The Tale of the Vintage Fabric Find

My friend told me the other day that she was having a tag sale at her home. Her marriage of almost 30 years had ended, the big house had been sold, and she was moving on to single life in a tiny apartment. Happily, I might add.

Many generations contributed
to my vintage fabric treasure.

I went to her home prepared for a few items set out in the driveway, but what I found was an entire lifetime of objects for sale. She had exquisite taste, but not enough room, physically or emotionally, for what she had accumulated in her past life.

As I walked in the front door, I couldn't determine where my feet should go first. Gorgeous furnishings and antiques, blue-and-white china, and much more beckoned. But my eyes quickly fell upon two plastic bins in the corner of the living room, where I saw stack upon stack of decades-old vintage linens. 

I sat there in that corner for almost an hour, patiently sifting through generations of monogrammed napkins and hand towels; delicately hand-stitched and embroidered placemats, runners, and coasters; everyday linens with vintage prints-whimsical strawberries, happy yellow roses. Each item was carefully pressed and preserved. I was utterly absorbed by the story they told.

I love to create items with vintage fabrics, especially scatter pillows. A pillow is the perfect canvas for a retro print handkerchief or embroidered linen. With each piece of dozens that I held in my hand, I could envision how lovely it would look as the pretty face of a small pillow.

I have enough vintage linens now to fuel these dreams for years to come, but I think that I will take a precious piece or two to make a pillow just the right size for a small apartment where a dear friend is beginning a new and exciting journey.

For plenty more pillow projects that use your favorite fabrics, check out the Ultimate Patchwork Collection Kit in the Sew Daily Shop.

Do you collect vintage fabrics? What do you do with them? Do you know any of their stories? I would love to know.

Happy stitching. 




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Sewing With Difficult Fabrics

About Amber

Amber Eden is the editor of Stitch and She LOVES sewing and editing Stitch and She also loves dance, yoga, iced decaf triple espressos, and her two golden retrievers. She divides her time between Boston and New York.

8 thoughts on “The Tale of the Vintage Fabric Find

  1. Like you, I love vintage fabrics. I am a knitter, though I have purchased a sewing machine with the intention of making pillows just as you suggest. Reading your story, has given me the idea to take some of the dish towels I have collected and turn them into drawstring bags that I can use as gift bags for the scaves a slippers I will knit for my family and friends for Christmas. Draw string bags, a good first project I can manage and a great excuse to explore the shops and find some vintage red and green and silver and gold dish cloths and tea towels!

  2. I have lovingly collected vintage linens for many years…but each time I try to cut them up to make something new I just can’t do it. So I just go through them every now and then and enjoy! Maybe the next person who owns them will be able to
    repurpose them….Not me!!

  3. I have collected old linens for some time also. It all started with a pile of beautiful linen napkins and some dresser scarves from my grandmother. I also loved the beautiful crocheted doilies that I would find at antique stores and the local Hospital Street Fair. I first used the smaller linen and crochet pieces as center pieces for my fabric wall hangings. I have also dyed some of the linen napkins, sewed them together, embellished with pretty trims and buttons and used them as a winter scarf!!

  4. I just inherited my grandmother’s beautiful linens, some cotton with lace and others are 100% linen damask weave. I would love to make some of these pieces into apparel but need some inspiration. Any suggestions where to find some ideas?

  5. Hello, Amber ~
    Oh, my! Ladies after my own heart! First, how kind and loving of you to provide your friend with a pillow from her Vintage Linens! While I have few Vintage “fabrics” per se, I do have a plethora of Vintage Linens! My Mother’s and Grandmother’s Damask Linen tablecloths/napkins aplenty, embroidered tea towels/pillow cases/pot holders/aprons from my Great Aunt/Grandmother (& her crocheted edgings), embroidered guest hand towels, one small Crazy Quilt made by my Paternal Grandmother & her Tatting, and Vintage hankies galore! I plan to make a bed coverlet from the Vintage hankies. Plus, I collect from antiques stores/flea markets! I’m reserving the Vintage tablecloths for jackets/long skirts for myself! I’ll also save some for their original purpose! I’m 66, so you know the above items are “old”! 😉 Thank you for your story. Janet HANDWORK {My actual Maiden Name which I must honor with the same!}