Category Archives: Green Living

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

1927 Singer


DSCF3038(1)This post is directed to the person or persons who painted the 1927 Singer sewing machine case baby blue – thank you.  You have given my husband many hours of pleasure and kept him out of my hair.  He has toiled away in his workshop, lovingly removing the hideous color from what he tells me, is beautiful oak.  Thank goodness, they didn’t paint the machine itself.

By the way, for all you shabby chic aficionados who are reading this, this was not shabby chic.  I’ll be kind and simply say this was at best – a very poor, sloppy paint job.  (I said I would be kind)  While we love good shabby chic, this was not it.  As the appraiser said, because the machine works are in excellent condition and the cabinet was the more expensive seven drawer model at a time when most of the ones sold were the less expensive five drawer cabinetry, the only solution for preserving it, was to restore it to its natural oak finish.  Once my husband carefully removed the paint, he refinished the beautiful wood with three coats of hand rubbed Tung oil.  That gave it life again and because everything was by hand, he even managed to save some of the old patina that had been painted over.

Once again, I can see where the hand of a young mother rubbed the finish as she guided the fabric through the foot.  One of Singers earliest conversions to power, it still has its treadle, but I can see where her foot rested on the power switch and where the soles of her shoes wore the black paint off the side.  I can see the dents and scratched made from buttons, dropped scissors and probably a child’s tin toy.  If I close my eyes just right, I can even see the gleam in the little girls smile as mother holds up the new Sunday dress she just finished.

The next time you are in Mom & Me’s Vintage Linens & Lace in the American Classics Antique Mall, stop in space B30 and marvel at the simple ingenuity of DSCF3037(1)these beautiful sewing systems.  Look at the quality of the cabinetry work.  The careful attention to the joinery and style of the design.  You know that old world post-war craftsmen created them.  Rest your hands on this beautiful machine, close your eyes and see if you can relive its history.  Yes, it’s for sale at below appraised value because my husband hopes that its next owner will be able to repurpose the machine, but not want to paint it ever again.

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.

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.

Did You Know . . .


Did you know that in 1846 cans were first invented?  How ironic is it that it took 12 years for someone to invent the can opener?  What did they do with the cans for twelve years; sit and look at the shiny metal lining their shelves; wondering what the contents tasted like?  Of course, by 1858, someone had managed to invent the Rotary washing machine.  This invention provided the young homemaker with other things to do than stare at cans.

How many of you, when you were kids, remember chewing Blackjack gum?  Remember your parents looking screaming in horror, thinking you had swallowed black paint?  (Maybe it was just mine who did this; they were a little over dramatic back then.)  Well, in 1872, the year Blackjack gum was invented, kids everywhere shoved it into their mouths by the bucket full.  Who knew it was so old?  So millions of kids (with black gums) chewed Blackjack on the way to the woodpile, because it wasn’t until 1896 that the first electric stove was developed.  This leads me to my next revelation.

Before 1896, it was little Johnny’s duty to stoke Moms cooking fire.  If he was good, his treat was more Blackjack gum.  Only the rich could afford coal, so wood had to do until the something better came along.  In 1896 “better” came in the form of magic.  The first electric stove graced the family’s kitchen.  Homemakers everywhere were happily cooking away on this newfangled contraption up until 1921, when along comes Mr. Henry Ford – a man who couldn’t stand to waste anything.  You remember Henry; he invented the Ford Model T and Assembly Line Manufacturing, but in 1921 after the electric stove had already been in full use and loved my millions of Moms, good Ol’ Henry brought to us the now-familiar charcoal briquette.  Up until then, no one knew they wanted to go back to wood, but Ford got the idea from the scrap lumber left over from building his model T’s.  He had all this scrap, that he could turn into smaller scrap by heating the snot out of it, and that the resulting (now black – semi burnt – scrap) got very hot and lasted a long time when burned in a stove.  Being the salesperson he was, he sold the public on using his newly coined “charcoal” for cooking.  Low and behold 1921 saw the birth of the “Grill Meister.”

Later that same year the first homogenized gallon of milk showed up on the steps of many a home.  A man in a white coat and white hat, who jumped out of a milk wagon pulled by an old tired horse, delivered the new homogenized milk.  If, in the summer, you didn’t get the milk off the stoop first thing in the morning, you had homogenized sour milk.  You drank it anyway.  It was also in 1927 that Kool-Aid was invented.  It had real sugar in it.  Kids preferred Kool-Aid to the sour milk.  I

The building where Gerard and Edwin Perkins in...
The building where Gerard and Edwin Perkins invented Kool-Aid. Located at 518 W. 1st St. in Hastings, Nebraska (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

think this was the year they also coined the medical term “hyperactive.”

By 1930, a man named F.J. Osius had an idea for a mixer that could chew through anything.  He also had no money.  He went to the famous bandleader – Fred Waring for help.  (They probably got drunk mixing the first margarita.)  Waring ended up lending Osius the funds provided that he (Waring) could put his name on the product.  The pair finalized the deal and then Waring took off, traveling around the country with his band plus a large trunk that opened up into (of all things) a bar.  He would play, blend and demonstrate the mixer, then play some more.

Now for the last one.  Do you know why metal lunch boxes are so collectible?   Because in the early 70’s a group of Florida mothers, fearing for the heads of their children, launched a nationwide campaign against allowing metal lunch boxes in school.  Apparently, they became very good weapons during schoolyard fights.  Little Johnny was getting his bell rung with a metal lunchbox.  Apparently, plastic lunch boxes only rang his bell a little.

You can find these tidbits of history and a ton of other information at a remarkable site called Food and Utensil Chronology at https://sites.google.com/site/coquesters/foodandutensilchronology.  Check this site out. It’s great for vintage collectors who want to know the year a particular item they are coveting was born.  It’s also a great spot for someone who’s been laundering a new batch of vintage linens all week after work, who needed a break and who says to her writer husband, “Please write the blog for this week.”

Caring for Satin


Satin bedding
Satin bedding (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Remember me telling you about the material we obtained from a retired vintage doll maker?  Maybe I put it on our Facebook site.  (Linens2Lace.)  Well in addition to the faux mink and beautiful lace, we also put a large selection of beautiful and affordable satin into the Willowstone store.  This is dress material weight in a variety of Victorian colors.  First question asked of us, by the visitor holding up the beautiful black satin bolt, was “Can you wash satin?”

The answer is “of course you can – provided you follow the rules.”

Satin has a smooth silky feel that makes it appealing for many items from garments to bed sheets.  It comes in various weights and thus ranges in durability.  However, there is a limited amount of cleaning options.  The cleaning and care tags that come with your garment should give you all the instruction you need.  However, what do you do with fabric that you have used to make that beautiful one of a kind gown?

Here’s our advice.

Rule 1:  Only wash satin by hand.  If you do use a washer, the gentlest silk cycle is best.

Rule 2:  Cold Water only.  If you do have to use soap, use the gentlest soap you can.  Woolite is good.

Rule 3: Wash satin as you would silk.  Let it soak in soapy water for awhile, then gently squeeze the wash through the satin by hand.  Rinse the fabric real good with cold clear water.  If you leave any soap residue behind it will whiten and show up as spots.  It’s hard to get these out once they set.

Rule 4:  Leave the dryer off.  Never put satin in the dryer.  The dryer will shrink and put a permanent wrinkle in the material.  Instead, lay it flat on a dry towel.  Don’t wring it out, rather roll it up in the towel, squeezing out the excess water as you roll and then put it out onto another dry towel, laid flat away from the sun until dry.

Rule 5:  You can iron satin, but on a light setting with no steam.  I find that going from the inside out works best but don’t linger.  An expensive satin blouse with a burn mark in the shape of an iron on its back, is only humorous in a sitcom.

Rule 6:  Vintage satin should be dry cleaned only.  Use a dry cleaner you have experience with and who you trust.

If you have any other tips, send them to me.

Until next time.

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.