Monday, November 9, 2015

My Esthetic - Old Lace

I love old lace. I think it is so romantic. My love affaire started many years ago when I was furnishing my first home. I wanted to set an elegant table with real linen napkins. I didn't want plain damask napkins. I wanted linen napkins edged in handmade crocheted lace. I found these at estate sales. Now I have a linen cupboard full of them. Also lace table cloths. My paternal grandmother made me a whole set for a wedding present which includes not only the tablecloth but many various, smaller sizes. All in the same pattern. To cover dressers, chests, lamp tables, etc.

Grandmom's wedding gift

I've discovered that this heirloom lace is very, very sturdy. Far outliving the linen it is sewn onto. Our Victorian ancestors, followed by the new immigrants to this country, then the WWII wives would all remove the lace from the hems of  their worn out sheets, pillow cases, towels, napkins, etc. They would save it to apply to new linens or just stash it in a box for me to discover many years later in someone's attic when I go digging at estate sales. No plain, unembellished linens for them. Everything that could be trimmed in lace - was.

Of course, those frugal housewives would not toss the worn out linen when only the middle of sheets wore out, they'd use the edges to make pillow cases, or small nightgowns, or hand towels and finally they were transformed to dustrags and window washers, even diapers.

Miraculously, the removed lace doesn't show any signs of wear. Amazingly, most of it was crocheted by young girls, learning the art, who crocheted yards and yards of it, in strips to be used for edging. They became expert at it, making many embellished linens to fill their own hope chests to bring with them when they left their childhood homes at their own marriage.............bringing all that beautifully embellished linen with them.

freshly laundered estate sale find

In my etsy shop sammysgrammy there are many items I've created re-using vintage lace. I make wedding garters, wedding purses, wedding banners and bunting, all from repurposed vintage lace. I make non-wedding items from the lace as well. It seems to have grabbed  a hold of my heart.

wedding garter

bride's clutch

vintage doily garland

The collection of lace doily filled embroidery hoops on my dining room wall is my most recent foray in vintage lace land.

doilies in hoops

Christmas table top tree in my shop
               Do you have a compelling diversion that keeps you on the "hunt" for more and more?


  1. I love the Christmas tree!

    I'm not really a crafty sort of person, but I wonder whether DD would like to try to make one with me... (this could all end in tears).

    1. Emily, how old is she? Probably no tears if it's her own tree for her own room. Use a styrofoam form. You can use small paper doilies cut in half instead of lace. Let her glue along the cut edge of the doily and glue it on the form. Show her from my picture or one from google, how it should look, Keep your eye on her so she doesn't get glue all over the place. And let her have a ball. Who cares what it looks like. It's going in her room.

  2. Old lace is so pretty! I especially love your lace doily bunting. It's nice to see all the things you are using the lace for. At a recent auction I attended, I purchased a very large box of vintage lace, mostly in white and eggshell colors. Some of it very wide, some very narrow, but all really beautiful. I'm inspired by your article to find ways to reuse this lace.

  3. It is amazing how resourceful these women were. The lace is so beautiful and I am amazed how it looks so good after all of these years.

  4. I love lace. I especially love all the different designs you can find.