My Vintage Draped Tent

Summer, for me, is “spring cleaning” time.  I finally get around to those packed closets, cabinets, and yes – even the basement.  Treasures (and let’s be real – some trash – ok, more trash than treasures) lurk in every crevice.  One of my “finds” was a forgotten bag of real treasures – some vintage linens I acquired on a particularly productive garage sale excursion.  I had actually forgotten all about my lovely, if somewhat smelly, jewels, and it was like Christmas all over again when I unearthed the bag.  My husband took one glance and asked what I was going to do with them.  I don’t know.  But isn’t that the point of pretty things, soft linens, brightly embroidered napkins – that they don’t necessarily have a necessity of purpose, but rather that they exist just to please the eye, to lighten the spirit.  Much like the quilts we make now – we make them because…..because we can, because they are pretty, fun, tickle the eye and please the soul.  But more so when they are clean, not smelling of time and mildew.

Atlanta has been feeling the heat, along with almost all other areas of the country, so I decided to rescue these linens.  After diligent research on the web, I found what looked to be a fail-proof cleaning formula.  So, taking advantage of the sunny, hot days, I gathered my supplies and starting the long soak-rinse-soak-rinse process.  Ok – so I rushed it a bit.  I didn’t soak as long as you were supposed to.  But the water was pretty dirty, and I wanted to see how clean they came…..but anyway, I soaked and I rinsed.  Pretty much 90% success.  I am a bit impatient (hence the rushing), and didn’t thoroughly test the color fastness of each item, so two flour sacks are less than vibrant now, but otherwise, all is good.  Or at least better than it was.  Which was the point of all the soaking and rinsing.

In fact, my deck has momentarily been transformed into a kind of vintagey tent, with all the lovely, fresh smelling (mostly white) linens hanging from hangers on the rungs of the canopy.  Kind of a vintage textile version of a harem tent.  Minus the harem.  Or a modern version of the clothes line.  They sway with the breeze, twist and turn like coy maidens, flashing glimpses of bright embroidery and delicate trim.  And it makes me wonder at all the time and care that went into each stitch.  What were those women like that plied their needles so adeptly?  Did they sit in gentle breezes on front porches, listening to the birds chirp as they do now, creating blooms on cloth while babies dozed?  Were these dresser scarves and napkins and aprons passed down from mother to daughter?  How did they end up in my hands?  And will someone, some day, look at the quilts and hangings, and other stitchery I’ve created wonder about me one day?  Will my treasures pass down from generation to generation, from family to friend to admiring stranger?  I hope so.  And if not – well, I’ll sit in my vintage draped tent, listen to the birds, dream of new projects, and smile at all the lovely linens around me.  And life is good.

Tammy Silvers

Outside the Line Designs,

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