The other day I was in the store putting stuff away and generally cleaning up, when young man came by and started looking at our #vintage #Singer sewing machines. He said he was looking for another one for his girlfriend to use. Apparently he and his girlfriend are #crafts people and the #Singer66 and its smaller version the model 99 are heavy-duty machines, perfect for #crafting. He ended up buying one of mine. Thank you Jake. Continue reading Singer Craft Work
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.
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 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.
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.
When you are facing a raft full of gingham, lace, satins, silks and velvet, what do you think? The first thought that came to my mind was “I need to open a section of Mom & Me’s Vintage Linens and Lace, devoted to Victorian / Gothic (Goth) style. The idea intrigued me so much, the more I thought of it, the better it became. Of course, that thinking led my creative side to go crazy. That expansion led me to adding a partner who’s an expert in furniture and the styling’s of the Victorian era, especially the American Victorian era; where, if you were in the south, extended into the Antebellum era. (After war) Naturally, a theme setting like this, demands authentic furniture and they have some beautiful pieces. The more the idea nurtured and the more we talked about it, the better it became. So, we did it.
We added Furniture like a three-piece parlor set with chairs, footstools and a beautiful couch. Add in matching 1860 velvet couches. Not reproductions mind you, serious Victorian era furniture, including a Barrel top desk and a Victorian dresser with a marble top that will knock your socks off.
Want to see what we produced? Stop in at the American Antique Marketplace and right next to my store in space B30, you will see my new addition in space B26, which include the furniture I just described. If you love Gothic, Victorian, or Steampunk, you will be sure to find something that matches your taste here. Stop in, finger the Satin. Run your hands over the Battenberg lace banquet tablecloth that’s hanging on at the entrance. That’s 123 year old lace you’re holding. Still beautiful to this day and it has many more years left to grace your table. However, if you see me holding tight to the 130 year old Rose colored Watermark satin with Battenberg inserts, please try to understand. I’m having a little separation anxiety.
More pictures to follow.
“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
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.
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.
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?
I have to admit I didn’t know much about steampunk. I probably still don’t know a lot about steampunk, even after my long conversation with two neat people who came into my store dressed in Victorian steampunk style. I’m learning however.
However, I am always curious and open to new things. Shrugging off my middle America farm girl cloak, I went looking for answers to my question “What is Steampunk?” Thanks to Wikipedia I learned that Steampunk is a genre that originated during the 1980s and early 1990s and incorporates elements of science fiction, fantasy, alternate history, horror, and speculative fiction. It involves a setting where steam power is widely used—whether it be an alternate history such as Victorian era Britain or the “Wild West” era United States, Science fiction depicts Steampunk in a post-apocalyptic time —that incorporates elements of either science fiction or fantasy.
Now I understand it. Turns out I do know some of the steampunk styling’s after all. TV Shows such as the television series The Wild Wild West (1965–69), which inspired the film Wild Wild West (1999) with Will Smith as James West. is a Steampunk genre. The popular “Sherlock Holmes” series is considered Steampunk, the modern version with Robert Downey, Jr. more so then the older versions. I love these type of films. If you want to know more about the history of Steampunk, look up the Wikipedia article. It’s a comprehensive look at the genre and the history. I understand why it is attracting so many young people today. It’s creative and inventive and that is exciting to anyone who has a pulse and the ability to fly in the face of convention. I understand this.
I find myself involved because of the linens and the lace that I have in my stores. Turns out the Victorian style genre that steampunk builds on, incorporates the linens, lace and the styles from the Victorian era. Both of my stores are perfect for the creative imaginations of the steampunk aficionados. Even my husband’s collection of desk and writing items; some from the late 1800’s, plus his ornate watches that he has tucked into “Dads Corner” suit the genre. I can’t say that you will ever see me dressed in the steampunk style, (as a teacher I may frighten the conservative parents of my students) but I love the freedom of expression and uniqueness the genre brings. I’ll continue to furnish the lace and satins, but it will take a more creative stylist then I to make the material live in the steampunk tradition. I would love to see the results however.
I’m sure I will have more to say about this fascinating art in later posts. Readers feel free to help me out here. Point me in the right directions.