Monday, April 18, 2011

7. Vintage Doily and Embroidery Pillows

Buttons and patches and the cold wind blowing,
The days pass quickly when I am sewing.
- Author Unknown

Time: Under 30 minutes
Cost: Under $5

I think I first fell inlove with vintage linens when I was a young girl. My cousin and I frequently stayed the night at our Nana and Poppa's house on the weekends and one of my favourite parts of this Saturday night treat was slipping into the bed my grandmother had made for me.  The sheets were thick white cotton - heavy, smooth, and icy cold.  If it was winter she'd pull the apricot coloured feather eiderdown over me before giving me 'butterfly kisses" on my cheek.  In the morning her breakfast table would be set with a pressed tablecloth and our own linen napkins carefully rolled and placed into silver napkin holders by our plates.  She laid the table for her family with care, an offering for those she loved most of all.

Years later I sat down to read Frances Mayes's Under the Tuscan Sun and as I read her descriptions of the tables at Arezzo Market, piled high with linens and lace and snow white sheets with thick monograms looped through the fabric, my desire for old linens was reignited. I'm building my collection slowly. One day I'll have a grand old chest at the end of my bed full to the brim with antique quilts, delicate doilies, and towers of intricate needlework.

I'm always on the look out whenever I'm bargain hunting and the other weekend at a garage sale in Faulconbridge I spotted some embroidered place mats and blue doilies on a table. I decided to make them into some pillows. Here's how to do it:


Collection of doilies, embroidery scraps, old napkins.. anything you see at a vintage store that you love the look of.
Fabric recycled from another project or from a charity shop.
Embellishments - fabric rosebuds for 99c at Lincraft.

Here we go....

For this pink pillow I recycled the fabric from a pink cotton waffle blanket. I made a basic pillow case  or "housewife" pillow case - don't you love the name! There are loads of patterns on the Internet, I followed this method: basic pillow slip.

Once the pillow slip was finished I hand sewed a pale pink embroidered place mat onto the front of the pillow.  I love hand sewing. Sitting in the sun with a needle and thread in my hand makes me feel like I'm in Mrs Bennett's parlour in Pride & Prejudice.
I found a packet of little fabric rosebuds for 99c so I used those in each corner to make it pretty.
This pillow is made from a vintage Irish linen tablecloth that I found at a charity shop for $1.50 and some crochet doilies that I bought at a garage sale for $1.

The pillow case is made using the same envelope method as above and the crochet is hand stitched in place.

Smaller square cushions or long rectangle ones would work just as well.

I hope I've inspired you to take a second look at vintage linens next time you visit a market or garage sale.

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