmanship was paramount. When you pick up a napkin from the 30’s you get the same feeling your grandmother felt and the same feeling your children will feel when they are the recipients of your collection.

Secretly I want to keep every linen napkin I touch; every lace doily I wash, or every tablecloth I fold. I want my daughter to have this quality long after my passing. Then my husband says the magic words that bring me back to why we opened this store. He’ll say, “Do you know that when a customer buys these linens, that their children will probably end up using them in their future?” I pause and think about that and then it strikes me, that this is the guarantee that “quality” gives you. That’s what I live for. By retrieving, preserving and passing on this bit of cloth, I pass history forward. That makes me smile.

We consolidated our stores into two locations B30 & B26. within the American Classics Marketplace @ 1815 N. Academy CS/CO. Stop in a pick a piece of this history. Take a look at what American workers did. Some of them (many of them) were your grandmothers and grandfathers, maybe – if you’re older, even your mother and fathers. They did good back then.

Image

Space B30. Check out the lace.

Side Board 1920 - 1930

Bringing Back Style & Quality


The eclectic look in home decorating is trending. Repurposing, reusing, refurbishing is

Side Board 1920 - 1930

Side Board 1920 – 1930

in vogue. Thank Goodness. I never thought my house would ever get back in style. Actually one of the reasons why are in the antique and vintage linen and lace business is because we love quality. Hold a piece of 1890 – 1930 lace up to a piece of lace from the “mart” stores, you’ll see what I mean by this. Remember the 70’s?  Avocado walls, polyester and shag carpeting? I can do without the long shag, but the denser and shorter shag does make a great retro look for select rooms. How about the 80’s with the popcorn ceiling and the color “salmon?” What, you don’t remember salmon colored walls?  How about avocado?  We don’t use sideboards that much anymore and we don’t store blankets or linens in chest of drawers that much, because our homes and condos are getting smaller. We don’t have the room for too much furniture, but we still want the quality and style associated with that era. So, what can we do? One popular idea is to repurpose / retrofit a Victorian Chest of Drawers or Side Board into a remodeled bathroom sink and cabinet. My next decorating change will be to scrape the popcorn from my ceiling. However, thinking with my retro state of mind, if I don’t look up, it can wait for another year. Who knows, it might come back in style.

Goodbye 2013


Once again, we find ourselves at the end of a hectic year.  I am not sure if I can ever get the image of Miley Cyrus swinging across the screen

Happy New Year 2014

Happy New Year 2014 (Photo credit: Eustaquio Santimano)

naked on her wrecking ball, nor the horrible carnage of the Boston Marathon out of my mind, but I am going to try real hard.

I wish to thank all you who helped make my stores as successful as they were last year, especially those of you who stopped in and said hi on the weekends when I had a chance to be in the stores.  I had a ball meeting with you.  Let’s do it again real soon.

I want to thank those who stopped by my Facebook Page and who visited our website/blog at Linens2Lace.com.  Thank you for your kind remarks.  I want to thank those of you who purchased the many types of vintage linens I have in stock and those who simply browsed and had kind words to say.  Thank you for picking up our “Use Anytime” discount cards and for telling your friends.

I want to thank my furniture buyers.  You made my year.  We decided to mix up our offerings this last year by bringing in antique and vintage furniture that reflected what you might find in sewing rooms or the bed and bath area.  We are very pleased with the results of this mix.

My wish for all of you is a very prosperous 2014.  My mother always told me to never discuss politics or religion, so I won’t – except to say that my hopes are for 2014 to find a congress that remembers that they are “for the people” and not just their individual party affiliations.  Sorry Mom – I had to do it.

I am looking forward to this year.  I am looking forward to meeting all my friends again, including strangers who I consider friends I haven’t met yet.  With my teaching schedule, I get in to the stores on weekends and on holidays so once again, if on a weekend you see someone with their nose buried in a pile of vintage linens or lace – it’s probably me.  Stop in and say hi.  I’d love to visit and show you around.

Best wishes and Happy New Year 2014

Shopping For Fabric When Making Fabric Handbags


English: Handbags, unidentified material, FW20...

English: Handbags, unidentified material, FW2010 Collection (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Let’s say you love handbags and you just can’t get enough of them.  In fact, your closet is filled with so many of them, that it seems as if the store has moved into your very own apartment.  The prices of these handbags can range from very cheap to very expensive.  There are many of us who are gifted with the talent to make our very own fabric handbags.  Creative people who love vintage designs, take handles and other hardware from old out of date bags and apply new / vintage material to them making their own design.  However, what material do you use?  That is the subject of todays article.

It is important that you at least have a general idea of the different types of fabric or material that is available for the type of lifestyle you and your bag will lead.  Much of this material can be found in one of our two stores; either The Treasure Shoppe downtown Colorado Springs, or American Classics antique Mall on North Academy.  Our fabrics are on either on the large racks or in the cubbies.

Materials best for handbags. 

There are certain types of delicate material that need the utmost care when removing stains.  You may not want these for a handbag consistently exposed to the perils of everyday use.  While there are other materials that is easier to maintain, you need to that you pay close attention to the cleaning directions of the different types of fabric.

  • Cotton comes in a wide array of choices when it comes to color, weight, patterns and design.  Plus the material is very easy to manipulate and cut.  It is advisable to pre-wash cotton before making it into a handbag.
  • Silk is not recommended for DIY handbags because aside from the fact that it requires dry cleaning, the material is difficult to handle and is more prone to stains.  Satin is the same, never the less, silk or satin make a great liner for some of the more elaborate designs.
  • Linen.  The bad thing about linen is that it easily wrinkles.  However, the wrinkled look is often desired for that one of a kind design.  Dry cleaning is recommended.  Use no bleach and avoid designs that require crimping or hard folds, as linen fibers will break.
  • Leather is a very durable material. The thing is it requires special equipment when you use this plus only a professional can clean it.  Suede can be brushed which sometimes may remove a small discoloration or stain.
  • Burlap makes a very rustic bag.  Great for that trip to the beach or mountains.  Stains don’t show up as bad with burlap, but even if they do, they tend to give burlap a rustic used look.
  • Canvas is another great DIY bag material.  A little fabric paint for a creative design adds to its long-lasting value.

The fabrics I have mentioned are just some of the many that you could choose from.  I strongly suggest that you experiment with a few.  We have the selection and we recommend trying the vintage fabrics we have before you invest in new modern imported fabrics.  Ultimately, you have the knowledge for what works best for you and your skill in crafting the bag.

Scranton Lace Company – Two Centuries of Quality.


Close-up view of the punch cards used by Jacqu...

Close-up view of the punch cards used by Jacquard loom on display at the museum of science and industry. Photograph taken by George H. Williams in July, 2004. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Scranton Lace Company stood as a testament to quality industry.  The company was the largest producers of Nottingham Lace using massive Jacquard looms brought in by ships from Nottingham, England in 1896.  Construction workers and engineers installed the massive Jacquard looms, planting them firmly on huge concrete footings, then built the plant around them.

Employing over 1400 people in its heyday,  Scranton Lace Company had to be a great place to work.  The plant; spanning over two city blocks, was not only the largest employer in the area, but it also housed its own theater, bowling alley, infirmary, gymnasium and barbershop.  When WWII broke out, Scranton Lace was right there with the troops.  The plant shifted some of its looms into producing camouflage and mosquito netting.  For looms of this size using Punch Card technology, this was no easy feat.

During the 50’s, import competition from a war-torn Japan looking to rebuild and China with its cheap labor force, forced the company to layoff workers.  This hit the town of Scranton very hard as the lace company was it’s largest employer.  Then, when risky investments in the fledging Television industry of the 50’s failed to pay off, the company could no longer compete.  It held on with a skeleton crew producing minimal lace products, until finally in 2002 the company president – walked on to the production floor and during mid-shift, announced the plant closed – effective immediately.  The plant lay abandoned from then on.

Being a lover of fine vintage lace, I started out to write this post to impress you with how lace was produced and to show you one of the best examples of manufactured lace that ever existed.  However, words alone cannot give you the full magnitude of this process, nor the sense of loss you feel when you look upon the abandoned plant.  To appreciate the process fully, you have to see it and to do that without travelling to Scranton, I recommend the pictorial journey through the abandoned Scranton Lace Plant you can find at http://wiseminds.com/thedigitalmirage/?p=136  .  The photographers did a fantastic job of capturing the heart and soul of this plant.  It is well worth your time to see the photography; especially the looms and the punch cards used to produce the miles and miles of lace, that came off them.

I caution you however.  If you love antiques, and long for the quality produced in an era long past, you will come away from the pictorial journey feeling a sense of loss for an era we can never hope to recapture again.  An era when “quality” was a word you heard more often than “profit” in the board meetings.

There is hope for the old plant however.  On December 30 2011, the company’s abandoned building was featured in the pilot episode of the Abandoned TV series.  That drew national attention to it.  In 2012, the factory complex was added to the National Register of Historic Places and then in 2011, plans for restoration were placed before the Scranton City Council.

Getting Things White for Spring – Glorious Spring.


Linen

Linen (Photo credit: Rameez Sadikot)

We have been busy and it has been good but I have been neglectful, so I hope today’s entry makes up for it.  The new site in American Classics is growing in customers and we are happy as can be.  We added the Victorian Section and that too has grown in popularity.  The other day I spoke with a woman who was getting married and she was going to have a Victorian / Steampunk wedding.  Because of our yellow tag sale, she bought things right and left.  That would be a fun wedding to attend.  I hinted my behind off, but to no avail.

Another lady asked me how to get older linens white.  Here’s a quick formula I use for the linens here.  It’s a gentle remedy.

In a large roaster or pot, (I use the roaster we roast the Turkey in.) fill with hot water and several slices of lemon.  Bring to a boil, turn off the heat and add your linens.  I sit the roaster over two of my top burners.  Use a wooden spoon to push them down until they become completely submerged and saturated with the water.  Cover the pot and leave overnight.  I cover mine with tin foil.  The following day, rinse well, wash with mild detergent and water as usual and then lay the items out in the sun to dry.

Another way to do this, especially while it’s still cold outside when you would end up with frozen linens, is to use Biz & Oxyclean  Use 1 Scoop Biz and 1 Scoop Oxyclean to 1 Gallon Hot Water.  Soak in the hot water for up to 48 hours, then rinse and launder as usual.   Use the scoop that comes with the Oxyclean.  This works very well. 

By the way, I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait for spring to get here.

Something old – something new . . .


Bride and women

Three Generations of Brides (Photo credit: spaceodissey)

As I write this, it’s cold outside, something close to 15 degrees.  It is expected to get to a balmy 19 today.  My husband, dressed in his lucky Bronco’s shirt and sweat pants, sits in his easy chair, outfitted with all the goodies he will need for the big game today.  Makes you think of Spring and weddings doesn’t it?

I never said I was well.  In my defense however, I am sitting here fingering and pricing beautiful damask tablecloths.  When I close my eyes, I can see these on a beautiful spring day, gracing a bride’s table at her wedding. Inauspicious patterns intricately woven together – shimmering when you hold it up to the light.  When paired against a white satin and lace wedding gown, vintage Damask showcases a bride on her special day.

Something old, something new . . .

Of all the vintage linen and lace tablecloth’s I have in stock, Damask is my favorite.  The definition of Damask is a reversible figured fabric of silk, wool, linen, cotton, or synthetic fibers, with a pattern formed by weaving. Damasks is woven with one “warp” yarn and one “weft” yarn, usually with the pattern in warp-faced “satin” weave and the ground in weft-faced or “sateen” weave.  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Damask) This reversible weave is what makes Damask so durable.  One mother told me of having passed her Damask tablecloths to her daughter, just as her mother had passed them on to her, having had them passed on to her from her mother’s mother.  Four generations and each generation had used the same tablecloth to grace the brides table on their wedding day.  What a special tradition.

My mother’s Damask linens never made it out of the fire they had years ago.  I never had the opportunity to appreciate them as I do these I hold in my hand.  However, as I look over at my fourteen year old daughter, her head bobbing to sounds only her ear buds and she can hear (thank god), I think that in a few short years, her newly acquired Damask tablecloths, mine that I pass on to her, will be gracing her wedding table.  She may be deaf by the time she gets married, but on her special day, she and the Damask will be beautiful.

————-

You can start your own Damask traditions by stopping in any (or all) of our stores and picking out your favorite pattern of Damask linens.  Be sure to pick up a brochure with the discount card attached while you are there.  And, as usual, if you see a person with her nose buried in the fresh smell of newly laundered linens, it’s probably me.  Say hi.

We moved


child-and-mom - Copy

Mom & Me in Space B30 @ American Classics

We moved!  We didn’t go far, we simply changed locations within the same store. We moved from the dinky little space C30 to a bigger and better location at B30 – within the American Classics Antique Marketplace on N. Academy and Constitution. The response has been tremendous. People love the new space and I would love to hear what you think. The beautiful lace is no longer hidden. The satins shine and the Damask tablecloths take on a whole new sheen as they are allowed to breathe. Does it sound as if I have become too personal in my relationship with my linens? Perhaps. They needed to be showcased.  Our new home for them does that. I darn near killed my husband moving everything in one day, but he survived. A little special loving, a lot of aspirin and he eventually stopped whimpering.

While you’re there, look for our brochures, because attached to them are discount cards that you can use anytime. Pick one up for your relatives and your friends. In addition to American Classics, the cards are good at our store in the Treasure Shoppe, downtown at Pikes Peak and Wasatch and the Willowstone on Dublin and Academy. Keep them with you because you can use them over again. As usual, if you see me in there, stop and chat. I’ll be the one with that dreamy smile on my face.

I almost forgot.  Take a look at the Tiffany lamp in my husbands new case.  It is one of Tiffany’s earlier “pulled feather” designs and it is stunning.

Recreating an Era


“Nobody wants to live in the past, we just want to be able to step into it when we need to breathe.”  That was the philosophy of the

Armenian needlelace

Armenian needlelace (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

visitor who stood before me, casually fingering the 1860’s Waterfall Satin bedspread I had hanging in the corner. She went on to say, “That is why I created my “get away” room using a Victorian theme. I love everything Victorian. I can step back into that era when ever I want. When things are going too fast, I can close the door and slow the day down. The rest of my house I call modern country but my room is strictly Victorian. I don’t have a telephone or any other modern conveniences in there.”
She stepped around to finger the French Victorian Lamp shades. We were in the Willowstone store and she had been there for about five minutes when we struck up a conversation. She went on to tell me, “I have my books, my Victorian couch, my tea set; which I have filled with Earl Grey, and I have my plush French Provincial chair and footstool, in which to plank my butt in and close my eyes for a while. Sometimes I read, sometimes I merely sit there, unwinding. I may sit there for hours doing nothing but quilting, sewing or reading. Then there are those days when I may only get to sit there for a minute or so. No matter what, this is my sanctuary and I use it.”

She went over to the lace section and picked one of our Quaker Lace tablecloths. “This will look beautiful draped over the back of the settee and used as a shawl.” Just the right weight to keep the chill off the legs in the wintertime, without being as heavy as the wool blankets I have in our living room.”

As she folded it up and stuck in her cart, she went on to say, “ I love to repurpose. Lace of all types are my favorite, plus damask. The quality of the old world workmanship, lives on forever and you can’t find the intricate patterns like you get in bobbin or Quaker lace or the beautiful patterns you see in a pure white Damask tablecloth.” I asked her if her whole house was Victorian Style.  She said, “Oh no, more eclectic than anything else. She was mainly into repurposing. “For example,” she said, “I purchased the entire set of vintage lace curtains you had in your store at American Classics and used those over my windows in my office area. They were vintage Chinese lace; a very delicate pattern. They do well over my modern roll top desk which better accommodates my computer screen. I also purchased that large roll of lace trim you had at the Treasure Shoppe and used that on the walls in the daughter’s room. As you can tell, I shop all your stores. I wanted to do something different, so for their room, so I made a lace-ceiling border, like those stick on borders, around the entire room.”
“I used Elmer’s white glue, watered down slightly to make it paintable with a brush, and then glued the lace to the top of the wall. When it dried, I painted over it. I messed up the first time when I inadvertently stretched it too tight. I got in a hurry. It shrunk and separated from the corners. It was easy to peel off and the second time, I just laid it making sure it wasn’t stretched and I only did one wall at a time.”
She promised to send me pictures I will share with you, but in the meantime, do a Google search for interior decorating lace borders and you should find instructions.
By the end of her stay in my store, I was ready to go home and redecorate. Instead, I sat down and shared her conversation with you. I think she has the right idea. If you are into antiques and vintage, decorate to an era and not just to color, plus, repurpose anything and everything you find for that era. The best part however was her advice on de-stressing by building a “get away” room. Good advice and I’m so lucky to have the perfect stores for it. Now if I could just find that room.