Last winter my friend Kitty and I used to walk every Sunday. We live in a beautiful, tree-lined neighborhood and strolling along, commenting on this house or that, provided us endless entertainment.
As we approached a particularly well kept house one day, I noticed a complete table and chair set in the driveway–marked as a giveaway. While the chair seat pads were dated and worn, the table and chairs were in beautiful condition. The wood gleamed, the legs curved sweetly, and it was clear that this was a handmade set that had been much loved over the years. As if to put a point on that love, each chair had a set of hearts carved out of its back.
A light rain was starting to fall, and I panicked that it would shortly be ruined. I could not understand why someone would put such a lovely set, clearly a kind of family heirloom, out in the rain, but I could see that the sparkling and modern home had no place for sentimental pieces.
We practically ran home to get my car and drove back, hoping fervently that they would still be there. I needed just such a set for my place in Boston. And I had the perfect fabric to cover those worn seats. Some time back, my mother had given me several rolls of decorator fabric and one of them was delightful seashell pink inscribed with French seaside words.
My husband just rolled his eyes as we pulled into the driveway, but he helped unload the chairs and table and immediately set to work helping me to recover the seats. It turned out that he was quite handy with the staple gun and in no time, the chair pads were every bit as pretty as the rest of the set.
These days the set sits in the Stitch offices, known as "The Sewing Café", and it's always available for an impromptu tête a tête. I still wonder about the history of the set, but I am so glad that just a little imagination and some pretty fabric gave it a second life.
There are many kinds of heirlooms worth saving and making. To create some beautiful future heirlooms of your own (in the form of sweetly smocked and embroidered little girls' dresses), check out Sew Beautiful magazine.
Do you have a family heirloom that you gave new life? I would love to hear about it!