Sew Vintage


Upcycled Tablecloth Skirt

Upcycled Tablecloth Skirt (Photo credit: Vancour)

Linens, Lace & Faux Mink.
I am often asked for ideas about the repurposing of vintage linens.  For starters, I’m not a tailor; I’m just a lover of fine silks, satins and lace.  I sew my own creations and do small patchwork before I put our material on sale, but being a schoolteacher doesn’t allow me with a lot of time to take on big sewing projects.  Speaking of patchwork, let me first get this off my chest.  I want you to walk into your laundry room and grab your gallon jug of bleach.  On the front of that jug, in bold black letters, write DO NOT USE ON ANY LINEN, VINTAGE OR OTHERWISE.  Any bleach or bleach related product you have in your laundry room, do the same thing.  Now put the bleach down and step away.  Refrain from using it on any linen, new or old.  In the last two months, I have tossed out more beautiful linens pieces, then I care to think of.  I have tossed out Battenberg and Quaker Lace for the same reason.  It hurts me to have a beautiful damask tablecloth fall apart in my hands. When I see bleach burn holes in lace, I want to scream.  Bleach has its uses in moderation, but the culprit is the overzealous use of bleach.  If you must use bleach, rinse twice neutralizing with a ½ cup of vinegar.  I actually had someone look at a small stain on the lace corner of the Rose Victorian Watermark Satin tablecloth/bedspread we have on sale and ask me if they could use bleach to whiten the Battenberg lace inserts.  After I calmed down, I pointed out that this was an expensive Tablecloth/bedspread with ecru lace, which was hand sewn circa 1880 – 1890.  One should not whisper the word bleach in the same room as this piece.

Now that I have that off my chest, I feel better.  The other day, I was going back through some old posts and one of my dear readers had asked if I had any ideas on repurposing left over Damask napkins.  I apparently missed this reader question.  I apologize.  Because old Damask napkins are often large, the first idea that comes to mind is to cut off the damaged part and make Damask placemats.  They would be usable with any tablecloth underneath them.  Another idea is Victorian Doll clothing.

The third is, (if you have enough,) cut the good portions into smaller squares and make a damask quilt.  If you don’t have enough, stop into any of our stores.  We have plenty for you.  A very pretty idea is a linen Damask border with a lace insert, using a vintage lace-curtain panel.  It produces a beautiful tablecloth.  On the reverse side, an old or ruined Damask tablecloth will often produce a large enough usable pieces make a beautiful center, bordered by vintage lace.  Adjust the size of the tablecloth to take full advantage of the usable part of Damask that you have.  Do a search for images on Google using the terms Damask and Lace Tablecloths

What about it readers; have any ideas you can come up with?

One last thing.  Winter is here.  It’s going to get cold.  We just put a large bolt of FAUX MINK into the Willowstone (space 31) store.  But I warn you.  It is so luxurious; and large enough, that – after purchase – you may be overcome with the need to spread it out on the bed and lie naked on it.  When I held it in my hands, my will power was strong, but professional photographers or husbands should take this as a hint.

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An Investment in Time


Lace tablecloth

Why invest in antiques and collectables?  Because during a down economy, it makes good economic sense.  The article at: http://antiques.about.com/od/thewisebuyarticles1/tp/aa100208.htm  explains the point in excellent detail.  It’s no secret that antiques increase in value over time.  In a down economy, people sell.  There are bargains are everywhere.  How many investments have you made where the growth can amount to a 50% or more increase in over one year?

Of course, we deal in linens and lace.  When I look through a pile of new linens, I marvel at the thought that the material I hold is still beautiful despite hundreds, maybe thousands, of washings, abuse, stains, rough handling and love over the 50, 60 or more years since its creation.  The other day in our new Willowstone store, we hung three beautiful examples of true Victorian lace in the form of two tablecloths and a Victorian handmade queen size bedspread.  My husband and I speculated about the stories that the bedspread could tell, having been present at life’s moments that are more intimate.  We could almost recount the family conversations held over the lace as it graced a Sunday dinner table.  Having done the research, we marveled at what its value was today, in comparison to what she had purchased it for 20 years earlier from the estate of its original owner.  I calculated that it had grown in investment value by over 400%.  That’s a simple 20% growth per year of ownership.  Yes, I know the value of compounded growth calculations, inflation, etc., but you get the point.  I wish my retirement package as a teacher grew at that rate.

Antiques represent quality you can’t find in today’s products.  Most of the modern furniture that the average newlywed couple will buy today will end up in landfills.  Rarely does a young adult in today’s society want Grandma’s old Victorian couch or parlor set.  They grew up with them.  Even when they inherit them, they don’t see them fitting their constantly moving lifestyle.  The furniture is old fashion, heavy.  They are ready to move on to the new ultra-modern plastic or pressboard furniture.  Then, while that ultramodern couch is deteriorating, the 130+ year old Victorian couch continues to increase in value.  The French Lace banquet size tablecloth hanging in the corner of our store, ready for you to take it home, will continue to outlast even the best of today’s Chinese polyester import.  Its value will continue to grow while the other is long left to the fabric pile.  The hand cut dovetail joint in the drawers of that American Walnut 1790’s Hepplewhite desk, will continue to open and close a thousand times more than the nailed and hot glued joint of your Swedish import.

However, before I start running off on a tangent and jump on my soapbox, I ask my readers:  At what age did you first notice that antiques were an investment and what factors influenced you?