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My Fabrics

I LOVE vintage fabrics, linens, quilts, and textiles.  I love their softness, their worn faded colors, the fine embroidery and lace from days gone by.  I have enormous respect and admiration for the women who created these works of art.

I spend happy weekend hours shopping flea markets, thrift stores and vintage shops for nice pieces of these textiles which are attractive to me, and in good enough shape to be used in my handbags and doll clothes.  I wash everything either in the machine or by hand and hang them on the line in the sun to dry.  These are hand and dish towels, tablecloths, doilies and antimacassars from the 1880s all the way up to the 1970s.  I look at each piece and decide if I can use the whole thing, or if it needs to be cut down.  Those that are too worn or have stains that can’t be removed are cut to make appliques, or I take the lace to add to a pocket or a doll dress.  The shape of the individual linens determine the shape and size of the purse.  Some are big and soft, others small and round, or rectangular and stiffened to make a sharp little clutch.  I choose an appropriate lining fabric and pick through my vintage buttons and jewelry to add the finishing touches: a piece of lace on a pocket, a sparkling rhinestone pin on the front.

I am endlessly engaged and happy in every step of this process.  As I sew, I think about the woman who spent long hours putting the tiny stitches onto the fine linen or cotton or silk and I think how amazed and possibly shocked she would be if she could see her dish towel being carried around town as a purse!  And it makes me happy knowing that these beautiful items are being used and loved in their second life.

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