Use Vintage Embroidery from Vintage Tablecloths and Vintage Pillowcases in Your Sewing Projects!
Make a blouse, dress, shawl or nightgown using vintage embroidery from your vintage embroidered treasures!
I have a page on this site dedicated to all the wonderful, creative things my customers have done with the Mexican Dress pattern, but when customer Rayne W. (visit her blog, CollectingJourneys) sent me photos of her fantastic
projects, I thought it was time to create a brand new page! Just look at what Rayne has done using vintage embroidered tablecloths
and vintage embroidered pillowcases to make these pretty Mexican Peasant Blouses:
Using my Mexican Dress Instruction Booklet,
Rayne dove into her treasured store of wonderful embroidered vintage tablecloths and pillowcases and put her amazing crafting know-how to work to create
what I have to say are some of the cutest peasant tops I have ever seen. Look at the chicken one! And the little kitty! And those charming, romantic birds on
the pretty pink blouse. As Rayne's photos demonstrate, you could go about using vintage embroidered pillowcases, tablecloths, aprons and what-have-you in a number of
ways. You can cut out portions of the old tablecloths, etc. and simply applique them to the finished clothing, as it appears she's done with the pink blouse. Or,
you could photocopy or trace the patterns from the vintage pieces onto your garment pattern pieces and do the embroidery yourself. As you can see, Rayne added
pretty finishing stitches around the edges of neck and sleeves on many of her blouses and by working in the colors of the main embroidery motif, each peasant blouse
has a fine, finished look.
So many women enjoy collecting vintage tablecloths, table runners, pillowcases, sheets and other linens. If you're among these beauty-loving ladies, and your store of
vintage embroidered items is getting a little on the overwhelming side, why not consider turning some of your stash into wearable art? I can almost guarantee, you will
get compliments everywhere you go wearing something made from vintage embroidered textiles! Mass produced modern clothing seldom has the artful touches that were once
the hallmark of fashion for women and home, and it can bring a smile to people's faces to see garments that show someone took the time to create something special. Rayne
recently mentioned to me that people have been shocked that she would cut up an old tablecloth or quilt, as though such things only belong gathering dust in a museum. I think
that's a shame! Why not give those vintage pieces a new life by incorporating them into garments that get to see the light of day again? Some of the embroidery on antique and
vintage pieces is so incredibly delightful, it deserves to be seen and admired.
Where To Find Vintage Tablecloths and Linens
Here's a quick list of smart places to seek out vintage embroidered textiles and linens:
- Thrift stores
- Antique stores
- Garage sales
- Estate sales
- Relatives' houses (old attics may have treasures Auntie doesn't want anymore)
- Your attic (when was the last time you looked up there?)
- Old country stores with second-hand sections
- eBay and other auction-type sites
- Flea markets
Vintage linens are so beloved, you may even be able to find collectors' clubs online.
Using Vintage Embroidered Pieces In Your Sewing/Crafting Projects
You'll need to look with your designer's eye (every woman has one!) at the piece you are considering incorporating
into a garment. Things to look for: holes, stains that won't come out, worn or flawed sections of the embroidery. You'll
need to be able to cut up the piece so that sections in poor shape are left out if you are doing applique. If you're tracing,
these kinds of flaws don't matter.
Identify the basic structure of the vintage embroidery design. Is it a single motif, perhaps of birds, animals, children or
flowers? That can be used as a focal motif on the yoke or main fall of something like my Mexican Dress/Blouse Instruction Booklet.
A continuous design, such as those seen on the edgings of vintage table cloths or running along a table runner would be ideal for
incorporating into something like my embroidered shawl pattern.
Identify areas on the garment where areas of the vintage piece will fit appropriately. You may find it most helpful to sketch your ideas out on paper
before picking up those scissors!
When doing applique, it's going to be especially important to take background fabric and fabric color into consideration. You may choose to go for
an identical color so that both fabrics closely match. Sometimes, however, vintage linens have colored a bit with age. In such a case, you might
consider tea dyeing your garment fabric to slightly yellow it. All this involves is brewing up a kettle of water with a black tea bag in it and letting
your pre-washed fabric soak in it until its color matches the tone of the vintage fabric. Or, you can decide not to bother about matching colors and deliberately go
for contrast as Rayne has done in the pink and white peasant top, shown above. If carefully worked, the end result is really appealing!
Weight is a little trickier. If the two fabrics you are using
are not relatively closely matched in terms of their weight, they may pull against one another, throwing off the way the garment hangs. So, do take your
vintage tablecloth, pillowcase, etc. with you to the fabric store when you are buying the garment fabric to make sure you purchase a textile that is
a reasonably close match, weight-wise.
The extent of your unique creativity is really your only limit when it comes to what you can do with vintage linens. Imagine a perky apron embellished
with lively roosters, or a cool, floaty nightgown detailed with the delicate embroidery from a vintage handkerchief. You could make absolutely darling dresses
for baby, or spunky blouses and shirts for little girls and boys. How about a frilly embroidered sundress for a big girl to make her summer days happier? Or, consider making an animal
shaped pillow for an older friend who loves aromatherapy? If you're lucky, you might even find a piece with vintage Mexican embroidery, needlepoint or cross stitch on it that you could work into
an absolutely stunning new dress or top. These are just a few ideas for inspiration. I'm sure you'll think of others. All you need is a basic garment pattern, a stash of
vintage embroidered linens and the will to have a little fun!
My sincerest thanks to Rayne W. for sharing her terrific projects with us. What a treat to see!
Do you have a photo to share with me of a project using vintage embroidery and one of my pattern booklets?
I would absolutely love for you to email me
to let me know you've got photos to be added here.
Out of respect for my customers' privacy, I publish only photos of
garments - not of people, and I will not use your full name in talking
about your finished Mexican Dress project.