Pursuits of the Fabric Variety

From Sublime Stitching's Scooter Babe set

From Sublime Stitching's Scooter Babe set

Over the last few weeks, I have set aside the knitting to take up a couple of crafty pursuits that I haven’t touched in ages, like embroidery.  I made these kitchen towels from Jenny Hart sets.  There’s something really satisfying about stitching these patterns.  It’s like a more absorbing version of coloring books.  I have wasted spent many hours looking for free patterns on the Web and have plans for more towels and napkins. 

From the Tiki Freak set
From the Tiki Freak set

Speaking of kitchen linens, I have a wee bit of an obsession with them.  When I go to an antique or thrift store, the very first things I look for are tablecloths.  I will happily buy linens with holes and stains, if I like the pattern, and pay little to no attention to whether it is the right size.  I always, always have a cloth on my kitchen table, partly to protect it from the Awesome Destructive Power of Small Boys, but mostly because I think they look cheerful and homey.  I tend to go for light colored ones (so very practical with little boys), and if there are food or kitchen motifs, all the better.  I really like ones from the 1950s and 1960s, with patterns that remind me of the illustrations from the old Betty Crocker cookbooks.

Some of My Tablecloths

I recently saw The Kitchen Linens Book by EllynAnne Geisel mentioned somewhere on the Interwebs, and I basically raced to the bookstore to pick it up.  Geisel is also the author of The Apron Book, which I also have and love.   I have been slowing flipping through it, enjoying the text, numerous pictures, and recipes.  It also comes with some super-cute transfer patternsThe Kitchen Linens Book featuring anthropomorphized dishes.  Dish motifs = good.  Dishes with cute faces = very good.  Dishes with faces AND stick limbs = very, very good.

Embroidery and collecting old linens are really satisfying to me right now; both seem like the very definition of “cheap and cheerful.”  Combining the two allows me to feel successful at something I find really valuable and important — bringing a little beauty and charm to a very utilitarian object.  I gave these towels to a friend, who promptly stated that they may not be used because they are so pretty.  Heaven forbid!  I pride myself on being a maker and giver of Useful Items which are also (hopefully) beautiful.  And used, and loved.


And apropos of nothing, or rather everything in my life anyway, here’s a little quote that I saw on a calendar and has stuck with me:

There will come a time when you believe everything is finished.

That will be the beginning.

– Louis L’Amour


8 Responses to Pursuits of the Fabric Variety

  1. Jodi says:

    So cute! I just picked up a couple Sublime Stitching packets, too — Carson Ellis and Emily Martin.

    My grandmother has made me MANY hand-embroidered dishtowels over the years, and I use them every day. At first I was afraid of getting them stained, but now I just appreciate that drying my dishes can remind me of my sweet Grandma Max and brighten up my kitchen drudgery.

  2. Sarah says:

    I love a good cheerful linen. I have made wrap skirts from them and just last weekend my grandmother said, “Is that my tablecloth?”

    Indeed it was.

    Now I want a skirt with dishes who are endowed with both faces AND stick limbs.

    And I love the final quote – excellent observation.

  3. EllynAnne says:

    Hey! I so enjoy reading blogs written by vintage cloth collectors – especially when they share of themselves. Your writing is of that ilk, and I just so wish we lived where our paths might cross.

    Please visit my website and sign up for my newsletter. I try very hard for it to be an interesting read – you’ll let me know, I hope!

    My fav sister and her 18 year old autistic daughter are visiting. I remember when Lara was nine. The years hence and growth in and of itself has wrought a lovely, creative (Lara is an illustrator! of a series of books), fashionable, sweet as pie girlie. If you’d ever like to speak with my sister, just email me. She’s been where you’re at, and that’s a sisterhood I cannot really know.

    Thank you for loving my books, too!


  4. Lisa says:

    Thank you for the quote. It is very fitting for me, right now. Enjoy your blog.

  5. Heather says:

    Embroidery so takes me back to Brownies & Girl Scouts when we embroidered like crazy for one solid year!

  6. So freakin’ cute! I must have that scooter one–looks just like my little red scooter!

  7. ali says:

    Oh, fun! Loving the emroidered hand towels these days!!

  8. Linda says:

    I was on my way to the post office recently and on impulse followed some hand-made signs to an estate sale. I picked up three embroidered pillow cases for $3 total. If I had gotten there earlier, I might have even found more and better.

    Thanks for the link to Jenny Hart! Those patterns are adorable. It’s nice to know lots of people still hand-embroider! I used to be pretty good at it, and I could see getting into it again.

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