Now I'm not known for being overly sentimental but there is something about antique embroidered tablecloths and tray covers that makes me want to swoon! I think it's the combination of their great age and the hours and hours of work that first went into creating such gorgeous works of stitched art. I don't know how ladies in the 1940s and 1950s found the time to produce them, although the lack of television and internet might have been a contributing factor!
Vintage linens regularly turn up at car boot sales in all kinds of condition and I find that table cloths often show the most signs of wear, particularly in their centres, where crockery, cutlery and hands would have constantly rubbed against the fabric. However the edges, where the embroidery is normally to be found, is usually in far better condition having hung below the edge of the table top and therefore avoided such friction and wear.
Once the centers are full of holes they're clearly no longer suitable for covering a dining table and besides, in our house, a tablecloth would need washing and ironing after every (messy) meal!
Instead the perfect project is to stitch up some gloriously shabby chic bunting - Every upcycled garland produced is totally unique and it feels so good to breathe new life into these forgotten treasures!
If you're feeling inspired, I've written an easy to follow tutorial, with step by step photos, over at the Cuddly Buddly blog
Vintage linens are also perfect for pouches and purses. This kitsch 'Crinoline Lady' was too large for a bunting flag but she works really well on a little patchwork makeup bag.
I love the Spring colours, and they still look as fresh as the day they were first stitched.
You can read more about it here, and having watched episode three of 'The Great British Sewing Bee', I'm feeling very grateful that my sewing is done on a modern Bernina machine, although those antique Singers are so charming. Do you think Mr Larkin would approve of me buying a fifth sewing machine because 'it's pretty'?!
Another string of my upcycled vintage bunting was featured in Reloved Magazine.
The full blog post is here.
The original stitched designs on the tablecloths I used were each so different but I love both sets of finished bunting equally. I gave one set to my mum and the other is hanging in my kitchen where it reminds me of English summers full of village fetes and weddings!