Well, I’m not getting much thinking done in my ‘time out’, but I am having a bit of a rest, which is good.  I was fortunate enough to acquire several pieces of antique silk this week, some of it from the eighteenth century, mostly brocade and damask.  The silk arrived smelling of mothballs, and a little stiff with dirt and grime, but – oh, what gloriousness… hand stitched seams, patched, darned, worn away by loving hands, holes made by moths and wear – the marks of time, and evidence of a long and happy life.  I know opinion is divided on the restoration of old textiles, but here’s what I did… I took a very deep breath and washed it.  And do you know what happened?  The piece I thought was brown turned out to be the most beautiful pale olive green and yellow.  The piece I thought was grey turned out to be cornflower blue.  And the piece that seemed beige turned out to be the brightest possible apricot pink.  Astonishing.  I figured that since I’m keeping these for my own pleasure, and not for their value – I never intend to sell them – it didn’t matter whether I ‘devalued’ them by washing.

Hand hemming (above) on a patched fragment that looks like it was made for the canopy of a bed:
This little fragment (above) looks as if it might be hand embroidered with silk thread
Hand stitched seam (with red thread!) on this vibrant green
Part of some sort of garment?  There are hooks along the left hand edge; the backing is hand stitched in place

What treasure, and what good fortune was mine.  Possibly more of this later in the week.  I have some recently acquired antique lace too, which is equally captivating.

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14 Responses to Old

  1. @home says:

    What a treat, you must be so happy with these newly acquired bits of fabric, I know I would be.

  2. Judy Whaites says:

    Exquisite pieces, it's wonderful you have breathed new life into some forgotton past.

  3. arlee says:

    gorgeous pieces of the past–and good for you diving in to wash–what good are they to anyone if grizky?

  4. deanna7trees says:

    how beautiful. I would have washed them as well. a wonderful acquisition.

  5. sweetypie says:

    ooh treasure indeed lucky,lucky thing

  6. Barbara says:

    What treasure indeed Karen, (super pics) and how fortunate that they are now in appreciative and creative hands. It has given me an idea re. a couple of very tattered quilts in my cupboard – would that be anything you might be interested in??

  7. Kaite says:

    such beautiful silk remnants, i agree with the washing, i would have done it too and what a surprise that the colours changed so much. I'll bet the water was phew…thanks for sharing…k.

  8. beth says:

    how do you go about acquiring things like that? Beautiful.

  9. look how vibrant they are!!!!

  10. Sweetpea says:

    …brave…oh yes you were…most definitely. I would have wanted to but honestly, don't know if I would have or not (depending on the source).Although never intending to sell them, I cannot fathom that you will not stitch them into something even more than they are as bits & pieces.They are in good hands.

  11. Karen Turner says:

    grizky is such a great word, Arlee – and exactly what they were: slightly sticky, slightly grimy… Kaite, I wish I'd taken a picture of the water – think kind of 'stagnant pond'… and Grace, unbelievably vibrant. I did nothing to alter the colour of the photos. It amazes me.

  12. maggi says:

    I'm so glad that you revealed the beautiful colours. There is a limit to what we should keep from the past and in my opinion grime is not one of them.

  13. Deborah says:

    Glorious fabrics!

  14. silkenwind says:

    Don't you just love the stories that the old fabrics hold in their folds and tears and ancient seams? They write a bookk for sure.

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