Calling all Collectors: What Do You Do With Vintage Textiles?

Calling all Collectors: What Do You Do With Vintage Textiles?

Eleanor Büsing
Oct 27, 2014
(Image credit: Trouvais)

Does it ever seem to you that you attract certain items, like a specific kind of human magnet? As a lifelong textile enthusiast, I find it hard to say no to any kind of vintage textile, a (mis)fortune I seem to share with my parents. Their house is fairly bursting with linens, lace, old tablecloths and monogrammed napkins, all made with care by past generations of our family.

The sentimental part of me wants to keep them all, but the minimalist side can't abide owning things that don't serve a purpose, and while beautiful, many of these textiles just don't jive with modern life.

The clear answer is to try to re-purpose these items where possible. Here are a couple things I've done with vintage textiles to bring them new life:

(Image credit: AMBphoto)

1. Turn doilies into a table runner.
I'm not generally a fan of lace or very feminine decor, but weddings are an exception. Inspired by this AT post from a few years back, I took several old doilies, handmade by my grandmother and great-grandmother, and created a table runner for my sister's wedding two summers ago. It added texture to the cake table, and made use of some textiles that had been sitting in a drawer for decades.

(Image credit: Pillowlink on Etsy)

2. Make tea towels and hand towels out of linen sheets.
I happen to think that linen makes the best towels; the older it gets, the softer and more absorbent it becomes. Worn-out sheets are often only threadbare in the centre, but the 10-15 inches around the edges, normally just tucked around the sides and bottom of the mattress, is often as good as new. Use a tutorial like this one to create some simple white tea and hand towels, as I've done several times.

Of course, these ideas are just the tip of the iceberg, and I'd love to hear some more. So pipe up in the comments— do you have a glut of textiles, perhaps vintage and sentimental? What do you do with them?

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