Sunday, 2 July 2017

Village Fetes and Vintage Tablecloths


Yesterday we went to the local village summer show near where my parents live. It was a bit of an institution during our childhood and I still love to go. It's like a summer fete but with entertainment, along the lines of "Scruffs" dog competition, with rosettes for things like "fastest sit" and "best dog fancy dress". Brilliant stuff. We ate ice creams and wandered around, bumping into people I'd not seen for years. I bought five plants (foxgloves and antirrhinums) from the plant stall for a fiver but sadly the local produce stall was almost empty by the time I'd got there, otherwise I'd have snapped up some rhubarb, The tea tent was doing a roaring trade and the cream teas looked excellent, but I was still eating my Mr Whippy at that point. Honestly, it was just a lovely afternoon, even the weather was nice. 


I also spotted the most beautiful hand embroidered tablecloth on one of the bric-a-brac stalls, and bought it for £1. Yes, £1! It's a little stained in places, and too small for our dining table, but I couldn't just leave it there. I've got an idea in my head for re-purposing it so I've just treated some of the stains and given it a wash.


It's hard to photograph, but this gives you an idea of the pattern and colours. 


I was instantly drawn to the simplicity of the flower motif and the lovely colours.


Each corner is worked in a slightly different colourway.


And the quality of the stitching is just incredible. The back of the work is so neat. You can see the back below, on the left and the front on the right. It's hard to see the difference between the two.


When I showed this to my mum, she dug out two tablecloths she'd had in a cupboard for some time which are never used, and offered them to me. The first, below, was started by my Great-Grandmother and finished by my Grandma.


Isn't it lovely? I'm not sure what the flowers are supposed to be but they feel like they should be from an English country garden.


And again, the back of the work is just flawless.


The second was made by Auntie Win (short for Winifred), who I believe was my Great-Grandmother's sister, making her my Great, Great Aunt, I think? 


The purples and lilacs would never be my first choice in colours, but with the white background and green it's a beautiful combination.


Added to the scraps of embroidered linen I already have at home, below, I have a little collection going on now.


I've had a few ideas simmering away in the back of my mind for a while now around patchwork quilts, but haven't actually started anything yet. But yesterday's bargain has started a plan: I am going to turn my stash of vintage embroidered tablecloths into a patchwork quilt. Yes, I'm going to cut them up. That might horrify some people, but I don't see the point of having something beautiful tucked away in a cupboard because it's too impractical for everyday use, when it could be turned into something that could be enjoyed and looked at every day. I was inspired by this beautiful curtain and for a moment did consider making a pair for our bedroom, but practicality won and I'll keep the pair we have which help to keep the room lovely and dark and cool. The quilt pieces will be square and quite large, to capture as much of the pattern as possible and it will be white, light and summery. Very pretty, very soft - not really the sort of thing I usually go for at all - but hopefully not too granny-chic. Not that there's anything wrong with granny-chic, but I have to remember that John also lives in this house and that perhaps he isn't quite as wild about vintage embroidery as I am. So if you have any ideas, suggestions or advice I'd love to hear them, thank you.

I hope you're all enjoying your weekends? Thank you so much for your recent comments on my bag and the sweet peas. I know you are all so busy and I really do appreciate you taking the time to leave a comment and say hello. The sweet peas are still going strong. I might pick a bunch now to put on the table for dinner later as my parents are coming over for a barbecue. We're having marinated herby chicken breasts, potato wedges, halloumi, stuffed peppers and lots of salad, with Eton mess for dessert. My mum is bringing prosecco. It's all good. 


29 comments:

  1. I'm such a sucker for old linens and your family's women-folk did such beautiful work. It's a shame to see them cut up. I enjoyed the pictures of the village fete.

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  2. Cutting up stuff that is too damaged to use whole makes sense, it extends their life. I do struggle with cutting up things that are whole and perfect. Your dinner sounds lovely!

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  4. We don't really have events like this, so I'm always fascinated to see posts about them. I think your quilt plan sounds nice. If they're damaged, I can see finding a new purpose for them. I do remember when another blogger who does this a lot received some serious reprimands from some kind of linen historian, though. Hopefully they don't find your blog and do the same to you. It was pretty ridiculous. Anyway, how nice of your mom to give you some more cloths, they're all very pretty.

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  5. I went to a workshop recently and we used these kind of embroidered tablecloths and traycloths to make a picture. I had to take a deep breath before cutting into them but love the picture I made (or will when it's finished!). Since then I've carried on hunting them out - last week I bought two traycloths for 50p each and a tablecloth for £1! Looking forward to seeing what you make with yours. X

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  6. But should he be allowed three ice-creams..? Brilliant find, I love it when there's something handmade and lovely to be had. A quilt would be lovely, with some pale green and pale pink plain squares maybe. Posy Gets Cosy has some lovely vintage quilt kits at the moment that might inspire you. CJ xx

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  7. Can't wait to see what you do with the tablecloths, better to be cut up and used I say!

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  8. I have done this Gillian, with some old embroidered table cloths that were marked and it wouldn't wash out. I cut them up and matched the colour schemes with some old Laura Ashley cotton. then made bunting from it all. Looks fab. I am saving up some more now, which I buy when I see for a quilt. I was thinking of using the embroidered parts as a square, and making that the middle of some log cabins with flowery cotton.
    Enjoy the making . Bev

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  9. Oh, now that sounds right up my street, as I love fetes & country shows. What a great bargain for the tablecloth & if I lived closer, I'd be able to help you not fret about it all & just have fun designing & making, then enjoying it. I think the stitch name of "lazy daisy" says it all, as it is then non specific flower, eh! I still have rhubarb going even after our heavy frost yesterday, which was still in the shaded corner at 4pm in the afternoon. Take care.

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  10. The tablecloths all look as if they were made using the popular transfers that came with craft magazines in the 1930s. I have some transfers from 1935/36 snd some pieces my granny worked 😀
    Jane Brocket talks about them in the Gentle Art of Domesticity, too, and also reasons that it's better to cut and use than not to use at all, which I think is a fair argument!

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  11. I think that's an incredible idea. Can't wait to see how it turns out.

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  12. Beautiful table cloths. I love finding these embroidered ones. How nice that you have family made ones too.

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  13. It looked like a wonderful day, and all the more so with the treasures you came home with, Gillian. Did you ever follow Jane Brocket's blog? I think she saved some embroidery for a quilt, too. I hope you continue to have happy days :) xx

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  14. I have a similar cloth my mother started in the 1950's and finished in the 2000's just before she died. The linen has yellowed though which is a shame. I keep it folded up in a drawer and feel it is such a shame but don't really think I could do anything else with it.

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  15. I like the idea of a summery quilt! The colours and shapes of the flowers on your vintage find are really beautiful, I think I could not have left it there, either - especially not for 1 pound!!
    My Mum has many hand-embroidered table cloths, some from her grandmother, some from her mother, and some that she has made herself. They are in almost daily use and changed round according to the season.

    This time next week, I'll already be in Yorkshire! Yay!!

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  16. I love old linens & have quite a collection, including those with delicate cotton crochet edges that my grandmother made. Sad that I never met her as she died in a road accident before I was born. I still have the embroidery transfers from my mother's collection too. I don't know if I could bear to cut them up, but I love it that yours will be on show & admired. Sad to leave all that work folded away and left in a drawer!

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  17. It is going to be great. Randomness like that takes some planning but I know you can do it - You wouldn't make it without a plan now would you Gillian!! Jo x

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  18. Your village fete sounds like a grand day out and your tablecloth was an absolute bargain. I've a few stashed away somewhere, so I can't wait to see your quilt. xx

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  19. That sounds like a lovely idea, you have such an eye for these things. The fete sounds glorious, as does the dinner and prosecco x

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  20. I have a few tablecloths like this that I inherited, they sit in a drawer as I don't really use tablecloths so I am keen to see how your project pans out.

    Good luck :)

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  21. I have my Nans embroidered tablecloth and I cannot wait to see your crafting. I wish I lived near you, your meals always sound amazing. x

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  22. Wonderful tablecloths and linens, enjoy whatever you decide to make with them!

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  23. I love vintage tablecloths and use them on my late Mum's little tea table most weekends. It's a happy thing to do. X

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  24. I love the old style tablecloths and think we should use them more these days. But saying that if they are stuck in a draw and not being used it is a shame. Good to use them for craft at least they will be seen then. Inheriting some of my Mum inspired me to start embroidery which i now do as a hobby and very small business.

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  25. Damn this Embroidered Table Cloth is superb, I have never seen design like these. I really appreciate it for sharing :)

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  26. The girls in my class are having a ball with this pattern, where doileys are cut up and used in the blocks. So sweet! I totally agree that they may as well be put in a quilt where they'll be used and admired than languishing in a cupboard! http://www.treehousetextiles.com.au/workshop/sewing-pattern-1/

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  27. This post is truly inspiring. I like your post and everything you share with us is current and very informative, I want to bookmark the page so I can return here from you that you have done a fantastic job.

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