DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
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9 June 2014

Family history tablecloth


I've been moving towards this project for some time.  A few months ago I found this curtain, added it to my Pinterest pages and started putting together my old doilies so I could make it.  When Tricia came up a few months ago, she made it up for me as two kitchen curtains. They didn't fall well because instead of hanging in a long single length, they were very wide.  After a couple of weeks looking at them, I took them down, put them away and made kitchen curtains using the cutoffs of our bedroom curtains. Then I happened upon Jane Brocket's garden party quilt and it ignited my passion again.


A few days ago, I got the curtains out of the cupboard, did some alterations, added a middle section, sewed the curtains into one piece and turned them into a table cloth.  When I laid our table with that cloth, those doilies felt as if they'd come home at last and were made to grace our table. Now I have the pleasure of seeing those old doilies - some of them with family history - much more often. With just a little work, it's become part of my every day. I much prefer to use what I have instead of keeping them in a cupboard. And it's made up a beautiful cloth that used to be part of my family history into part of daily life.


You can make something like this too. Search for doilies, embroidered table cloths and hand towels, tea towels and old handkerchiefs, or even small pieces of fancy fabric you like the look of. If you don't have enough, stitch a few pieces of plain fine cotton copying the older styles in the pieces you have. Try to make each piece fairly similar in weight. My cloth has very soft handkerchief cotton, light linen and a lot of fine cotton but most of them are very old, have been washed a lot and have lost any heaviness they once had. Set all your pieces out on a bed first to work out your patterns and size and to be sure of the colours and shapes, then pin it and sew on the sewing machine.


In the photo above, I think that little red flower spray was worked by Tricia when we were at school, the white lace doily at the front is mums, the blue cross stitch I bought at Blackheath a few years ago and it looks like one of Tricia's old hankies on the left. The white lace at the back was bought at an antique shop a few years ago and I think it was once church linen - I think a candle stick stood on it. When the cloth was laid, I added roses and gerberas from the front garden and stood back. A few more tweaks and I was satisfied, the project was finished. I had a cloth to be proud of that makes me think of my wonderful family and all the fine stitchers among our ranks. It also gives me the unusual opportunity to sit at the kitchen table with them again and that, my friends, is the icing on the cake.

Do you have a cloth or curtains like this? Do you have any handiwork that reminds you of your family?

Judy has started a thread at the forum about this, click here to go there.

29 comments:

  1. Hi Rhonda, love reading your blog every morning, but I was wondering what has happened to those other blogs that used to be on your sidebar? Apologies if you have already answered this elsewhere, but I was away for a week. Cheers, Melindi

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    1. Hi Melindi. I'm in the process of changing the list to a new set of links. I do that every so often. I've not quite completed my list but as soon as I do, they'll be up again.

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  2. Never seen or heard of anything like that. I like cloth on my table. Seem to never get one on.
    Coffee is on

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  3. How pretty! I have spent the day ironing all my napkins and placemats (after spraying them with homemade lavender spray --- ummmmmm) and then tying them in matching bundles with ribbons. As I have done this, I have come across a lot of doilies and have wondered what to do with them. This could be just the ticket!

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  4. That is a lovely tablecloth, Rhonda. It has turned out so pretty. I have some old doileys of mums which would also look lovely made up like that but unfortunately I would have nowhere to put it. I had seen that curtain on Pinterest in the past and admired it. Looks like another warm day here on the Darling Downs after a cool morning. Very unseasonal weather for us!

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  5. Hi Rhonda,

    How wonderful that you can now see all of the beautiful handiwork and memories regularly! I don't have a big collection of doilies, so as I use them (call me old fashioned) I do get to see them regularly. I hope to inherit my mother's collection, you've never seen such beautifully executed embroidery.

    I can remember like it was yesterday, being shown how to hand wash the doilies and roll them in a towel. They were then dried on a wooden rack in the shade before being starched with a homemade solution from a little bottle with holes in the lid, and finally ironed. It seems like such a procedure but I loved it.

    Have a wonderful day,

    Madeleine.xx

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    1. Or was the starch sprinkled on, and then they were rolled up together for a while before being ironed - can anyone remember??

      Madeleine

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    2. Hi Madeleine........my recollection is the linens were dipped in a starch solution after washing and before drying, then everything was damped down and rolled ready for ironing....I think the damping was the forerunner of our steam irons. I remember the little sprinkling bottles too and that whites went into a Reckitt's blue solution to whiten them.

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    3. We made up an enamel bowl of hot starch and soaked items that needed a good starching in the bowl, after they'd been washed. Then the items would be fed through the wringer and hung to dry. Most items were taken off the line before they were fully dry, rolled up and added to the washing basket for ironing. Mum had one of those sprinkler heads that you could push into the top of a bottle that was full of water. That was sprinkled on the fabric just before they were ironed.

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    4. Thank you both, lovely to hear how others got the job done :)

      Madeleine.X

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  6. O Rhonda that looks so pretty. I made a curtain for my daughters bedroom by sewing doilies & old embroidery work on the fine cotton pink fabric so the light still shines through it. I saw your post about the Garden quilt & it looks amazing, now hunting for more pretties & inspired to do some old style embroidery. I did some embroidery book marks using the children's drawings after seeing the project in Rhythm of the family by Amanda Soule this is something I could do in making a quilt or as you have done here it this amazing family tablecloth. It's always such a delight seeing what you make Rhonda & how you take old & make it new again & so beautiful

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  7. It is truly lovely, Rhonda. A beautiful heirloom to treasure.

    I have a number of my grandmother's doilies with her beautiful embroidery. Some are framed and hanging on my bedroom wall, others are just sitting in my linen cupboard. I must get them out and see what I can create with them.

    Enjoy your day, Lesley-Anne

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    1. I hadn't thought about framing them, what a wonderful idea for the most special ones!

      Madeleine

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  8. What a beautiful idea. I took like to incorporate my special things into my everyday life.

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  9. Really gives a new life an old things by repurposing this way. I have doilies hand made by relatives overseas and they are so precious to me. This is the perfect way to honour their work and still have a very practical use for them.

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  10. I love this so much Rhonda! Your tablecloth is beautiful and imbued with so much love and so many stories. I have a large collection of doilies I've been planning to turn into something similar for such a long time, but I have a silly fear of "ruining" them (because I'm not the most confident sewer) so I keep hesitating. Thanks for the inspiration!

    Katie xx

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  11. Your tablecloth is just beautiful Rhonda, I love the idea of you sitting down at the table with the family stitchers......and stitches..... gathered around you. I love that pretty curtain and have it pinned as well, I keep looking at it trying to decide where I could hang one like that.

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  12. I love this idea and your table cloth is so charming. I can not believe that I have not come across your blog before, it is amazing. I can learn a lot for you, sister. We just purchased a small home in the country and I finally have a place to grow a garden. I have wanted to do this my whole life but never really had a good place to garden. This is my year to learn to can and put up vegetables and to start composting. I have been retired for three years and I spend my spare time quilting, sewing, painting and playing and singing with an small group of retirees that entertain at nursing homes, assisted livings and farmer markets. I'm your newest follower and I would love to invite you to visit and follow me back if you have the time. I'm open to any suggestions in bettering my new country life :)

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  13. Rhonda, the cloth is absolutely gorgeous. Lets hope the man of the house doesn't leave a "ring of confidence" mark on this one quite so soon as he did with your Birthday gift. I will be following the thread over on the forum to see what some others may come up with. I certainly am going to go through my stash in the linen press to see how many more I may need to get started on a project of my own.
    Blinky

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  14. Love this idea. We have a very old hand embroidered cloth which I adore. When I left my marriage I was saddened because my ex would not hand back my work. We also use some cloths that my father's mother used during his childhood.

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  15. Oh...I love this idea! Thank you for the inspiration. All of my "family doilies" were crocheted by my grandmother and I still use them in our home. HOWEVER, your idea gives me something to look for when I visit second hand and antique stores! Thanks so much!

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  16. Absolutely exquisite, Rhonda :-) So glad to see you haven't cut up any of your doilies to make it - they look so much nicer when they are left intact. Although maybe they were all in good nick anyway!
    I've seen several quilts using doilies to embellish a white or cream damask or heavy cotton quilt, and they look fabulous. I've also seen one or two variations on your cloth, where people have stitched doilies to the curtains which are actually hanging up.

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  17. Hi Rhonda!
    This post made me so happy and nostalgic as those patterns took me back to my little girl days and the hand embroidered handkerchiefs we used to have. They used to be so pretty. Seems like nobody uses handkerchiefs anymore.
    The seasons are changing here, from dry to wet and we are frantically working in the garden. I am a happy bee =)
    Husband and I have started two experiments as a result of what seems to be a decreasing of water resources and an increasingly bad dry season every year. 1] Hugelkultur beds using all the dry branches we could find and the pruned limbs of 2 of our huge trees. 2] Wicking beds. Both of these were done during the inactive dry period. Have you any advise to give on these? I am guessing at the crops to use in the first planting of the hugelkultur beds - peas and beans to add nitrogen, as the rotting wood eats this up. Was thinking of adding some seaweed too. Have you any experience with this?
    We also rigged up a drip irrigation system and a sprinkler system for other beds, these we attached to a timer. This has proven invaluable to our time and energy.

    Love always to you and Hanno, my constant inspirations.

    Vicki
    Trinidad & Tobago

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    1. I've not tried either of those processes, Vicki. Good luck with your garden.

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  18. I am not the type to keep things in a cupboard, but want these treasure out for display, for daily enjoyment. What a wonderful way to hold on to these family treasures in a practical, functional way. I quite, quite like it.

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  19. What a great idea. Thanks for sharing. Now if I can just remember where I put those little handmade thingys.

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  20. I recently made an 'heirloom quilt' for my new grandson, born overseas. I took an old falling apart christening dress, some camisoles, tatted hankerchiefs that my Mom had saved, and sewed them into a quilt. It was such fun, and I felt as though I was assembling handiwork from generations of women in my family - all those women are now hugging him. I dont think you allow links here, but you can see a photo on my blog. Just click on heirloom quilt in the cloud on the side bar on my blog. I am inspired to do more sewing like that,and pleased to see you are doing the same.

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  21. I love this! I have several dollies from my Great Granny and Grand Mothers. I may be doing something like this. Thanks for the idea!

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  22. Your cloth is so lovely! What a way to experience memories every day. My husband's grandmother made us some hand crocheted lace pieces and I was thinking of using one for a curtain. Maybe I can use more of them and have a soft pastel cloth behind them to show through?

    Wonderful ideas and I totally agree about using and enjoying the pieces we have and not storing them all away "for good" as my mom and many of her generation seem to do lately.
    Jan

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