When I first moved into my house on Long Island, I wasn’t into sewing curtains, which is very odd for me. I love making curtains. Like paint, they are something that can change the look of a home quickly and inexpensively. But we had renovated a ranch home that was born the same year that I was (1961! A very good year!), and I was into its Frank Lloyd Wright lines and curved walls, and minimalism was the look I aspired to .
This is the chandelier that started it all.
My simple paper shades and bay window.
This heavy silk is perfect for opulent drapes.
I spent hours researching just the blinds that would work with the hanging mid-century-style paper chandelier that I had bought at the Noguchi Museum in Astoria. I settled on simple white rice-paper accordion shades. And since the rest of my furnishings are an eclectic mix of family antiques and Ethan Allen, the shades and chandelier were a subtle nod to my home’s lineage. It all worked, and I was happy.
Fast-forward six years, and in that span, I inherited the most unbelievable faded-salmon silk king-size bedding and curtains. These were custom made with cotton lining-the real couture deal. The dozens of yards of fabrics were mostly in good condition, save a water stain or two and a frayed duvet corner where an errant puppy had done his teething.
There was just enough damage to prevent its use as bedding, and my mind turned to draping my windows in this fantastic fabric. I have a bay window in my living room that would gracefully accommodate vast swathes of curtains.
This fabric has a story. When my mother was younger than I am, she purchased the linens for a princely sum at the time (a sum that would be a fraction of the cost today). She converted the three bedrooms of me and my sisters into one large guest room outfitted with a glorious pink marble bath and gold-toned fixtures. It was the height of opulence to stay there, and although that room has been long dismantled, it lives on vibrantly in my mind, as if I could almost walk back into it and slide between the cool sheets, and languish beneath the heavy silk duvet. I love the idea of preserving this fabric and memory by giving it another use.
For more great bedding projects, including a lovely log cabin silk curtain and delightful linen shade, check out my new book Best of Stitch: Beautiful Bedrooms, in the Sew Daily Shop. Maybe it will inspire you to preserve some textile piece of your own past.
Have you saved family linens or bought them at estate sales, with plans for reuse? What are your plans for them? I would love to know.