Category Archives: antique textiles

Bonnet, Monograms and Chicken Soup

What does this baby bonnet

have in common with chicken soup? Continue reading

Tea Time Linens, Bertha, and Elf Fun

Scroll down for Elf fun.

one of a set of six hand embroidered mats

It’s a smile a minute around here with all of the Christmas activities.  Of course, most of the festivities focus on our grandchildren.  On a recent visit, 8 year old Laurel pointed out that we hadn’t had tea for sometime,  so how about now?

Laurel and Robert who are not discussing politics, religion or their health

Tea time is a good opportunity to use some of the pretty antique tea linens I have accumulated. Continue reading

Pink Antique Lace Daygown

ant pink lace daygown all2


I love antique laces.  I love the extra detail in the pattern, the unusual colors, the history of previous owners and previous uses about which I speculate while I am sewing.

I love this daygown.  I love the materials, the techniques, the details that I so enjoyed adding and the daydreams I entertained while fantasizing about grandchildren in my future.  Can you tell I love heirloom sewing?

Yet again, this is not a modern project for an old fashioned Nana.  I needed grandchildren before I realized the importance of easy care.

Through the years, I have sniffed out some incredible finds.  This lace was one of them.  At the end of this post, I will tell you about how I became the final owner of this unused, antique lace. Continue reading

Exquisitely Detailed Vintage Baby Dress

circa 1940 organdy baby dress

circa 1940 organdy baby dress


The bassinette skirt I’ve been working on is coming along, but it surely takes a lot of time to arrange the designs.  So while I continue working on that,  I thought you might enjoy looking at this sweet baby dress which has so many exquisite details.  It was given to me by a friend but she knew nothing about its history or origin.

The fabric seems to be a soft organdy, if there is such a thing.  It may just be that it’s old and has lost some–but not all–of its crispness.  Labeled Tiny Tots Originals  hand made Philippines, every stitch is done by hand.  I googled Tiny Tots and could only find references to a company by that name in the garment district of New York City.

The search also turned up other Tiny Tots Original garments for sale on etsy or eBay.  The information is not corroborated, but those garments were dated 1940-1960, though every vendor seemed to be giving it their best guess.

But my-oh-my the details! Continue reading

Copper Lace Collar

The redecorating of the grandchildren’s bedroom at Nana’s house is coming along. But I don’t want to break stride and thought you might enjoy reading this re-run post. Soon, I will have a new post about the projects for the children’s room. Meanwhile, let me know what you are stitching.

I love colored antique laces. Today, imported laces are rarely available in a color other than white, ecru or ivory. But vintage and antique laces came in a variety of hues and have always appealed to me. Much as I love adding unique pieces to my collection, I am loathe to use one unless the project seems worthy of the sacrifice.


When I found this short length of copper colored lace, I knew its use would be limited. The Star of David ground identifies it as a Binche lace, the lovely pattern outlined with a cordonnet thread. Continue reading

My Estate Sale Treasures

33" luncheon cloth in tiny cross stitch

Oh, my! This estate sale was more fun than when the circus comes to town.  Actually, I’m not a fan of circuses, but you know what I mean.  Being in that house was like stepping into a 1925 time capsule and bringing whatever I wanted back home to 2012!   And I wanted a lot…..  But for budgetary limitations, I’d have just bought the farm.

The set has 4 matching napkins.

Several of my friends wanted in on the fun, so we made it a girlfriend field  trip.   We caravaned into the quiet neighborhood, each shopper in her own vehicle, so that we had plenty of cargo space to carry home our booty.

I had been to the house earlier in the week to help  evaluate the textiles for my friend who was running the sale.  I should have left a trail of bread crumbs. Continue reading

Using Vintage Hankies

UPDATE: Take a look at the fabulous quilt Lynn made for her mother. She left this comment:    I also love vintage hankies. My mother had several that had been gifts from friends and penpals when she was young. She gave then to me and I “regifted” some of them back to her in a quilt. I used some designs from Embroidery Library and sent them a few photos of the completed project. They put them up on the website and here’s the link.


Estate hanky 2M


I love pretty handkerchiefs.  I love the exquisite needlework, the elaborate designs, and the options they offer for re-purposing.  They can be used in so many ways–vintage handkerchiefs are like money in the bank.  But you don’t have to break the bank to get them.  Each of  these cost $1!


Estate hanky 1emb 1madap

Of course, there is the original purpose for these beauties.  Aside from the one set aside for my own personal use, I find it is handy to always have a clean one in my purse for others.

Continue reading

Heirloom Cutwork Tablecloth Dress



This is an amazing dress, an example of what I would call heirloom recycling.  Whoever made this dress embraced the “green” philosophy–or simply needed a white dress and had a pretty tablecloth.  Whatever.




On a yard sale/church bazaar Saturday outing,  a mother/daughter duo came across this dress.  Well aware of my penchant for antique textiles,  the shopping duo decided then and there to gift it to me.   What wonderful friends!  And, of course, I was delighted.



front bodice motif


Remarkable for a number of reasons, the dress is made from a beautifully stitched fine linen tablecloth.  It was not immediately obvious that the cutwork, surface embroidery and needle lace inserts were not embellishments meant for a special gown.





My first clue that this was a tablecloth was when I discovered the embroidery at the neckline, under the bodice overlay.  Hmmmmmmm….no reason to embroider there.





It is pieced together so artfully that the placement of the designs and the needle lace seem well planned for a dress.  The skirt was cut so that the cutwork lines up at the side seams.  The unusual sleeve style incorporates a corner of the cloth.

At the upcoming mother-daughter church luncheon, a display of vintage wedding gowns and dresses will be featured.  So I pulled out the dress and proceeded to launder it.  That’s when I discovered the embroidery at the neckline and the non-standard skirt attachment.




Close examination convinced me that the cutwork and embroidery were done by someone other than the seamstress who constructed this garment.  There is a noticeable disparity between the workmanship of the handwork and the construction.

This is most noticeable with lace attachment.  It is simply straight stitched onto what appears to be a machine rolled and whipped edge at the hem and sleeve edges.




However, on  the front and back yoke overlays, which are lined, it is very nicely hand stitched.



The color has been edited to show stitches joining lace to overlay.


It seems to me that the short opening at the center back would make it very difficult to put the dress on.  But it’s likely that the seamstress/designer didn’t want break the horizontal line of the lace on the overlay.

Of course, I wonder for what special occasion was the dress made?  It could have been a confirmation or graduation dress.  It even could have been a wedding dress.  Whatever.

Scarlet O’Hara would have found this a welcome, comfortable change from her velvet drapery dress.

Antique Lace Galloons

Sometimes, it seems that all my posts overlap.  This is one of those times.

When I blogged about the shadow smocked Easter dress for my granddaughter, I mentioned that I would tell you about the lace I used.  And I will.

As I was gathering my thoughts, it occurred to me that the most interesting thing about the lace is the use of the galloon as insertion.  So I want to tell you about that and other galloons I have used for both insertion and edging.


galoon FI

French Val galloon, with two decorative edges, 1-3/4″ wide



The antique lace I used for my granddaughter’s Easter dress was purchased at a veritable once-in-a-lifetime estate sale where I still sometimes shop when I am in Dreamland.  The creamy French Val lace is a beautiful ivory color, achieved by age rather than dye. Two  bolts of a classic pattern available yet today came home with me.


French Val edging, 1-1/4" wide

French Val edging, 1-1/4″ wide


I found the intricacy of  the pattern in combination with the gentle color to be very pleasing.  But I needed insertion for the skirt.

If you look carefully at the scalloped edges on the galloon, you will see how easily it converted to an insertion.  Without the perfectly straight lines of traditional insertion, the galloon requires a little more care when it is stitched to the flat skirt fabric.  But it certainly passed.   The soft curve of the scallops make this do-able. More dramatically curved edges would have been a major challenge.

galloon used as insertion

galloon used as insertion



I’ve used galloons in other garments.

Continue reading

Embroidered Antique Buttons

I was so pleased with the finished look of the buttons on my granddaughter’s shadow smocked Easter dress.  It was a stroke of luck that they surfaced  as I pillaged through my bag of pearl buttons.  I had forgotten all about them.

Purchased many years ago at an antique mall with an extensive needlework/notions booth, I had no plan for these interesting buttons.  There is no shank, just threads wrapped from side to side, as if the fibers were stitched over a ring.  But the ivory color seemed to work for this dress with the ivory lace, entredeux and featherstitching. Continue reading