Thrift fabric

Liberating Linens!

I love fabric in all its forms, especially linen. With age and use, linen becomes soft and drapes beautifully. Linen is extremely durable, it is absorbent, strong, doesn’t abrade and is stronger when it is wet. Linen or flax has been used for clothing, bedding and other household uses for many thousands of years.

Vintage linen hand towel textiles with crocheted monogram Doris lovadina-lee found in Guelph Ontario Canada

Although linen has had a resurgence in popularity, it’s been primarily in the clothing industry. It makes me sad to see beautiful linen napkins, hand towels and tablecloths in thrift shops. Some have beautiful handwork – tatting, crochet, embroidery, cutwork. Someone has lovingly and painstakingly created these precious and useful items.

detail of crocheted edge linen towel Doris lovadina-lee

So, I recently liberated a few pieces of linen from a thrift store. The bureau scarf above has a few small holes but the crocheted monogram and the detail around the entire piece is still pristine.

Doris lovadina-lee vintage bureau scarf white linen with edging
This hand towel with the beautiful deep crochet edge is in excellent condition and just needs to be pressed.

vintage hand crochet textile edges on linen tea towel dorislovadnalee.com

The tatting on the linen hand towel below has a little damage on one end. If it can’t be repaired, I will probably dip it in indigo this spring and then use it in an art project. I could also remove the damaged end, hem the towel. It is just to beautiful to toss!

tatted edge tea towel vintage find Toronto Ontario Doris lee

The hand embroidered flower garland is made of a coarser linen. I’ve washed it a couple of times to remove some stains, but they are stubborn. I will probably cut this one up for a project I have in mind.

vintage textiles tea towel with garland flowers embroidered on edge Toronto doris lovadina-lee

The puppies are also stained but too cute! This too will be cut up into a project.

hand embroidery puppy dogs on yellow tea towel Doris loading-lee

Liberated Linens

Liberating linens is not a new endeavour for me. Whenever I find napkins, towels, table runners or any other linens, I can’t help but bring them home with me. But, I can’t keep them all! 

hand dyed vintage cocktail napkins doris lovadina-lee shop online

The cocktail napkins above are dyed a beautiful purple. The set of 6 would be a fun addition to your next tea party. They are embroidered with a small flower on the corner and hemmed with a beautiful scalloped edge.

vintage napkins hand dyed shibori green repurposed doris lovadina-lee online shop

Two shibori dyed green cocktail napkins. Best with a dry martini!

for sale Thrifted textiles cotton napkins green and blue shibori handdyed by doris lovadina-lee

This set of 2 cotton table napkins in blue and spring green are just perfect for a fun luncheon with your best friend.

doris lovadina-lee online shop blue shibori set of three vintage hand-dyed damask table napkins Toronto

Three elegant napkins are shibori dyed in blue. Enjoy take out in style!

Look for these napkins in my new online shop. If you have any ideas for my newly liberated linens, let me know.

Thrift store scraps

My mom bought me a ziplock bag full of pre-cut squares of cotton from a local thrift shop for $4.00. The bag was full to bursting.

Thrift store scraps
Thrift store scraps

I pulled the squares out, counted the 1 1/2 inch squares and approximated the rest:

  • 266 – 1 1/2 inch squares
  • 220 – 2 1/2 inch squares
  • 260 – 3 inch squares
  • 200 – 4 inch squares
  • 100 – 5 inch squares

There is quite a variety of scraps: Kaffe Fassett, children’s prints, modern, calico prints, florals. They are all patterned, there are no solids.

Thrift store scraps
Thrift store scraps

I love using scraps. Quilts made from scraps have a wonderful sense of colour. They also remind me of how quilts were usually made by our ancestors.  Small pieces of clothing that were not too worn out, were repurposed into a quilt that would be used to keep the family warm.

For the moment, I will add these to my stash of scraps and ponder on what to do with them. How often do you use scraps in your quilts?

Sow’s Ear Challenge

The Toronto Modern Quilt Guild Sow’s Ear Challenge May 2014

In our May meeting of the Toronto Modern Quilt Guild, Andrea Vander Kooij issued the: Sow’s Ear Challenge! Participants were asked to make a quilted bag using thrift store textiles.

Andrea loves old quilts and vintage textiles, but she noticed “when looking at some old quilts was how much of the fabric was, well, kind of ugly.” Yet despite this the quilts have a sense of design and beauty all their own – the Gees’ Bend quilts are an example of this.

She goes on to say that we are very caught up in the newest fabric lines and buy pretty fabrics so of course we create pretty quilts. This challenge is to take fabric that isn’t so pretty and create something of beauty. By pulling fabric out of a bag sight unseen we are giving up some control of the process. Also, working around these “limitations” we as artists are challenged to stretch out of our comfort zone to create something we like. Lastly, using scraps harkens back to the origins of quilting when our ancestors used up all their precious bits of fabric to create functional and beautiful items.

The rules of the challenge are:

  • Bring three thrifted items like pillowcases, shirts, curtains, skirts – anything that is woven and has some cotton fibers in it.
  • The three items are put into a bag and each person could then pull out 3 items out (although not their own!). We were allowed one “do over” if we really didn’t like one of the fabrics we picked.
  • These three pieces along with a solid from our stash is to be pieced and quilted into a bag design of our choice.
Thrift Fabric
Thrift Store Fabric

These are the three pieces that I will be working with! Two of them are pillowcases from the 70’s – groovy! The small blue print is my third selection! I did my one “do over” twice! I was resigned to a burgundy floral scrap as my final selection when Emily asked if I was interested in trading it. YES! Thanks Emily.

Thrift floral fabric
Vintage Floral Pillowcase

OMG! As I was poking around I came across a new line of fabric by Jeni Baker for Art Gallery Fabrics called Dreamin’ Vintage. This collection includes the Lazy Daisy print that is similar to the vintage pillow case above. The adage is true – everything old is new again!

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