Sewing with Vintage Textiles

Last month, when I was sewing my fingers to the bone, I was also busy buying vintage textiles for new 2013 designs. I re-invested half of my December Etsy shop income in fabric. Talk about fun, fun, fun!

Sutton Place DesignsI was able to find vintage linen toweling, European grain sacks and linen bedding. I found a couple of sellers in France who worked with me to mix and match several pieces of antique, French fabric.

Sewing with vintage fabricThe fabric from France came in pieces. There were 5 pieces and they were all different sizes. I laid it out and designed the pillow covers accordingly.  That was a challenge. I ended up adding grain sack to get a better selection of pillow covers. I hesitated for just a second because I like pillow covers that have grain sack on both sides. In the end, I decided that grain sacks and vintage french fabric make the perfect pair!

Here are a few hints for sewing with vintage fabric:

1.  Launder first…before you do anything else. I have been tempted to skip this step but I think it’s very important. As a consumer, I wouldn’t want to buy a pillow cover from old fabric that had been sitting in an antique shop or barn for who knows how many years. Most of the time vintage fabric has an odd smell. It’s best to get rid of all those years of dirt and dust.

2. I use a pod of detergent and a pod of Oxiclean on a normal cycle. I rinse twice. For the grain sacks I add Downy. I don’t add Downy for the bedding because I like it to be crisp and a little stiff.

3. Dry it all the way. Use a normal dryer setting and just let it run out. By doing this, the chances that the fabric will shrink after you have sewed with it are greatly reduced.

Tips for Sewing with Vintage Textiles from On Sutton Place

4.  Iron it.  This is not my favorite step but again a necessary one. Vintage linens usually come out of the dryer a wrinkled mess. I use the hottest steam setting on my iron. A spray bottle filled with water works wonders to get out wrinkles.

5. Square if off before you cut. Even if you have a bed sheet or pillow case that looks perfectly straight, chances are that it’s not. Make sure and get a square, straight edge on your piece of fabric before you measure and cut.

I also listed some smaller, neutral pillow covers for Valentine’s day…although they can all be used through out the year. Some of the heart sachets are made from a piece of Rachel’s coverlet.

Wishing you all a beautiful weekend. The sky is baby blue here but it’s colder than the dickens. See you soon!


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Thoughts from my friends...

  1. says

    Hi Ann,
    Since opening by shop a few months ago, I don’t get a chance to visit as many blogs as I have in the past. Glad I stopped by! I like your new “look” and am so glad you had someone take a great photo of you! This is an excellent piece on fabric preparation. Extra steps, but so important!
    Your work is beautiful, as always!

  2. says

    Thanks for sharing these great tips! It makes sense but could be easily overlooked. Your linens are perfect! You are one talented lady ;) Glad I found your blog.
    Jamie ~ Better With Age

  3. Jane @ Cottage at the Crossroads says

    Ann, all of your new items are just gorgeous! I would order one of each if I could! Those hearts made from the matelasse are incredible. Hope you are having a great weekend!

  4. says

    Lovely stuff Ann! I am head-over-heels in love with European grain sacks! Problem is I want a stack of my own and have a hard time cutting them up – LOL! Your stuff is just so wonderful!
    Have you ever tried a pressurized steam iron? Makes the ironing step a totally different story – I will most likely never go back to a regular iron.

  5. says

    I love the fabrics that you are using, very nice! I especially like the ones with the red stripes, I would love to have some of that to make blinds with for my kitchen. Your heart pillows are beautiful!
    The sky is blue and it’s cold and windy here, wind chills up to -35 Celsius. Brrr, I’m staying inside today.
    I hope you’re having a good weekend.
    Love and hugs, Cindy

  6. says

    These are gorgeous things you have made. I love the vintage textiles and you do a wonderful job creating something new out of them. The button heart pillow is so sweet. It just stopped snowing here and it’s going to warm up for tomorrow then the deep freeze again. Have a great weekend.

  7. Kris says

    So cute! I have got to get my Esty shop up and rolling again! I got a little bit upset with it, because of all of the fees, but oh well. I love Matelasse too!! Did I spell it right? I have a bedspread that I adore, but we have two big dogs that do too, and it is not great choice for fur balls!

  8. Pondside says

    When you started out, did you think you’d be writing, so happily and confidently ‘ I re-invested half of my December Etsy shop income in fabric’? You’re making such beautiful things, and it sounds like you are having the time of your life.

  9. Sandy says

    I’m thinking that heart to heart pillow cover is calling my name. Beautiful fabrics, and as always, lovely pieces.
    Enjoyed reading about Rachel’s coverlet yesterday and went on a search to discover a few pieces in matelasse I have from my mother; new treasures.