When I go into an antique store, the trinkets and china and tchatchke’s are not what catch my eye. In every antique store I have ever gone in, I am looking for one thing, and one thing only- old linens. Pillowcases, tablecloths, napkins, hankies, dresser or piano scarves… any and all aging textiles.
There is just something about the fine, fine texture of old cotton, or of linen pressed with starch and edged in cotton crochet. This love affair started early for me- my pillowcases growing up were always crochet edged and embroidered, and usually old hand-me-downs. I loved having birds nesting, embroidered by aging hands, French knots tied with love, and trimmed out in delicate cotton crochet. Just loved them.
So now, almost all of our pillow cases are ones I have furrowed out at church tag sales, antique shops, rummage sales and neighborhood estate sales.( It kinda bugs my husband- not that he sleeps on old-lady pillowcases, but that every one of them is “old”. He’s more of a “new” guy…) But, as old things tend to do, every once in a while, I loose one of my beauties. They wear out, the cotton thins, and the seams tear. (This isn’t such a problem for the aprons, tablecloths, napkins and dresser scarves, but they all get far less use than my pillowcases)
So when one of my lovlies is retired, I have stashed them away in my fabric shelves, not sure what to do with them. The seams are worn out, but the embroidery is often still perfect; I cannot bear to toss them. And recently I had an epiphany….
There is one old case in particular I especially love- it is torn near the top, but the edge is scalloped in a lovely pattern, and monogramed with a beautiful “M” – very shabby chic. Sitting in my sewing room, contemplating what I could make out of it for Abby- thinking of maybe a smaller pillow or something, when it dawned on me that there is plenty of fabric in a pillowcase to make little girl dresses!
And what dresses they would be! Edged, fine old cotton, beautiful embroidery around the bottom of the starched twirly little skirts, maybe a pinafore if there wasn’t enough fabric for a full dress… oh how darling and totally beautiful they would be!!!
So, my old linens are going to have new life. And I’m tickled pink at my own engenuity, and with being able to finally give a home and use to old things I really value. I’ll have to let you know how it goes.