Was I born too late? My love of all things vintage makes me wonder sometimes if I was really meant to live in a different time period….and I sew! Who does that anymore?
For many years I have been collecting and tinkering around with vintage fabrics and furnishings in a way that has recently been labeled “upcycling” and you can see many of my (mostly) home-dec creations in my first book, Fabric Remix.
Some of my favorite fabrics to work with are the mid-century geometric patterns on barkcloth, which are becoming harder to find and also harder to afford. Because there was no such thing as the Internet when this love affair started, I’ve always favored scavenger-style shopping…thrift stores, estate sales, flea markets, antiques shops, etc. and I think it’s just more fun to get out there and dig for treasures. My all time favorite bricks and mortar store for this is hunt & gather in Minneapolis. There is no other place like it and if you ever find yourself anywhere near that city you must visit that shop! But, there can be dry seasons for this type of hunting during which I have found some great online sources when I need some inspiration or just feel that itch.
Trueup has great vintage fabric source guides that will steer you to whatever you’re looking for, whether it be real vintage or reproductions. I like Donna Flower and Vicki Grubb (Something Fine), both from the U.K., and Etsy also has some shops, Moxie is a good one…and then there’s Ebay. Once you start clicking around you will soon find yourself buried in a virtual pile of awesome textiles.
Once my finds are safe at home they are thrown into the washing machine with some OxyClean (or other super detergent) and then the dryer or line-dried. I don’t coddle fabrics. If they can’t survive a trip through the washer they won’t serve my purpose. That said, if you put down a wad of money on a lovely but well worn and fragile piece that you would never dare to machine-wash, I understand that happens. If that’s the case, then you should hand wash, line dry, and don’t plan to use it for something functional.
Need some ideas for how to use your vintage? The obvious choices are crafting pillows, bags, bedding and table linens. But how about a lampshade or a shower curtain or a skirt? Maybe sew a cover for your bicycle seat or a cushion for your pup? And don’t forget to save the scraps to use as patches when the knees and thighs blow out of your jeans!
Want to try some of my great fabric and upholstery projects? Simply let me know how you source vintage fabric or how you use it in the comments below and you’ll be entered to win a copy of my book Fabric Remix, or a copy of Signature Styles which gave me the inspiration for the upcycled skirt project I shared with you this week! Comments must be left by 9:30am EST on Friday, August 5th to be eligible. Good luck!
Artist and designer Sandy Stone has been breathing new life into old furnishings for nearly two decades. Her work has been featured in Country Living magazine and Midwest Home. She currently works in her home studio in the Linden Hills neighborhood of Minneapolis. See more from Sandy at Sand Stone Design Studio.