Vintage and heirloom fabrics provide a nostalgic sense of warmth that is not easily reproducible by modern fabrics. Crafters of all kinds can make wonderful use of old bolts of fabric, old clothes, tablecloths, draperies, etc…by remaking them into gifts or new household treasures that are definite one-of-a-kinds. Here are tips on where to find vintage fabric and ideas on what crafts and decorative projects it can be used for.
First of all, vintage fabric is not necessarily that crinkly and stained apron or tablecloth at the bottom of your grandmother’s linen closet—although it can be. Vintage fabric is very collectible today and a signed mint tablecloth might fetch a handsome price at auction so be careful what you take your scissors too before checking it out. Many find vintage linens and other fabrics at online auctions like ebay with much success with price ranges running a full gamut at any given time.
Finding Vintage Fabric
However, hunting for vintage fabrics the traditional way can be fairly exciting. Antique shops will have everything from high-priced wedding gowns to cheap dish towels not to mention old aprons, doll clothes, tablecloths, quilts, etc… They are great places to find good examples of old fabric and many times will negotiate on price. Thrift stores and flea markets are also musts for vintage-shopping as well as a magnificent assortment of other odds and ends that may be used in your crafts—old buttons, lace, rhinestones, beads, etc.
Look for Undamaged Sections
Before you throw out that old stained tablecloth consider it for a moment. Are there large flowers or pieces of fruit? Does it have an interesting pattern or is it a holiday tablecloth? If there are undamaged sections of the tablecloth it has potential to be used in your craft projects. For instance, you can cut out the decorative sections and appliqué (even glue them) onto a plain canvas book bag. Or, make a dresser scarf or one or two placemats out of the undamaged sections. Two large tablecloths of the same size in good condition need not only adorn a table—why not you or your daughter? Making them into a reversible wrap-around skirt is a hip way to wear your vintage.
Frequently one finds bed linens and old pillowcases at thrift stores. Invariably these will be stained which is a shame when the vintage floral patterns are so delicate and charming. As with the tablecloths, these can be transformed into dresser scarves. Or, add some ruffle and ribbon ties to a square cut-out section and use them as chair skirts for a pretty old-fashioned look.
Old handkerchiefs may be turned into pretty pillow cases for small sachets. They may be made into sweet little gift bags for a shower favor. Also, several of them may be used to piece a quilt.
It’s always a shame to throw out a piece of embroidery just because its fabric is stained. Save any portions you can for cloth book marks or even to make a book cover for an old book. The possibilities are endless. Patches for old jeans, decoration for jean pockets, eye-glass cases, vests. Use your creativity to address a practical need. A plain photo album shouts to be looked at when covered with a great old pattern.
Finding a vintage chenille bedspread is possible but they often sport stains and holes. Instead, cover a chair cushion or make yourself a light coat with antique buttons. Chenille is also perfect for making rag dolls or stuffed bears.
Vintage fabrics make your surroundings a little sweeter and reflect your own personality depending on how you choose to use them.