Thursday, May 23, 2013

Recycling Vintage Treasures

My Hubby & I have always been interested in vintage things. As young newlyweds we would often go antique shopping. We would take a picnic lunch and hit the road. We couldn't afford to buy much (if anything!) but it was cheap entertainment and we acquired ideas for the future. We especially like vintage treasures that have been passed down from family & friends. Even though we have many vintage items in our home many of these hand-me-downs languished in closets, drawers or in the attic because they didn't go with our decorating style or lifestyle. Over the years we have learned to re-purpose these things, to be able to show their beauty, the talents of a loved one or just to recall a special memory.

My Grandma McGee crocheted many a doily or table runner. They were heavily starched and placed on tables, the backs of sofas and chairs. Some had flowers, some had ruffles, all were very intricate. I have a plastic storage bin full of these doilies. I have no desire to use them on furniture like she did but I felt bad that no one was able to see their beauty. I have had some of them framed, both for me and for gifts to family members.

Doilies displayed in my dining area.

Doily I had framed and gave to my sister as a Christmas gift.
I have a few quilts that were done by my Grandmas, as well as my Great-Grandma. One quilt, in particular, was stored in a closet after I got married. Unknown to me, the closet leaked during a rain storm. During a move from that home I discovered that the quilt had mildewed. I had it professionally cleaned but it was too late to get all the damage out. I couldn't bear to part with it so it sat on a closet shelf for years. About 10 years ago my Mom started making teddy bears for her grandchildren. I thought of the old quilt and asked if she could make a teddy bear out of it. She was able to get enough pieces to make a teddy bear for me, as well as herself and my sister. This teddy bear now watches over me while I work in my craft room, a reminder of the handwork of a long-gone relative.

The yo-yo quilt was a popular style of quilt making in America during the 1920-40's. Yo-yo's, or tiny circles of fabric, were gathered up at the edges and sewn together to make a three-dimensional effect. They were popular because women could carry the little circles of fabric with them and make yo-yo's whenever they had a free moment. They didn't require much material so scraps of material, grain or flour sacks, or old clothing could be used. During the depression-era, when nothing was wasted, the scraps could be turned into something useful and decorative. My family has various yo-yo pieces made by family members. This piece was made from yo-yo's made by my great-aunt, Rhoda, in 1935 when she was bedridden during her first pregnancy. It now hangs in my hallway.

Many of us have jars or boxes of buttons from our relatives. My Mom has my Grandma's buttons (Mom, put my name on them, please!) Periodically, I will raid her stash and insert some into a cross stitched piece I've made. Or, they are beautiful thrown in a jar and displayed!

My Grandma Fannie always had hand-embroidered pillowcases on her beds. Over the years she gave me a few sets. Again, they were relegated to the closet as they didn't go with my decor or never would've lasted in my childrens' bedrooms. A few years ago I began noticing a child's dress called a pillowcase dress. You take an existing pillowcase (or make a new one), put armhole openings and a casing for the neckline and you have an instant dress. I made this dress for my daughter's baby shower in 2010. Grandma's embroidery and crochet work is wonderful.

Two years later my granddaughter was old enough to wear the dress! It's now packed away, saved for the next generation. I know Grandma would be thrilled to see how her pillowcases got recycled.

I've learned over the years to "think outside of the box" when acquiring vintage items, to look for ways to display these treasures so they can be enjoyed once more, even though it may not be in the way they were intended!

Join me at Show 'n Tell Friday!

1 comment:

  1. Beautifully written Sis :) I too cherish all my treasures handed down. Some currently displayed and some waiting to be rediscovered. Thanks for framing my Doily, I think of Grandma every time I look at it which is everyday and that couldn't make he happier :))