Category Archives: antique

We Depend on You.


Occasionally people ask us where we get our linens. It took us awhile, but at this stage of our business, we depend on our customers; therefore, most of our linens come from referrals and sellers who contact us directly. More than just referrals however, we depend on our customers to tell us what they want. In some cases, especially when it comes to vintage lace, we may buy from a few known dealers or private estates, both local and out-of-state.

In any case, we have specific criteria for what we put in the store and most of our referring agents know what we look for. When they get it in stock or hear of a supply, they contact us. For example, some of our early 70’s and 80’s linens have come from a Chicago estate sale and we are fortunate enough to have established a long-term relationship with the estate so we expect that we will have plenty of beautiful vintage linens for years to come.

Some of our exotic lace came from the granddaughter of a Russian immigrant who ‘hand made’ the lace she carried out of Russia as a young girl, during the revolution. Occasionally, I will come across a great supply of vintage material on either Etsy or eBay that I can’t pass up. I have selected dealers on both these sites that I have bought from before and what they sell is quality.

Bottom line is that we depend on people, just like you, people with taste and an eye for fine linen that holds that old school quality. Thank you for you e-mail and your suggestions. Please keep them coming. If you’re local and have vintage linens to sell, contact us. We are always in the market.

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Male Menopause or Why I Killed Him.


Living room in a Bowen residence, ca. 1905
Living room in a Bowen residence, ca. 1905 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I haven’t been near a keyboard for over a week. Why? Because my husband and I decided to change ( he say’s redecorate) our living room. I mean, he decided to change the living room and I said OK. In my defense, I was half asleep at the time.

I don’t know what comes over him sometimes. He likes change. I don’t. He thrives on chaos, I don’t. He sits and thinks (that what he says he’s doing) and then suddenly jumps up and starts moving stuff around. I admit, I tend to move things first, then move them back when it doesn’t look right. Maybe he has that part right, but it won’t work as a justifiable motive in my murder trial.

Anyway, we are finished (I am anyway) and maybe – just maybe, we can get back to normality around here. We did manage – between trips to the home store, to put in some new – beautiful 1950’s kitchen and bath linens, and our Mothers Day sale is still on, so I guess some things still work right. I’ve got to end this for now because he wants to move the TV – again.  He didn’t like my spot.  It must be male menopause.  Does anyone else have a husband like this?  I’d like to know so I can mount my defense ahead of time.

Mothballs and Persimmons


Ripe Hachiya persimmons on a tree in December
Ripe Hachiya persimmons on a tree in December (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Persimmons.  That was the smell, persimmon.  I stood with my nose buried into the cloth, taking in the smell that brought me back to my childhood.  Even thought I wash and iron all my stock I could still smell it.  My mother used to pack her linens with a persimmon scent.  Where she got it from, what she used, I don’t know.  I didn’t want to put the towel down.

Mothballs, the next smell that came to me, brought me back to my grandmother’s house.  Trying to sleep; on those rare times that we would sleep over and she would drag out the guest bedding.  Bedding stored with packets of mothballs.  To this day, the smell conjures up the memory of her; which in turn, brings up the scent of Noxima, the stuff she smeared on her face at night to remove her multiple layers of makeup.  Of course, she had to kiss us kid’s goodnight before she took the goop off.  Why?  I don’t know.  To this day, I can’t stand the smell of Noxima.  Into the rewash pile this piece of linen goes.  I’ll wash it with my new lavender-scented softener.  I love the smell of lavender.  It calms me.  I need calming.

If you ever see me in The Treasure Shoppe with my face buried in my linen stock, giggling – don’t worry about me.  I’m not the crazy woman in space B4.  I’m simply taking my occasional trip down memory lane.  .

Patience and Talent


What happens when you combine patience with talent?  You get one of the most unusual bedspreads we have ever seen.  Done by hand, we were told it was a bedspread, but as big as it is, it could just as well decorate a large table.  It’s in the store now.  See what you think. 

The Reason I Collect and Sell


The other day, I was in the store straightening up the linens and repackaging some lace that someone had left out, when Kitchen Towelsa woman came in a started browsing.  I greeted her and she replied in kind then without another word, went about her browsing seemingly with purpose.  I went back to my straightening up and yet occasionally I could hear her softly chuckling to herself, as she would pick up one tablecloth or drapery at a time.  Soon, she started fingering the napkins and then the bed linens; all the while softly talking to herself or, as I said before, softly chuckling.  Eventually she got close to me and I commented, “Beautiful aren’t they?”  She looked at me and with a slight twinkle in her eye said, “Oh my, do I sound like an idiot?  I’m so sorry, but I must sound like an old nut job.  When I came in here earlier this week, I had to stop myself from smiling out loud.  I keep forgetting that other people are around.”  I told her not to worry, that she didn’t sound like a nut, when she continued to explain, “It’s the linens dear, the lace, they so much remind me of when I was a little girl, helping my mother wash and press the linens.  Every Wednesday was our wash day and my job was to iron and fold the little tea napkins and kitchen towels, when I wasn’t in school.” 

I could see the memories in her eyes as she very carefully folded each towel back up and neatly placed it back on to the stack.  I could tell she was doing it the same way she did as a child.  Rose (that was her name) eventually bought two 50’s hand towels and a couple of lace dress tops I had salvaged.  She said she was going to make a gown with a lace top for her granddaughter.  As I thanked her for her purchases, she stopped me and said, “No, thank you for the memories.  I’m going back home at the end of this week, and this little shop has added a special memory to my trip. 

I have to admit that prior to Rose coming in, as I was ‘cleaning’ up after people, I had asked myself if all the work I put into this shop was worth it.  In one brief encounter, Rose made it all worthwhile.  Thank you Rose – wherever you are.  You are the reason I collect and sell vintage linens.  You managed to put a smile on my face on a day when I needed it the most.

Patriotic Teddy Bears


Estate auctions and antique stores are often great places to find vintage linens and bedding.  This beautiful Patriotic Teddy Bear Queen size Quilt with Pillow Shams is a good example of a find that will be going into our store this week.  Beautifully stitched and thick, it appears to have never been used.  Priced at only $159.00 we don’t expect it to last long.Patriotic Teddy Bear Queen Quilt w/ Shams

Buying Vintage Linens


What is the difference between muslin and combed cotton? 

The sticker says 300 thread count.  I can see my hand through it.  Is the sticker correct? 

These are examples of the questions I get by e-mail, which lead me to believe that there is a lot of misinformation out there regarding the purchase of linens, especially vintage linens.  Let’s see if I can clear up a couple of questions I get most often. 

Muslin pieced
Muslin pieced (Photo credit: lovelihood)

Muslin vs Cotton.  If you have very young children and you are looking to stretch your dollars by buying long-lasting bedding for those rough little dirty feet, stick with muslin.  It’s a little rougher in terms of feel, but a lot tougher and easier to clean than pure cotton.  When your child grows out of their small beds, you can change over to a cotton blend sheets, usually called “percale,” which is softer because the thread count is between 160 to 200.  If you are buying 300 thread count or higher designer sheets for your little ones, I want to come live with you. 

Which leads me to my second question and answer.  Thread count.  Simple put, thread count is the number of threads per square inch of fabric.  Unless you shop with a “Linen Loop,” always on you, (a high-powered magnifying glass for counting threads) how can you tell if that sticker showing a 300 thread count is correct?  First look for a manufacturers tag sewn into the edging..  If none or faded into non-existence, hold the fabric up to the light.  If you can see the weave and the light through the cloth, you have a low thread count on your hands, probably 150 to 200 TPI.   Next, feel it.  The higher the thread count, the softer the fabric. 300 and higher thread count is very soft and not easy to see through. 

I hope this helps for now.  I’ll have more linen buying tips later.

Wrinkled Fingers and Time


 
A wrinkled finger after a warm bath
Image via Wikipedia

This has been a busy two weeks.  We, (Mom & Me,) have washed, pressed and folded more vintage linen in the last two weeks then we would have in an entire lifetime.  We both have wrinkled fingers.  I have to admit, half the time we sat admiring the linens we held and the other half of the time, between the folding and stacking, was devoted to commenting on them.  What is it about a pure white or cream Damask tablecloth that brings a sparkle into ones eye?  What is it about a table napkin with 1950’s colors and patterns that bring me back into an era I would have longed to live in?  What causes me to pause when I hold up a bit of vintage pillow lace?  Is it the thought that someone, years early, in a quiet and dusky room, sat patiently and painstakingly, twisting and turning each individual bobbin until inch by inch this lovely delicate pattern emerged?  Perhaps that’s why when I try to press out the wrinkles accumulated over the years it sat idle, I don’t get frustrated.  If they had the patience to make it beautiful, I have the patience to present it properly. 

Lace
Lace (Photo credit: Nefi)

Take a look the next time you are in our store.  We put our lace pieces in the lace basket, usually in zip-lock bags to keep them clean.  See if you see what we see and then let us know what you felt when you ran it through your fingers and held it up to the light.  I guarantee you will come to appreciate it more when you apply it to your new dress or table creation.

Until next time, recycle, repurpose and stay green.

Holding on to an age of quality


(Photo credit: George Eastman House)”][MCCALL'S MAGAZINE, KIDS IN LINEN CLOSET]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 afforded 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 and roasted potatoes.  In my mind, I hear 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 vintage so special? 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 then 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 little bit of cloth, I pass history forward. That makes me smile.

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.

upcycled napkins {diy}


napkin diy




Remember the pillowcase I picked up here? Well now we’re enjoying it as a new set of napkins – just in time to complement my new cooking skills!

I love upcycled projects like this, especially when they’re as easy as one two three (cut, iron, sew – oh and of course pre-wash so make that four).

Buen provecho!

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