If You Listen To The Old Embroideries
Originally a Wordpress Blog Post 12/17/14 Updated 4/14/2020
If You Listen, These Old Embroideries Will Speak To You...
Every generation has their own voice. Usually world events like major wars, crop failures, political unrest and other factors affect aspects of life that we may not grasp at the time. Even things that become the fabric of everyday life, even when life isn't so good, we find pleasure in simple things.
After spending many years collecting and enjoying vintage and antique everyday linens, I gravitate to the bold embroidery and utility items from the 1920's to the 1950's. I think the reason that I like them is because I could have done them myself. I was born in the early 1950's so, I wasn't around for some of this but my mother and grandmother and those generations were there. Yes, I do embroider occasionally. Even today, hand embroidery is an inexpensive way to add a bit of cheer and embellishment to everyday items. So many of the items that make their way to my shop probably started out as stamped pillowcases and dresser scarves bought at the "dime store".
I'm talking SS Kreske's, FW Woolworth, JG McCrory's & Ben Franklin. Many companies produced these embroidery "blanks", mostly they were printed designs in blue or red on cotton or linen fabrics. You would choose the floss colors and maybe lace for the edge as an added bonus. Many of these were finished with hand crochet or tatted edges. These projects traveled with the embroiderer. They went to family gatherings, meetings, women's clubs and church socials. Women who did this craft- and there were many- liked to keep their hands busy and any idle time was often used to pursue hand stitchery.
We wonder if women must have had more spare time "back then" but the truth is, most didn't. So many did however, find time to stitch to personalize their environment. Dish towels had days of the week designs, aprons were "chicken scratched", guest towels (notice nobody will use them?) were embroidered with flowers & birds. I think my favorites of all time though are embroidered pillowcases. Everyday embroidered items have a story to tell. Many are well used and becoming older to the point of deterioration. I consider them a piece of history as important as any antique and intend to preserve as many as I can.
The next time you find a stained dresser scarf or faded embroidered pillowcase at a tag sale, hold it in your hands and try to imagine the hands at the other end of it's history. Was she a young farm wife trying to cheer up her kitchen or maybe a grandmother making a special gift for an upcoming wedding? Perhaps a little girl stitching her first bluebird (Thank you Aunt Barbara).
Sometimes, they speak to me and if you listen, they will speak to you too... Do you have a special piece that you feel has a story? Please share it.
Stay Vintage My Friend,