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Vintage Fabrics and Projects for use

twosprings | Posted in General Discussion on

can anyone, anywhere, share ideas for using vintage fabrics.???


  1. Jean | | #1

    A little more detail would help. Is it polyester, wool, brocade,venetian lace or flour sacking? Right offhand my mind goes to wall hangings, quilts, that sort of thing.

    1. twosprings | | #2

      duh????? s'cuse the "Mature Moment". i have some old drapery fabric from the 50's and 60's. not sure of fabric content. several yards of old silk. cotton prints from the 50's. a very few from the forties, cotton and silk. some of the prints include Paris street scenes, ticking with flowers, stripes and plaids. does this help so you can help me.....i do not want to just pack this away(with the other "some day projects") thanks jean,


      1. kai230 | | #3

        Paris street scenes would look good framed, or hung on a rod w/a weighted something on the bottom, anywhere you want to increase the perception of depth. They'd also look good on a folding screen. I think you have to consider placement and wear, and know they may be susceptible to sun and moisture, plus dust, so how well they hold up to wear/cleaning is important.

        Ticking could be used to make slipcovers for casual chairs (I'm thinking a deck/captain's chair, or a folding one) or make pillows, or line drawers, or make a bread holder (sorry, it will take quite a while for me to locate this, but maybe Jean can--you know, the one MadMom makes?) For plaids, consider covering a pic frame.

        Tell us more re the cotton and silk from the 40's and 50's and how heavy they are. Diaphanous silk could make a dreamy ceiling treatment over a bed or framing a window. If the silk is shantung, that would look good as matting for a pic or also on a folding screen.

        If any of the cotton suits your decor, make napkins, placemats, or a table runner.

        You can also use these fabrics to wrap gifts.

        I still recall my fave skirt Mom had--black cotton, flared, w/red flowers and white and green accents. Very 40's. I'll have to see if perchance she held on to it, she keeps everything else it seems. 

        Edited 7/25/2003 7:54:21 PM ET by kai

        1. twosprings | | #6

          oh,my....you have so many ideas. i found this site after retiring and am just amazed at the magical thoughts available. some of the silk is heavy like a cotton with an interwoven slub. i may have enough for an outfit, but must work with stains and fold lines from who knows when.

          thank you, kai


          1. kai230 | | #7

            Congrats on retirement! The folks at all the Taunton boards are of above, way above, average intelligence and creativity I have found :-) We appreciate the "Fine" in the publication titles; truth in advertising, ya know :-)

            The silk w/slub could be a nice waist-length, fitted tapered jacket, peplum optional, or even a straight, loose-fitting hip/thigh-length coat. Add a few inserts of a compatible but contrasting color/texture--e.g., a lighter color on the shoulder edges to help make the shoulder line look straight, or a darker color to deemphasize the waist and add a belt effect.

            Some of these might also look good as lampshades. Gather the fabric w/elastic or drawstring at top and bottom and you can remove it to wash. Make it extra large to manipulate the fabric into allowing more or less light, like stripes or zones. Probably a good idea to check into fire-retardant sprays, too. (I've used baskets as shades forevah, but I sit and watch, smell, feel, etc. If it gets hot, it is out.)

            On the slub issue, I actually tried to wallpaper my hall w/a slubby paper. You'd think I'd have learned having kitchen grasscloth torn to shreds by my cat. Nubby collects dust. If you want to use it on a wall, I'd try washing some, treating some w/fabric guard, etc.

            Given that if you use all the fabrics, and I do think you should use them, they will eventually wear out. I love Jean's idea of a quilt of each of your faves. Frame behind glass, using some of the fabric for matting, w/optional explanations behind the history of the fabric, much as a museum exhibit. Preferably, in your handwriting. 

            I hope you can post some pics. Color or texture is often another trigger for ideas. Like Jean said, slide a pizza under the door!

      2. Jean | | #4

        Depending on your yardage, you could make quilted things, household items like placemats and napkins, decorator pillows, baby things, toys, etc. I have a series of books by Sandra Lounsbury Foose filled with ideas of how to use leftover fabrics. I suggest you go to your local library and see what they have. If you are lucky enough to have a library that is part of a group, they can get it for you even if it's not on their shelves. For the silKs- scarves come to mind.

        Whatever you do, have fun with it. I wouldn't mind being locked in my sewing/knitting room with no other responsibilities for a month or two myself. My ideal vacation. Just shove the pizzas under the door and leave me alone. ;-)

        1. twosprings | | #5

          i will check with the local library. we are newly retired and i am overwhelmed with going through years of fabric saved for just this time in my life. these suggestions will help narrow my focus. thank you. happy sewing.


  2. marijke | | #8

    Have you looked at the book Sew Vintage? The woman who write it also had an article in Threads about using vintage textiles in home decor. I really enjoyed reading that book, it has great pictures and should be an inspiration.


    1. sarahkayla | | #9

      The most important thing is to use it. I made a jacket for myself out of a couple pf tea towels and a handfull of doileys. You can make baby clothing for babies you love ( i just made a baby an outfit made of two dinner napkins)

      It is fabric  - are there people in your life who loved the original owners of the fabric?? make them something.. a pillow, a pair of pj's, funky pants, a book cover a scarf, a jacket, a bed quilt... it is just yardage.. If the fabric doesn't shred it will be useable.

      just have fun with it

      sarah in nyc

      1. twosprings | | #10

        oh, you are so right! i neglect beginning certain projects for fear i will do something "wrong", knowing i have worn AND enjoyed many mistakes.

      2. rjf | | #12

        "If the fabric doesn't shred it will be useable."

        Ho-ho-ho!  A few years ago I was costuming "Man of La Mancha" on a public school budget and found some old drapes in the attic.  Just right for peasant trousers!  Unfortunately, "sun rot" was not in my vocabulary and every time those peasants sat down, r-r-r-rippp!  Good thing we had a dress rehersal.       rjf

        1. marijke | | #13

          That's sooo funny!!!!

          Perhaps the kids wearing the costumes weren't laughing, though.


          1. kai230 | | #14

            Finally someone found the link to the "bread thingy" 12936.31

          2. twosprings | | #15

            do you have a pic of the bread "thingy"? my husband is the bread baker here.

          3. kai230 | | #16

            In the link I posted, at the end (of that first post) is an attachment. Is it not showing up for you? Right click and select Open in New Window. Let me know if this doesn't work.

          4. twosprings | | #17

            gotcha. now where do i get the dimensions and instructions? did i overlook that, also?????

          5. kai230 | | #18

            No, I don't think she gave dimensions. Maybe you could pop over there and inquire? I think it wouldn't matter much if you allow for 18"-long loaves. Maybe try a pattern using cheesecloth? I'm guessing a yard or 1-1/2 yards, depending on how deep/wide you make each sling.

          6. MadMom | | #19

            Hi, kai gave me this link.  I'm the idiot who set fire to her bread thingy by turning on the wrong oven to preheat, then proceeded to make several more of them.  They really are fun to make, and I've shared them with quite a few friends who like to bake bread.  You'll need two metal dowels (mine are 18" long, simply because I bought a 36" dowel and cut it in half.)  You also need four wooden dowels.  I cut mine about 19" long.  All of the dowels should be about 1/4" in diameter.  You'll also need four "legs" - mine are about 4 1/2" long, and they're cut from dowels that are thicker...either 3/8" or 5/16" in diameter.  Finally (for the wood) you need two strips...the dimensions aren't all that critical.  Mine are about 3/4" wide and 1/2" thick, but you could use a 1" x 2" or whatever you have.  Mine are 11 3/4" long, but again, the length isn't absolutely critical.  Drill four holes for the legs about halfway through the end strips, about 1" to 1 1/2" in from the ends of the end strips.  About 1/2" in from the ends, on the side of the end strips, drill holes for the metal dowels, again about halfway through the end strips.  (I know this sounds complicated, but I'm going to add a picture, so maybe it will make sense.)  The metal dowels will hold the sides of the bread riser.  The wooden dowels will be used to divide it into two, three, or four places in which you place the dough.  To do this, you should next drill a hole in the middle of one of the end strips.  Drill completely through one end strip and halfway through the opposite one.  (This allows you to insert the wooden dowels at varying positions.)  Drill two more holes, placing them on each side, halfway between the end holes and the middle holes.  (These will be used, along with the middle hole, when you want to divide the thingy into four slots.)  Finally, drill the last two holes one third of the way from each end, so you can use them when you want to divide the thingy into three slots.  All of these holes should be drilled completely through one side and halfway through the opposite side. 

            Now, for the part that you're probably interested in...the canvas "sling."  I think I made four of these from a yard of material.  Get a nice canvas...heavy, but it should be soft enough to bend nicely.  Cut a piece about 18" tall and 24" wide.  Turn the top and bottom under a little bit, then under again about 1/2" to make a nice edge, and sew.  Turn the sides in a little bit, then under again about 1" on each side to make a pocket for the metal rods.  For pockets for the wooden rods, I used 1" webbing, but you could use whatever you have on hand that is sturdy enough to hold the rods.  Sew one pocket in the middle of the canvas sling.  I didn't make the pockets go completely from side to side, as it wasn't necessary...just made the middle one and the next two about 10" long and the remaining two 12" long, just to differentiate between them.  Sew two more pockets one half of the distance from the middle pocket to the side, one on each side.  Finally, sew the two pockets to be used if you want to divide the thingy into three "spaces"...place each of them 1/3 of the way in from the outside.  I hope this makes at least a little bit of sense.  I'll attach a picture, which might help you visualize the whole mess.  If you have any questions, please click on my name and email me...I'll be happy to answer.

          7. twosprings | | #20

            bless your heart. thank you so much. kai's message came at the same time my husband was baking bread. he has always wanted to learn "it all". now, he wants your recipe for the french bread......are we too much, or what?

            we will be attempting the bread thingy and will let you know how it turns out.

            this is just the most delightful resource of info......YEA TAUNTON PRESS !!!!

      3. betsy | | #21

        Sarahkayla, your tea-towel-doiley jacket sounds great! Could you post a picture so that we could see it? I have some beautiful old embroidered tea-towels and many pillow ideas, but I'd love to wear them. Thanks! Betsy

    2. twosprings | | #11

      i will locate the book. thank you for the info. is this the greatest site or what!!!

      i am amazed each day....boy, what i missed working!!

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