Friday, May 31, 2013

Vintage Linens at the Window

Lately I just can't get enough of my latest passion – combining vintage textiles into sassy window valances. The more I make . . . the more inspired I get.
I sell linens on Etsy in my shop called Betty and Babs. Baskets of linens that need a little attention before they can be listed and sold haunt me daily. I am a keep-the-clutter-under-control kind of a gal so their very presence is a prickly distraction. I decided to explore some possibilities. A damaged table cloth, an elaborately embroidered dresser scarf with a hole and some vintage rick rack became a whole new charming and irresistible bit of fluff for a window.
I'll share some favorites.

Find more of these valances at

Friday, January 18, 2013

Sewing Tip

Just a quick little tip for sewers. Keep your spool of thread and matching bobbin in a small zip lock bag;  they can be tossed into a box together without tangling threads.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Why I Love Vintage #2 – Something Old from Something Old

I buy vintage textiles when I recognize them and figure out what they are and what to do with them on closer examination at home. This quilt was purchased at an auction. I bought it because of the bark cloth and other vintage textiles that were pieced together for the back. The front was an uninteresting patchwork of 12" squares of solid ducks and denims, a basic utilitarian quilt. It was clean and tied with 6 strand knots of embroidery floss. The back was prettier than the front. I could have sold it as-is or used it myself as a back-up blanket in my blanket chest.

I like to examine the construction of my finds; I peeked in a corner to see what is inside. Sighting a vintage pink cotton blanket used as quilt batting I gave myself permission to dismantle the quilt. I didn't need much encouragement as I was very interested in those bark cloth strips.

The green bark cloth was gleaned by taking the back apart at every seam. I put the bark cloth in my Etsy shop and have already sold 5 of the eight pieces. The large vintage cotton print in the center of the back was also washed and prepared for resale but the pink blanket was what I was curious about.

I was pleased that the blanket was in very good condition with no holes; just missing binding at the top and bottom. I could have sold the blanket as it was but I decided to put new bindings on the ends.

Satin binding would be nice; cotton calico would also be cute. I did a little search for an attractive match, opening drawers and shirt boxes in all my hiding places throughout the house. Nothing was saying, "yes," to me until I walked past the clean and folded, ready to be photographed, cotton fabric from the quilt back. That said, "yes."

I cut strips of the fabric, folded them and pressed them, and hand stitched them to the blanket. I could have machine stitched the binding but it didn't take long at all to do by hand and the stitches are hidden. It seems to be quicker for me to just sew by hand rather than pull out the sewing machine. My luck is that the bobbin thread runs out as soon as I get on a roll anyway.

The blanket is for sale in my Etsy shop at
Vinage Pink Cotton Blanket Salvaged Textiles by BettyandBabs

More of the binding fabric can be found at
Vintage Cotton Print Salvaged Textile 50s Remnant by BettyandBabs

Bark cloth remnants are still available at
Leaves and Berries Bark Cloth Christmas Colors by BettyandBabs

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Why I Love Vintage #1 – Repairs

There are a lot of reasons to love vintage textiles – they remind us of Grandma, they represent a time in history when most household goods and clothing were manufactured in the U.S.A., attention was paid to details, and durability was a consideration. What attracts me most to vintage clothing and household items are REPAIRS. I'm happy to find old textiles at a yard sale, thrift sale, estate sale, etc., but when I find repairs to the item I am elated. There was a time before our "throw away society" began when our belongings were treasured enough to do a little "hand work" to add length to their life.

This is a cotton bedspread, probably from the 40s or 50s that followed me home. The first photo shows what was peeking out from a pile of modern day mass-produced household goods that may have only been purchased a year ago and are already tossed aside. After an examination lasting about 2 seconds the decision was made that it was coming home with me. I thought it was a window curtain.

At home the bedspread as well as half dozen other items were given a closer examination. I made the discovery that it was a ruffled bedspread and I noticed that a notch of fabric was removed just above the ruffle and was finished with a running stitch; I tried to think of a reason that the little cut out would be necessary – to accommodate a bed post ? ? ?

I flung the bedspread out on the deck so I could see the whole thing and found little holes right in the middle of the top – and then I found it! The repair! The homemaker stole a little patch of fabric from an inconspicuous spot. She took the time to turn under the raw edges so that fraying would not occur. She made her repair and the pretty cotton green gingham check bedspread with white piping and ruffles could continue to serve.

I will follow the homemakers lead and steal a little more fabric from the inconspicuous spot and finish the edges; I will make my repairs and offer it for sale in the hope that it will continue to be someone's treasure.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Luxury Craft Materials

I like to find interesting materials that artists and crafters can use in their creations. I recently came across a lovely mink jacket that was badly damaged across the shoulders. I brought it home and have offered mink remnants in my ETSY shop. But what do people make with remnants of mink? I searched through ETSY's handmade offerings. Here's what I found.

A mink teddy bear by Mink Bears

OOAK Artist Teddy Bear Mink Teddy Bear custom made by minkbears

A mink and leather keychain with rhinestones by Jitterbag
Vintage Repurposed Mink Leather Keychain Diva by jitterbag on Etsy

Furry mink and sterling silver earrings by Sara Lagace of Montreal
Furry Pom Pom Sterling Silver and Recycled Mink Fur by SaraLagace

And a fascinating fascinator headband by Rose and Thatch
Mink Fascinator Headband Vintage Rhinestone and by RoseAndThatch

Inspired? What would you make with a remnant of luxurious mink?

Find mink remnants at
40s 50s Mink Remnants from Vintage Fur Jacket by BettyandBabs

Friday, August 26, 2011

What Can I Do with this Old Lace?

Scraps of lace turn up from time to time. We tuck them away . . . they are pretty . . . and old . . . and someone lovingly made them. We can't just discard them. They are not perfect anymore; there are broken threads, discoloration, some are unfinished or small remnants.
Some very clever artists have found a solution and I have created an ETSY treasury, "From Heirloom Lace to Family Heirloom," showcasing their workmanship. From Heirloom Lace to Family Heirloom by bettyandbabs on Etsy
My ETSY shop offers remnants of old lace and linens if you are looking for some inspiration. View vintage fabric and trim by bettyandbabs on Etsy

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

New Life for Old Linens

We come across handmade embroidered and crocheted linens from time to time. Some are perfect but most have some sign of age and use – holes, stains, unraveling. But they are soooo pretty. We could set to work at stain removal, mending, repairing . . . or use them as inspiration for something totally new. What about some throw pillows? Browse for fabrics, old linens, trims, buttons . . . and think "New LIfe."