I recently discovered the best source with one-of-a-kind fabric... (drumroll please) the linen section of my local thrift store! I originally ventured into the Goodwill in search of a Pyrex bowl, and while there was no Pyrex to be found, I did see a sheet from across the way that caught my eye. I grabbed it, then I saw another one. Then a little ways down the rack there was a beautiful Vera pillowcase. Then anther vintage pillowcase. Before I knew it, I had a mound of gorgeaous, totally unique fabric in my arms and about a million ideas for their use in my mind. I am now completely smitten with the notion of using vintage bed linens as fabric for my projects. The best part about the find is that I took home yards upon yards upon yards great material for only $13.99 total!
Vintage sheets are so lovely. If you don't believe me, look at this and this. And check out this group of projects made entirely of vintage pillowcases in response to this contest. Wow, the potential for vintage linens is intense.
I love the idea of using vintage linens for my projects. The colors and patterns are so unique, and most importantly the fabric is so soft, so broken in, and so... vintage! I have heard warnings not to do use vintage fabric for fear that the fabric may already be quite worn and/or may have been cheap quality to begin with. However it just seems that there are too many beautiful vintage pieces begging to get re-used and recycled into something new to NOT to use them. My solution to the problem was to wash each found item in hot water with an Oxiclean soak, and I dried everything on high heat. I also give the pieces a once over and hold everything up to the light to look for any holes, thin bits or weak spots before using. I theorize that if the material can handle a hot-water wash without disintegrating, it ought to be strong enough to make a good sewn item. Plus, I know not to use this vintage material on a labor intensive one-of-a-kind project. I will save my Liberty stash for that.
There is something so appealing about repurposing vintage items. I love the idea of taking something that is old and making it new again. And when the something old happens to be vintage linens, it is extra special, because the feeling of soft, gently used linens is so spectacular, and so comforting. When you work with a vintage pillowcase you can tell it has been washed more times than I can imagine. It may have spent time flapping in the breeze and sunshine on a clothesline to dry. And the thing that makes vintage pillowcases extra special is that they are an intimate item that was personal to another person unknown to me. This means that in reusing them, I feel sort of like I am giving life to their history. Who knows how many sweet dreamers drifted off on these pillowcases? How many loving mothers kissed their babies goodnight with the pillowcase as a backdrop? How many happy couples bid their loved one "sweet dreams" and "don't let the bedbugs bite" to their spouse before rolling over and pulling up these vintage covers? How many forts were built in living rooms under these vintage sheets, and how many of these pillowcase made trips to sleepovers and overnight camp? I may never know the stories behind the sheets, but their well worn feel keeps my imagination vivid.
I am working on a secret project right now using many of these vintage linens, but I am not ready to debut the project until it is finished. However here is a sneak peak at some of the fabric. Don't let me catch you in my San Antonio thrift store linen sections though, because I am addicted to the vintage textiles now, and I just can't get enough of them!