Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Vintage Decor for the Mantel

I'll be honest.  I sometimes wish I had one of those homes that Chip and JoAnna Gaines make-over on their show, the Fixer Upper.  I think I could really fall in love with all the vintage farm house elements that they put into so many of their homes. But, I'm not in Texas. I have a lovely home here in Alabama and its not an old farm house.
So, here's what I do.  I try to add some interesting elements to my home that appeal to my vintage soul. I just skip the whole tear down the walls, rip up the floor thing that Chip and JoAnna do. 
Today, I'm sharing with you the vintage items that I have arranged on the mantel in my family room.
The "star" of my mantel design is the lovely and chippy architectural piece that I recently acquired.  I love the size and the perfect scrolling curves.  Did you know the word "acquire" can sometimes mean you got something off a trash pile? :)

The "co-star" of my design is the vintage seltzer bottle.  You can read about how to use a bottle on a coffee table here.  This seltzer bottle came from the Plunderosa in Loxley, Alabama.  You can read about this antique trip here.
I layered my seltzer bottle and the architectural element
 with a piece of subway art that I often display on
 my mantel.  I made a few adjustments and 
then I was done!  I find adding vintage items
 to my home allows me to be to be creative and it is
 something I can do almost anytime that I have a few minutes.  

A tip I might pass on to you is to try several different vintage items in several different arrangements. Step back--leave it.  Then, just try to notice it as you continue with your day.  Give it a glance and you might be able to quickly tell if you like the way it looks or if it needs to be rearranged.  

Monday, May 18, 2015

How to Make a Vintage Button Pillow Cover

I love to change up the look of my pillows in our family room.  I have several down-filled pillows and I swap out the covers on them on a regular basis. 
Today, I'm going to share with you a way to make an interesting and fun pillow cover.  

Do any of you have one of these at your home?  You, know....an older sewing basket that belonged to an aunt or maybe your mom or your grandmother?  
I remember spending the night at my great-aunt's house and often on these nights, I would get her sewing basket (the larger one) and begin my regular practice of poking through it.  My usual activity was to take buttons out of the bottom of the basket and sort them.  I never was allowed to just dump the contents out---there were always a few stray needles somewhere in that basket and my aunt was fearful that a needle would get left out on the bed and she would roll over on to it in the night (aunts are more relaxed than moms, but they do have their limits, too). 

So, I've had my aunt's sewing basket in my guest room for the last 14 years.  Occasionally,  I would open it and stir my fingers through its contents....and sometimes, I would find with a finger, that stray needle that my aunt always feared!

Many of the buttons in her basket were white or off-white.
SO, right before Christmas, I decided I was going to sew a snowflake pattern with the buttons onto a linen cover.  I had the project lined-up to start in January.  I got the perfect linen cover at Hobby Lobby with my 40% off coupon.  It was easier and cheaper to buy one of their covers (in the drapery department) than to make it myself.
When it was time to design the snowflake, I decided I would be limiting the time that I could use the cover to just the winter months.  In Alabama, that can be a short time...or a long time.  You never can tell.  Anyway, I decided on a circle instead.

So here are the steps:
1.  Iron the cover on both sides.
2.  Draw your shape.  I tried the seamstress chalk, but it didn't show up well, so I used a pencil.  I'm not very fancy--I traced around the sewing basket lid to make my circle.
3.  I sorted through the buttons and pulled out the ones that I thought would be best for my project.  I hadn't sorted through those buttons in probably 45 years....but I still recognized many of my favorites among the collection.  It was like seeing old friends, again.
4.  I placed the buttons on a piece of craft paper that was almost the same color as the cover (a happy coincidence).  I had drawn a circle on the paper, too, so I would know about how much space I would need to allow between the buttons.
5.  I was content that I was going to have enough buttons to make a really pretty and meaningful pillow.
6.  I used a neutral-colored thread and began sewing the buttons on.  I decided to sew along the circle guidelines first and then fill in the circle.  Believe it or not, I got almost 2/3s of the buttons sewn on in just one night!
7.  At some point, I decided I would want to use some type of trim to outline the circle and hide any pencil marks that might be visible.
It was at this point that I decided to look back into the ever-present snarl that was always in the basket.  
Do you see what I saw?
YES! It was some tatting--the old-fashioned, hand-made lace.   
So, I carefully untangled the lace.  It was mostly just ensnared in thread that was easily cut away.  I held my breath and realized that I had two complete and perfect pieces of lace that were each over a yard long (I'm guessing that they might have been made for or used on pillow cases).  I ironed the lace and was delighted with my new treasure.  My Mom told me later that the tatting had been made by her grandmother!  
Final steps:
8.  Pin down your lace or trim.   I was thrilled that I didn't have to cut the beautiful lace--it was a great fit. 
9.  Lightly tack the lace to the pillow cover.

This last step is very important:
10.  DO NOT LET ANYONE USE THE NEW PILLOW!  Place it where you can see it and smile and remember the times you sorted buttons on the bed at your great-aunt's house. 

I hope you might make a pillow, too.  Maybe, you have some special buttons in a beautiful blue mason jar--waiting for you as it sits on a shelf or in a closet.  And of course, you don't even have to use old buttons!  You can make a beautiful pillow cover using new buttons, too. Just think of all the fun you can have using different colors and patterns.  Enjoy! 

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Sunday, May 17, 2015

Mother's Day Heritage Table

I hope you had a great Mother's Day!  I wanted to share with you the Heritage Table I created for my family when we ate together last Sunday. I decided that each family member would have a different piece of china that was from a woman in our family.  I used their now-vintage sterling and silver plate patterns, too.    AND, it was a surprise!!!  That's why I didn't share this idea with you BEFORE Mother's Day.  
Here's the reason I'm posting.....
I hope you might be able to use a few of these ideas to set up a Heritage Table for your family some day.  My family loved the surprise and the conversations we had about our family members were priceless.
Here's my daughter's place--set with china and sterling silver that had belonged to her
 great-grandmothers.  The china (a luncheon set) had been packed away in my Mom's utility room (probably for almost 20 years).  The box said, "Mother's wedding china."
  I'd never seen the china until a few months ago. 
My maternal grandmother on her wedding day in June of 1929.

My daughter ate with the sterling silver that 
belonged to my paternal grandmother pictured here. 
I used lovely linen napkins that we used
 at many meals at my great-aunt's home.  
I wrote the name of each relative on a card at each place
 (the top name for the china and the second name for the flatware).
A great-aunt's hand-painted Haviland china.
I used family pictures on the table and the butler's pantry.
I gathered other items and pictures where I served our dessert.
 I tried to include women that I knew very little information about--like I made my sweet sister-in-law's great-grandmother's pound cake recipe.  And, I was able to add
 a blue crocheted piece made by my husband's grandmother. 
I found this lovely sampler that my Mom made in THE ATTIC a few months ago 
(yes, more shameful attic storage).  
She said she made the sampler so she could
 use the frame that had belonged to her grandmother.

While I got dinner ready for the table, 
I served pepper jelly over cream
 cheese with crackers from this piece.
I took my whipped cream to the table in this old mixing bowl.  I wonder how many times my great-aunt, my mom or I made home-made whipped cream at my aunt's
 house in this humble bowl?  This is probably the first time it has ever made it 
to the table where guests-even family- could see it.

In all, items from eleven different ladies
 were on the table and server. 

I hope you'll try a few of my ideas.  You could use these ideas to celebrate Mother's Day, a birthday or even an anniversary.  I'll bet you have a few things around the house you could use along with a few pictures.  You'd be surprised how much joy you'll pass on to others--and in turn, receive yourself.