Rummaging through our lace box, the young woman asked me if we ever dyed our lace. I smiled thinking back to the hours of hand washing, categorizing and pricing each piece. I told her no, that due to the demands on my time, that was one area of owning a vintage linen store, I had yet to venture in to. I asked her what she was looking for. She didn’t know, just looking but she mentioned that she was in town for her Aunts second wedding and was looking for a special gift, “something old,” she said. Lace and Ribbons for sashes are used for weddings or first communions. They make great gifts and because they are from gentler eras long past, they represent something very special. Pale blue or light rose are perfect colors. Think about a spring winter morning sky.
By the way, as long as we are talking quality vintage and pricing, (we were, weren’t we?) monogram bed linens are often very heavy. They were favored by the wealthy who could afford to have them monogrammed. The thread count for many of the vintage linens is over 1000 and some we have estimated approach the 2000 mark.
Remember, if you like bargains, (and who doesn’t) when shopping either one of our stores; “The Treasure Shoppe” or “AmericanClassics Antique Mall”, be sure to pick up your discount card. Keep the card with you, give one to your friends and every time you or your friend purchase our linens, just present the card at the checkout counter.
And once again, if you see a woman with her nose buried in the linens, it’s probably me. Stop in and say hi. Tell me what you’re looking for. I probably have it.
And now I want to step away from the store for a moment. These last couple of weeks in Colorado have been devastating. The flooding has uprooted and separated family’s, destroyed or severely damaged homes and cost lives. As I write this, the news is reporting on another tragic loss of two young people caught in rushing waters. I’m trying hard not to cry. We may be strong here in Colorado and we can rebuild property, but we cannot bring back loved ones. My heart goes out to all who are affected by the floods. Please head the warnings and do whatever you can to keep you and your families safe.
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.
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.
So, my husband; feeling a bit left out of my vintage linens, (what man isn’t?) decided to add a “Dads Corner” to my AmericanClassics – B30 space. “Dads
Corner” in a Mom & Me space? What, is he crazy? Well, as it turns out, he may not be. He put in some of his vintage pens that he took from his other case in the store (case 409), some beautiful paperweights that I had admired when he first purchased them, and some funky art pieces that frankly make me laugh every time I look at them. (The “Primitive Printers” on top of the case is so ugly – it can only be a piece for a man cave or a writer with a sense of humor.
Anyway, he set the case up and immediately it started to gain attention. Mostly from the men who’s wives were forcing them to wait while they visited my lovely linen selection. I began to see my husbands thinking here. Mom & Me should be a shop that everyone could enjoy. Of course his reasoning was that it helped poor husbands who are doing their best to pass the time while waiting. Then he began to put in some Japanese and Chinese Netsuke carvings. Now he had my attention and, as it turns out, some of the attention of my visiting wives. Now he has three cases – two in Space B30 and one in Space B26 where he has many of his older Victorian items.
Good for him – it keeps him out of trouble and out of my . . . well you know what I mean.
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 AmericanClassics 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.
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! 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.
“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.
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
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.”