Sunday, March 23, 2014

Vintage Linens

 Vintage Linens

 Sometimes “New” is not always “Improved”. Gone are the days of shopping at W.T. Grants, the local five and dime stores that carried everything you needed for your home.

 Notions departments, Domestics or Linen departments were well stocked with a vast assortment to choose from and all at very affordable prices.

Linens were made in mills right here in the USA. Housewives in the 1950’s had a ritual of changing curtains, linens, dresser scarves, doilies with the seasons. They had so many choices of colors, fabrics and styles.

Now we have the big stores, the Walmarts, Targets ect., who have pared down our choices of items to purchase , stocking only what they perceive as a fast turnover, items made overseas and cheaply made.

Below are some examples of items that have never gone out of style or usefulness. Items that help us “Go Green” with little effort, that give a big value for the money and if you know where to look can be easy to find.

1. Linen, damask or cotton hand towels. Trimmed with lace, tatting, embroidered, monogrammed, plain , woven or stamped with an all over design. These versatile towels can be for the kitchen or the bath. These vintage kitchen towels dry dishes faster, are lintfree for glasses, dry fast, can be bleached and make a pretty decorating statement and wear well.  Collecting colorful souvenir towels, many are made out Irish linen, the best wearing fabric makes drying dishes a trip down Memory Lane remembering favorite trips and places. 1950’s bright coloful florals make any kitchen cheerful.

Linen Hand Towels

 Towels for the bath with pretty embroidery, lace trims, appliques, add color and decorating excitement to the bath. Fingertip towels for your guest bath is a special touch, they dry fast, you can display several, each guest can feel like they are using a towel just for them, not one the whole family has used for a week. Fabric instead of paper, a green alternative.

2. Hankies, yes those delicate little squares of fabric. They come in all colors, embellished like little works of art. Cotton, linen whatever your favorite. Monogrammed, decorated with flowers, crocheted or tatted edges, enbroidered, the styles are endless.
Forget the kleenexs crumbling and shredding in your purse or pockets, collecting lint so you can’t remember if it is clean or used. One pretty hanky can be quickly retrieved when a sneeze is coming on or a tear starts to fall. It can be washed and used over and over again. I even put one in my jeans pocket, they are small and dainty and just have a corner peeking out over the top of the pocket, making a little fashion statement. It’s a perfect little gift to give someone for an occassion like a wedding or a “just because” thinking of you little gift. Beautiful white or ivory trimmed with lace hankies just what every brides needs and teary eyed guests too. In my bookshop I suggest a pretty hanky with every sappy romance novel bought. Or with a book , tucked inside like a book marker. A hankie can be mailed inside a greeting card as a little token gift. Start carrying one with you and you will be going green and enjoying one of these little pieces of textile art and never go back to messy wasteful tissues again.

3. Aprons. So practical and so much fun. I know we are not wearing pearls and high heels around the house like June Cleaver in the 1950’s show. We are working girls, rushing home from work trying to get dinner on the table and family activities taken care of. Aprons had a very practical use, protecting one’s clothes while in the kitchen. What thoroughly modern gal has downtime after work to change out of her work attire and into casual before preparing dinner? Many have to rush out the door after dinner with kid’s activities, social meetings ect and need to stay properly attired to go out again. Grab a handy apron and start your frying pans.

 Aprons were a daily attire for past generations, they were washable, had 2 pockets for all kinds of stuff, came in handy for a quick dusting, wiping when unexpected guests arrived, gathering eggs or produce from the garden, there were so many handy uses for them. Bet they always had a hanky in one of those pockets for wiping a teary eyed child’s face. There were sturdy ones for everyday, Sunday dinner fancy ones and holiday themed ones. Usually made with leftover pieces of fabric trimmed with whatever embellishments that were in the sewing basket or purchased at the five and dime. In our busy lives these little works of textile art can save a beautiful designer outfit from a splash of spagetti sauce any day. My cousins and I even had an apron themed family reunion, each gal was given an apron that reflected her personality when she arrived, we called ourselves the Apron Sisterhood. No one took theirs off till the end of the party, they just felt so comfortable wearing and they certainly did their job protecting our clothes and keeping cellphones and stuff in the pockets. We have great photos and memories and a souvenir apron to keep.
4. Dresser Scarves and Doilies. What an assortment the previous generations had to choose from at the linen department. All types of fabrics, trims, embellishments, whatever your decorating style there was one for you. 
Crocheted Runner Mat Dresser Scarf
Try to find a dresser scarf now in Walmart or Target. No way. thrifty housewives would buy plain linen and then iron on a transfer pattern and the embroider the design or do cross-stitching to make it their own creation. I remember the magazine called “Workbasket” ( we sell lots of this vintage handcraft magazine in our shop now) would come every month and have a pull-out iron on transfer for you to use. In this economy where many purchases of new furniture are being put-off , redecorating being done on a limited budget, what better way to protect your furniture, cover up a well worn dresser top or just change your color fabric accessories is to use dresser scarves or doilies. Before you slide that brass lamp across the beautiful finish of your furniture consider protecting it with one of these cloths, whether plain linen, embroidered, lace or colorful floral it does double duty decorating and protecting. Washable, inexpensive and so practical. Pretty lace doilies look great under a glass top. The glass protects the furniture top from sweating glasses of water, nailpolish anything that mars the finish or could spill. 

Okay we brought to everyone mind these great little inventions from the past, things that we grew up with and took for granted. Now that we are “Big Girls” with homes of our own, we realize that Mom had some great ideas, why did we not follow her example? She was saving and Going Green with these 4 handy items long before it was fashionable. Okay you see now the usefulness of them but where do you find them? The big stores aren’t going to have them, certainly not a selection of any of them or the durable fabrics, the pretty details and best of all, made in the USA. Well here is the fun part. Visit your nearest antique and collectibles shop, find a dealer who specializes in vintage linens. They are not expensive, easy to find and fun to collect. One of my shops is just filled with linens from yesterday, I stock racks full of dresser scarves, tablecloths, shelves full of towels, baskets with hundreds of doilies. I am a “Linen Lady”. Completely hooked and in love wih the handwork of my mother’s and grandmother’s generations. I rescue, wash, iron , stitch and put up for adoption these little works of textile art. Damaged pieces are redesigned, maybe cut up made into new things, trims saved, pretty pieces framed as wall art but never ever thrown away till all uses are exhausted. Even worn-out old linen has a new life as the softest gentlest dustcloths ever. Handcrafted items are a direct link to the person whose hands toiled for hours creating these pieces made with love for her special family. Maybe you will want to try your hand at creating your future family heirlooms. What granddaughter wouldn’t love having her Gram’s apron?

For more vintage linens and textiles please visit our Vintage Linens and Textiles For Sale page at


About the Author

 Carole Romano is a member of GVS and has graciously allowed us to republish her blog. For more wonderful posts please visit her blog at She also sells online at Lavender Path Antiques on Etsy. If you are lucky enough to be in Harwinton, Connecticut be sure to stop by her antique store Lavender Path Antiques and Books.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Betty Crocker Award

How About a Betty Crocker Award?

When my children were growing up, we had a silly banter that would be bounced around the kitchen at dinner time.  ”Good Dinner Mom, you can keep your Betty Crocker award”.  Little did I or they know that there actually was a “Betty Crocker” award.

170The award started sometime in the  1940′s or 50′s as far as I can tell and was actually awarded by General Mills.
I recently found a  Betty Crocker Award Pin in a box of jewelry I purchased.  I didn’t think much about it until after Tom took pictures and I prepared to list it.  I started to do some searching and came up with some sketchy information, mostly from some posts on Pinterest.  I listed the pin in my shop on Etsy and was very pleasantly surprised when a fellow Etsian Laura Fisher, responded to my listing with the following information, (used here with her permission)

“I recognized this immediately. I was the Betty Crocker Family Leader of Tomorrow at my high school in 1975. I started high school in 1971 and that was the name of the award program then. Betty Crocker had changed the program to be more unisex and modern so this pin is much older than the 1970s. My award was a small silver charm with the hearth symbol on it.
High schools who want to participate give a test on a specific day to students who are interested. The highest score on the test wins for the school and some of those students go on to compete for scholarships. Although I was a winner from my school, I did not advance in the competition so I don’t know anything about that.
At this point, I asked permission to use the information she had shared.  ”Of course it’s OK! We learn about history through stories about things. I was a science and math student mostly and it was a shock when I won. I’m really proud of it actually. It was like an affirmation that I had a handle on living in the real world. The test questions weren’t about perfect cakes. I remember being tested on home health and safety, personal finances and economics, home and possession maintenance and upkeep.
I felt almost guilty to beat the girls who took eight semester of home economics. There were two groups of us taking the test. The home eccies and the honor students trolling for every dime of scholarship money we could get. This was during a time when college funds were tough to come by and the Betty Crocker scholarship was one of the most prominent awards that was available. By 1975, when I took the test it was evenly divided between male and female students and home ec students were in minority of test takers.
I sometimes wear my charm as a necklace and still think it’s one of the more interesting little known facts about me. And, hahaha, I sometimes threaten myself with revoking it when I do something stupid around the house.
And…as I started to share earlier…”The Betty Crocker Award” is still prized by many recipients I’m sure.  And, I still get a thrill when my 45 year old son says to me…”Mom, you get to keep your Betty Crocker Award”…

About the Author
Carolyn O'Bayley is one of the founders and administrators of Got Vintage Shops. She and her husband Tom have two wonderful shops:
COBAYLEY their own stand alone site and COBAYLEY on Etsy
True Vintage, Only Vintage, that's what COBAYLEY sells. Vintage jewelry,accessories,silver,vanity and dresser items, textiles, mid century modern, retro, fun, funky and all things old and interesting. We are adding new items almost daily. Stop by either shop to see what treasures you will find...

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Vintage Fabrics Steiger

Discovering Harwood Steiger

One of the best parts of being a thrifter or vintage seller is the education you receive. Discovering an item and then returning home to see what can be uncovered about its past is intriguing!


Take for example, this piece of fabric.


Having a title and a signature makes research a lot easier.

I got on the computer that night and learned that the signature on my fabric belonged to Harwood Steiger, a mid-century silkscreen artist who worked out of a studio in Tubac, AZ for about 30 years.

And then I learned how prolific he was as a designer.
Squash Blossom                                                       Owls                                           Summer Rain                                                     
I came across a blog by a woman, Cynthia deVillemarette, who is writing a book about Steiger.

She says in her blog that Steiger designs were produced in 3 categories: 

Desert Table Cloth

 Table linens such as this example,

...dress panels such as the one shown below, and fabric yardage.
Saguaro Dress Panel

Steiger's designs are usually based on nature, particularly scenes from the Southwest however he did work on some mid century abstract designs as well.

From the blog:
"Harwood Steiger textiles became enormously popular with visitors traveling through Tubac.  Because of that, examples are being discovered from as far away as Canada.  They were no less popular with locals, as well. A recent trip to Tubac turned up nearly 100 examples held by local residents all these years.  The colors remain bright, almost as if only printed yesterday.

Harwood Steiger textiles remain popular today and are prized among collectors of fabric.  The cactus, roadrunners, quails, and botanical subjects of his desert designs are quintessential Harwood Steiger.  Less easily recognized are the wonderful abstracts, tropicals and Aztec designs, which are non-the-less wonderful."

Courting in the Cholla
This is just the tip of the iceberg. Steiger's designs number in the hundreds. The research on this was fascinating and I'm definitely keeping my eyes open for more Harwood Steiger fabric.

All images are the property of Cynthia deVillemarette and are used with permission. 

About the Author
Shannon Paasch is an active member of Got Vintage Shops. She owns and operates two shops on Etsy.

An eclectic mix of mid century modern, farmhouse chic, industrial and a bit of kitsch.
 -and- for all your ephemera needs.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Valentine's Day Gift Ideas for Men

A Vintage Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is the perfect time to celebrate romance. Start planning now to create a truly memorable day.

Candy is a traditional gift and although much appreciated it can be a little, well unimaginative.


Heisey Lariat Candy Jar

Go beyond the expected heart shaped box and put your sweet offerings in a beautiful candy jar!

The chocolates may disappear quickly but your thoughtfulness will be remembered all year.
Filling this beautiful Heisey Candy Jar with Hershey's kisses might get you lots of kisses in return ♥

A lovely covered candy dish filled with conversation hearts is a sweet (and inexpensive) way to tell her you love her ♥

Tell your Valentine she's delicious by putting some gourmet's chocolates in this beautiful container. Milk glass and chocolate, what could be better? 

We hope we have given you some ideas for making this Valentine's Day extra special.  Please visit our Vintage For Sale pages for even more ideas. Here is the link to get you started
We also have a Valentine's Day Pinterest board to inspire you -

About the Author
Karen Mantone-Pillar is one of the founders and administrators of Got Vintage Shops. She currently owns and operates two online shops; Charmings Collectibles on Etsy, and a stand alone web store