Sunday, January 29, 2012

Treasure Hunt: Vintage Embroidered Pillowcases

This lovely lady is a mixture of quilted pieces
and hand sewn applique...fantastic!
While I love the crisp, clean lines of an all white bedroom, I have a hard time resisting big, bold colors.  One of my favorite blankets is a vibrantly colored vintage quilt given to me by a friend that he no longer wanted but that I completely coveted.  So trying to find an appealing mix of bright colors and sparkling white been a bit of a challenge, but I've come up with one great solution:  vintage embroidered pillowcases and linens.  The cheerful, lovingly executed handiwork combined with soft, good quality cotton appeal to both the crafter and the collector in me.  Vintage cotton, before the days of blends and polyesters, has a wonderful, comfy feeling that I personally feel would be hard to beat in even the highest Egyptian thread counts. 

Vintage Embroidered Pillowcases:  Who Needs Ikea?
Today out at the Sunday flea market in Green Park in Bath I nabbed this matching pair for a measly £5 (about $7.50).  When a basic pair of colored pillowcases at Ikea cost £3, I was pretty pleased.  And also pleased I negotiated £1 off the asking price.....I not only love a bargain...but also love to bargain!

With this particular set I loved that there was plenty of detail and color, but not in a fussy, grandmotherly kind of way.  I also loved the clean but detailed design. 

Something to look for when buying vintage embroidered linens is whether the work is handmade or machine made.  I believe this set is machine made, because of the consistency of the stitching and the way the threads were finished on on the backside. I have other hand-embroidered pillowcases - if you look closely you can see slight inconsistencies in the needlework that show they're handmade.  Knowing something is handmade definitely can add to the charm, but it also can add to the price.  It's good to know the difference so you get what you pay for.

When buying vintage pillowcases do keep an eye out for the size.  Just as people were smaller "back then" so were the pillows.  Some older pillowcases are of a slightly smaller size than our jumbo-sized modern pillows, so watch for that.  Also watch for stains and other unsightly blemishes.  Some can be bleached out, but marks and stains from regular use are likely to be permanent.
Ideally, they'll look like these...the pillowcases someone kept in the cupboard, with the good china, for the day when the Queen came to visit.  Which, in most cases, means they're in pristine condition.

1 comment:

  1. you should look at my recent post about crocheted edges applied to fabric. that could sweetly dress up some white linens. :)