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Sew Charming Tops from Vintage Embroidered Linens

Showcase existing embellishments in romantic designs
Threads #225, Spring 2024

Many of us possess beautiful old home linens stitched long ago, made by beloved family members or even by relatives we never knew. These textiles are precious to us for sentimental reasons.

For some, handling these lovely examples of needlework allows us to appreciate the patience, time, and skill that our women put into embellishing their everyday items.

These pieces, while beautiful, may not be as useful today, as home fashions have changed. We no longer put lacy antimacassars on our chairs or sofa or embroidered scarves on our dressers; nor do we use cutwork tablecloths and napkins regularly. Our casual lifestyles do not support the careful laundering, starching, and pressing of fancy linens. So what are we supposed to do with them?

Repurpose with respect

Creating a romantic blouse with vintage linens is one possibility. I believe it’s better to bring family heirlooms out from the back of the linen closet and share their beauty with the world than to let them deteriorate under some old beach towels.

woman modeling blouse flourishing with embroidery flower design
What’s old is new: A pillowcase’s hand embroidery becomes the heart of a one-of-a-kind blouse. Photo: Jack Deutsch. Pattern: author’s design (ThreadsMagazine.com). Fabric: vintage pillowcase, quilting cotton prints, author’s stash. Stylist: Jessica Saal; Hair and makeup: AgataHelena.com. Styling credits: earrings—Melrose Market (NordstromRack.com), bracelets—stylist’s own. Jeans—FreePeople.com.

If the thought of this makes you want to lie down in a darkened room, consider this: Use only linens with stains or holes and cut around them. It is more calming, as repurposing damaged items feels like more a rescue mission than blasphemy.

Highlight the fine adornment

In recent seasons, embellished and embroidered garments, colorful prints, cottagecore, feminine touches, full sleeves, and fitted bodices have been part of the style conversation.


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  1. user-7164360 | | #1

    So happy to read this article...wish there were more on this topic!

  2. Bmore_Jen26 | | #2

    I’m having trouble locating the pattern in the Etsy shop. I only see knitted garment patterns. Can someone advise? I’m excited to try this project!

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