Old fashioned skills and a new dress

I was something of an odd kid. In elementary school the first section I would read in the Boston Globe was Confidential Chat, a reader driven column of recipes and home how tos. I have no idea what drove me to read advice about how to mend children's trousers, clean grimy shirt cuffs or recipes for bran muffins or how to use up the last bit in a shampoo bottle  but I was a loyal reader.

I was thinking about all of the hours I have put in reading that sort of home advice when I began to iron a linen table runner this morning. This particular table runner was among the first in my collection of old embroidered linens.

This particular table runner (and it's matching napkins) came from the home of Mary. Mary was the long time girl friend of my husband's Uncle Irving. When Mary died Irving inherited Mary's parents' Albany home and all of it's contents. Irving and Mary lived in Los Angeles. My in laws took care of clearing out the house and selling it.

We got Mary's parents' dining room table. We also got various linens including the griffon embroidered luncheon set. Mary smoked like a chimney. I guess her parents did too. Many of the linens have cigarette burns.
 I finally decided to repair the table runner.

I could have done the mend by machine. Instead i opted to do the mend by hand. As I worked bits of advice from Confidential Chat as well as all of the many many old sewing books I love to read kept chirping advice in my head. I didn't stretch the hole out of shape as I worked.  I thought about but rejected pieces of mending advice that  I have read over the years. I decided to go with what worked for me at the moment which was stitching a series of grids across the hole and then ending the process by weaving those grids together with my needle.

I suppose I could have done a tidier mend. But one of the things I have learned working with old textiles is that the best mends are those that work. My oldest and most precious linens have been mended very much like this one.

I am working on a piece that is very nearly done and I will share photos soon.

I also tended to a fabric that was itching to be made into a dress.

The dress makes me happy and now I can settle back down to work.

And lastly, a note to people who post comments. If you are a real human being who posts a real comment that is related to something you have read here, I will always publish your comment and will most often respond to that comment.

However if your comment includes code to drive business to your site, I will never publish your comment.

 If your comment is a listing of escort services in various cities around the world, it is not ever going to be published.


  1. That dress is a winner - love it!

  2. Thanks MAM!!! I feel like I won the dressmaking lottery with that dress. The big stripe across the bodice does all sorts of flattering things on and makes it look like the construction is way more complicated than it is.


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