While cleaning out some boxes in our basement this holiday season, I came across one with “vintage clothing” inside. That’s what you call anything worn in the 60s or 70s. It sounds much fancier than “old clothes”.
At the top of the box was a red Christmas jumper; it was one of two identical dresses ordered from The Sear and Robuck catalogue for my sister and me to wear on Christmas Sunday, I’m guessing, in about 1970 or so. Sidenote: Did you know that you can look at old Sear and Robuck Wishbooks online? Check this out and plan to spend a few hours there http://wishbookweb.com/ You will soon discover that plaid was a big thing then.
Even for boys. Gotta love the Toughsins. We all had ’em.
Now back to my project…
While still in fairly good condition, the fabric on the bodice of the dress was degrading and as result, it was shedding copious amounts of red dust on everything it touched.
Because of the mess, I was tempted to toss the garment right into the trash, but the plaid fabric was in such good shape that I hesitated for a moment or two. I LOVE plaid and while I’m unsure of the fabric content because all of the labels had faded, it was most likely a polyester of some kind. The woven fabric was in excellent condition and caused such sweet memories to tumble through my head. Was that the year that I wanted an autoharp for Christmas? I think it was.
Obviously, there were too many wonderful memories tied up in that dress to simply throw it away. So here’s what I did…
Step one: Salvage the fabric.
Using my seam ripper, I got busy separating the skirt from the bodice.
This was a little fiddly and messy but easily accomplished while listening to Christmas music and having a cup of tea.
Then I gave that skirt a nice bath.
Again, unsure of the fabric content, I used a mild detergent in cool water and allowed it to sit for a bit.
I carefully rinsed the fabric and rolled it up in a fluffy towel to absorb most of the excess water. Then I hung it on the rack to dry.
Step number two: Give that fabric remnant a new life.
Now clean and dry, I carefully pressed the plaid fabric with a medium-hot iron to steam out wrinkles and open up the old hem, which promptly came out with a pull on the line of stitching.
There was enough usable fabric for a small pillow or a doll blanket, which would have been equally endearing, but I quickly decided upon a table runner because of its obviously long and skinny shape. Perfect.
Following the lines of the woven plaid, I trimmed the fabric to its maximum length and width following the straight of the grain. Then I serged the edges with the serger to keep them from unraveling. Back at the ironing board, I turned in about 1/2 inch along all edges and mitered the corners, pinning them in place. A straight line of stitching with white thread secured each edge. Small lengths of red pom pom trim on each end provided the finishing touch!
Step three: Enjoy!
The table runner now sits on my farmhouse table under a piece of wood that was once part of my grandmother’s quilting frame. Fat candles in thick, seeded-glass holders line up on top. There is so much sentiment and satisfaction in that simple centerpiece, now completed with the addition of the plaid runner. I may trek out into the woods for a few sprigs of cedar, too.
I think I love it.