Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Thrifty Thursday: On the Hunt for Vintage Linens

Old linens, flyin' on the laundry line!

Last year, I picked up this book at a garage sale. I've always loved old linens, and already had a collection of vintage linens going, but this book showed a wonderful variety of uses for linens too damaged to keep and use as they were originally intended. It shows many projects that can be done using the salvageable parts of beautiful old fabric and handwork. So, that began for me, an even more intense search at garage sales or thrift stores for the beautiful and rare fabrics of households past. Where before, I might have only collected embroidered pieces in perfect condition, now just about anything works! And, the creativity of fellow bloggers who make beautiful aprons and pillows is an inspiration to someone like me who has sewing skills but often isn't the most creative THINKER. (My mom has that gift, but it did not get passed to me!)

Look at this idea....perfect use for an imperfect Christmas tablecloth or Christmas hankies...a way to enjoy the graphics and colors without seeing all the stains!

And for kitchen linens...remade and mixed together into useful and beautiful items for the kitchen and dining area!

And who wouldn't love that cherry and aqua/red pillow for their front porch swing?

I had some luck last Saturday on a couple hour late afternoon hunt in a subdivision sale. I picked up all the items shown in this post that day, and this Dutch boy/girl kitchen towel was in perfect condition and will probably become a gift for someone. I LOVE IT! I paid one dollar!

This hankie was in perfect condition, and was a quarter. It's not necessarily my style, but on a white background, it would make a bright pillow cover.

I couldn't leave's an old barbeque apron! I love the graphics and the colors, but don't like the rope-like"string" that you put around your neck and tie in the back. (The string is probably the reason this apron was just like new! It is a VERY uncomfortable design.) I will probably remake the ties and neck loop with fabric that coordinates to make it more user friendly. I haven't decided if I'm going to keep it or not, but it was so bright and happy and was only two dollars!

I put the worst of the stained items in a soak...

This tablecloth is a big square, cost was fifty cents (!!!) and each of the four corners have this teapot and embroidery, and the killer is that each teapot is a pocket that will hold a teabag! TOO CUTE! In this photo, you can see the little pouch or pocket that is formed by the blue part of the teapot! There were two small stains in the center that I've removed using Suzanne's recipe, from her COLORADO LADY'S blog, listed under tutorials, called "Cleaning Vintage Linens". Her tutorial/recipe can be found here. (She also hosts something called "Vintage Thingy Thursdays" which you may find fun if you're a vintage hound!)

This is a large round vintage Christmas tablecloth, with a fine woven yarn fringe edging. It was in excellent condition and needed practically NO stain removal, fifty cents. UNREAL. The lady who sold it said "I take it you like old things! You should have seen what I had here when the sale started!" UH OH! Better late than never, and well, I was pretty content with these finds.

The fabric on this one is thick and heavy and ironed up beautifully. I enjoy the QUALITY of old fabrics as well as their prints. The fabric made in the USA (back when) was EXCELLENT!

This is a wonderful large rectangular vintage print Christmas tablecloth, but was VERY BADLY STAINED, for fifty cents. I was guessing either gravy or Italian food/tomato stains from the color of the blotches. All you need for Suzanne's stain recipe is some time, patience, some Biz, Oxyclean, and boiled water and a plastic tub or plastic dishpan. I got almost every single bad stain out, and I highly recommend her tutorial, because these old items are now almost as good as new!


So, while you're out on the hunt --thrifting or at a garage sale --and you see these rare old beauties, don't be afraid of them if they're stained. You can work on the stains, and if they don't come out, you can always remake it or find a new use for it like this book shows. Or like the many bloggers out there, for instance, Kathleen Grace from Kathy's Cottage, so creative
to make these into something new.


I was so thrilled after that particular "hunt", I can't even begin to tell you how lucky I felt that after a couple days of selling, that these things were still left on the tables! And just looking at them makes me happy. I can't wait to use them, remake them. And of course, a big part of the fun is sharing what I find with you!


Ali said...

Oh how neat! I am learning so much from you, thank you for helping me see things in a new light! Those linens are beautiful, I love the one with the reindeer! And the teapot one is so cute with the little pockets =)

Kathleen Grace said...

Great post Joni! I can't seem to resist the old linens and the Biz soak has taken uut stains I would never have believed could be removed. Rubbing a little Fels Naptha on the stains helps too:>) You got some really great finds. One of the things i love about these old linens is their uniqueness. the teapot linen with pockets...awesome!

Unknown said...

What a neat book! I'd love to find it at a yard sale- I bet there are tons of neat ideas in there!

Sue said...

I love linens! You found some treasures! I have a large box yet unpacked from our move. I think you have just motivated me to go and look for it!

Rue said...

Good morning Joni :)

Beautiful linens!! I have a box full of them and can't sew, but I'm trying to think of a way to use them.

I love the picture your daughter gave you!

Oh and you took out the blown glass.... GASP! Actually I'm sure Rich would love to do the same, because he's all about efficiency and I'm all about cute LOL, but he won't be doing any such thing while there is still breath in this body ;)


The Vintage Rose said...

I love the teapot one I would so like to have one like it. I have or have had one like the last one.

Brenda Pruitt said...

These would have caught my eye immediately, for vintage linens are a magnet to me! I can't imagine people buying electronics and (to me) useless "stuff" and bypassing these little pieces of history.

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

I jumped over here from the Daisy Cottage...and I am SO in love with your blog! I love old linens, especially hand embroidered linens! I see some beautiful pics of the Smokey mts. too! I live in the mountains of NC! I would like to put your blog on my favorite list! THANKS!

Christine said...

Hi, I love your sidebar saying, Use What your Momma Gave Ya! How Cute! Thanx for adding links to this wonderful post, I will be visiting those talented ladys to see what they came up with , using there "not so perfect", perfect vintage linens. I have so many myself, I need to get busy making some pillows for my trailer!:D

Penny from Enjoying The Simple Things said...

What wonderful vintage linens! I just found your blog by visiting Kim at Daisy Cottage. I love old farmhouses and yours is beautiful. I grew up in a small town in Michigan too. I took some time to go through some of your past posts and I see you have pictures of NC mountains. I live near Asheville NC.

I have two blogs. One featuring my mosaic art at and the other about my home, garden etc at

Come visit when you have some time!

Bella Della said...

Where have you been all my blogging life? ;) I found you via Daisy Cottage and boy have I been missing out. You are a gal after my own heart- right down to the dreams of a red mustang. I love your home and your love for vintage. I will be back to visit for sure.

Thanks for the distraction today at work!

Donna said...

My Mom gave me a bunch of old linens. I love them and buy them when I can find them...happy night sweetie!!hughugs

Chris said...

You found some great ones! I love vintage linens too. I have several from both of my grandmas, and recently started thinking about what I could do with them. I found several books on amazon like the book you have. Can't wait to see what you do with them!

Kathleen said...

Great finds, Joni..I have enjoyed browsing your blog..have no idea how I got here! :)