Have you ever bought something just because you had to have it, even though you had no idea what you would ever do with it? I’m pretty sure most of you have.
About 20 years ago, a vendor at a doll show had an elaborate display of antique textiles. Among her wares was a bassinet skirt, cut in half. In her opinion, bassinets were no longer in use so she cut it in half to make the price more reasonable. I thought it was far more likely that one doting grandmother would pay a good price for a breathtaking skirt than it was for two creative sewists to pay a little less for a chopped up bassinet skirt. But maybe she was right—I was one one of those “sewists” (I really don’t like that word, but it beats sewer) and she had already sold the other half to another like minded lady.
Maybe I was on a rescue mission, but I knew it was mine and it came home with me. And then it rested in a drawer for all those years.
When I began to decorate “Nana’s nursery, ” in anticipation of visiting grandbabies, I knew that the time had come to pull that butchered bassinet skirt out of the drawer. To make a sweet valance, it only needed blue ribbon to go through the delicate lace beading and a casing, stitched ever so carefully on the back. Then I decided to add a Swiss edging to the top. That edging and the ribbon are the only components that are not original.
This must have been an extraordinarily beautiful baby basket. The lace beading at the top of the skirt is just luscious. The skirt consists of an elaborate Swiss embroidery with lilies and lace insertion flip flopped in a geometric pattern above the scalloped edge.
Peeking out from beneath the Swiss embroidery is an underskirt with a gathered ruffle, edged with three rows of lace.
The nursery window faces south and looks over the tin roof of our back porch. So there is a lot of light and glare. Personally, I prefer light to dark, even in the early morning, so I made a shade of regular blue gingham that only blocks the glare. It is enough to allow a baby to nap without making the room dark.
At the bottom of the shade is another piece of antique Swiss embroidery, which also spent years awaiting its moment in the sun. At the very time that I was working on the nursery, Farmhouse Fabrics offered some vintage ribbon with bluebirds. It is perfect for covering the seam between the gingham and the Swiss embroidered edge.
I’m so happy to have found a meaningful use for that rescued bassinet skirt. In retrospect, even if the skirt had been in tact, I doubt I could have cut it in half to make the valance. Considering that our grandbabies were so large that they only spent 8-10 weeks in a bassinet, I would have had a very short time to enjoy such a lovely piece. But I have enjoyed the half-skirt valance daily now for almost 6 years, with more to come. What could be more special for a nursery window?
Please tell me if you have used a long-idle special treasure in one of your projects.
P.S. I chose to use this valance as the background wallpaper for this blog. Who knew this wacked up antique textile would have so much exposure?