Describes fabrics that have been previously owned, and strictly speaking from a quality provider or iconic period of time, though this is increasingly no longer the case.
Making furnishings from vintage fabrics involves re-making – old curtains, tablecloths or bedcovers into new curtains or smaller items by cutting into them, turning or adding to them; rescuing an old sample or object and making it into something new; re-cycling clothing or other textiles through patchwork; re-inventing a dated fabric that you love by giving it a new form… It means looking at something with a new perspective and re-working it.
Over the past thirty years we have had great fun bringing new life from old and tired pieces- sometimes hanging, often folded away in trunks, inherited from grannie’s house, found in the loft….
Silk curtains in particular become more and more fragile over time and start to look every bit like their owners: wonderfully elegant but showing definite signs of a life well lived…. by turning silk or other frayed curtains around – sides to middle or adding borders their lives extended. Most fabric can be re-vitalised by making cushions or small chair covers from larger pieces, or patchworks, even rag rugs.
Apart from basic repairs we’ve done some ‘quilting’ – to lay a vintage fabric over a soft lawn, over wool wadding and then a backing. By careful stitching we can make new life from old, and as long as the fabric is still up to it the extra support gives in a long life. We’d stitch through in large squares, or a simple design that holds the material together without too much handling. We’ve had old patchwork quilts that literally fell apart in our hand – we managed to get a couple of cushions from one and a bolster from another, but they we so far gone. A shame really as they did look very lovely with the colours faded to almost nothing – the patches were originally all shirt materials.
We’ve added borders to the sides and hem of favourite curtains, and make cushions out of others, turned bed quilts into upholstery and turned curtains into bed heads and valances – also quilted, or stitched- these method as well as strengthening, help to hide any fading. Adding braids and fringes is another way to preserve fabrics by hiding tears, patches and old hemlines. On curtains as long as the hems and leading edges have protection by borders or trimmings, if they aren’t pulled by hand they can withstand quite a lot.
Keep vintage fabrics out of bright sunlight, away from pets, and the washing machine.