More Vivian treasures

I have written in the past how my friend Vivian's parents died a few years ago. Vivian's parents were part of my synagogue community, as is Vivian.  Vivian's mother was born in Austria and arrived with her family before WWII.  They had come early enough to be able to bring STUFF, lots of it.

Vivian's mother and grandmother were steeped in the old European traditions of women doing hand work. They brought a great deal of beautiful linens with them. I also think that as people displaced from home they loved to acquire things that reminded them of home. Not everything from the Vivian treasures belonged to Vivian's family in Europe. 

Vivian lives in a beautiful apartment  with a fabulous view. There is no way she can keep the contents of her parents' larger apartment and the country house they had upstate in her apartment and not look like a hoarder. Vivian has been spending the good part of the past few years finding good homes for all of the stuff. Vivian has been giving me some of the old linens that had come from her family. I admire the efficient yet thoughtful way Vivian has gone about doing this really difficult task.

Yesterday she gave me another two bags full of treasures. I want to share three of the pieces with you.

I am an avid reader of women's magazines from the late 19th and early 20th century. Google Books has been a wonderful source for home making and needlework magazines of that era. 

I love the housekeeping advice. 

One of the magazines I was recently reading had a column on how to make your rented summer bungalow homey and comfortable while you were there. The article suggested that you cover the pillows in the bungalow with hand embroidered pillow slips with an 
outdoorsy theme.

As soon as I unfolded this heavy linen  pillow slip, I knew exactly what it was.

It was made to make a cabin home like. I have seen these sorts of  rustic motifs in pre WWI hand work books and magazines as example of charming ways to decorate your rustic home.
The open end of the pillow slip might have been laced together with ribbon or a strip of rawhide. It's just such lovely embroidery. I suppose that if I knew more about pine trees i would be able to identify exactly what sort of a pine was depicted here.

Those vintage magazines also suggested that one could use hand embroidered pillow slips to make a hotel room feel more home like.  I am guessing based on the decorative motifs and colors that this pillow slip is from the late twenties or early 1930's

The edged eyelets are embroidered only on the face of the pillow slip, so they didn't function like a closure. Either a wide ribbon was threaded as an added decorative element or the edged slits were meant to show off a colored pillow case. Your guess is as good as mine about the reason for the beautifully embroidered eyelets. 
Aren't those French knotted blossoms sweet?

 Such a sweet and sophisticated way to dress up a hotel room.

Finally, there is this piece.   I think this is the oldest of the three, clearly Art Nouveau, a few expertly embroidered blooms on a linen cloth embellished with Battenburg  lace.
The Battenburg work is an extra fancy version of this work.  That alone would have made this a nice piece, but the embroidery is really quite special.

This piece combines elegant stitching with a really sophisticated sense of color. 

Even the back of the piece is pretty. I am working on washing and pressing this latest batch of goodies.
I also want to show you how nicely this piece is hemmed. More of the Battenburg lace is used to beautifully cover the raw edges.
 I am now a big fan of Oxy-clean. After I soak stained and discolored linens in the Oxy-clean and pull them out pristine I feel like one of those ads from a mid century detergent ad. I am ashamed to admit I feel like one of those housewives who is overjoyed by the fabulousness of her detergent. I hang my head in shame, 


  1. Hi Sarah,
    This is a bit of a generalisation, but most Fir trees have the flat needles laid along either side of the twig. Most Spruce trees have more round needles twirling round the twig. Pine trees have longer needles in clusters.
    Whose teenage/college years were very full of a variety of trees in the back woods of Maine. How I earned college money!

  2. This is why I like having friends smarter than I am. I looked at images of spruce cones and Sandy, you nailed it this is a depiction of spruce. Thank you!!


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