Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Christmas greetings from The Antique Linen Cupboard

I have been so busy over the last few weeks that I haven't had time to update the blog.  All those linen lovers and crafters out there have been buying like fury - I'm not complaining however!  This little robin redbreast provided a flurry of bidding and was very well received when he reached his new owner.

Victorian embroidered monograms have also proved very popular. I know that some buyers incorporated them into cushions or bags and others have simply been framed for a simple but personal gift.

I have also sold lots of small embroidered floral scraps and narrow lace for use in christmas cards. Like Victorian Xmas greetings cards - too pretty to put in the recycling box when Xmas is over!

So finally, I hope that you all have a festive and merry Christmas and wish you a happy New Year!

Friday, 2 December 2011

A lovely day out ..and lots of new stock.

I had a lovely day on Wednesday. OK, so I had to set off at 7.15am to the depths of the countryside, sit in a very cold, draughty cattle market shed and then concentrate very hard on the "machine-gun" delivery of a sale by a cattle market auctioneer (if you have seen sheep or cattle being sold you will know what I mean!). Some of the locals who attend bring their own cushion, blanket, flask of coffee and sandwiches and have a day out ( sitting in a cold, leaky wooden shed for hours?) ...they are made of stern stuff in the Northumberland countryside.  But I bought some great textiles....quilts, linen sheets and pillowcases, damask cloths, lace, tapestries, blankets and embroidered tablecloths. There will be more but I haven't unloaded all the car yet!

A bit like this one but fortunately (given the weather in the North East) it all fits inside!

This is a sample of some of the quilts - very typical of the Victorian period and now very sought-after roses and paisley designs.

And superb hand stitched quilted designs - the hours of work involved is incredible.

At this auction the lots are all tied up very tightly into bundles so it is impossible to really view any of the items before buying. It is really like buying blind  but it does make it interesting when you get your purchases. Have I bought a bundle worth twice or three times what I paid for it?....or do I just have a lot more cleaning cloths!  (Let me tell you I need more cleaning cloths like a I need a hole in the head). So now to explore some more lots - fingers crossed these ones have some treasures amongst them!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Getting ready for (dare I say it?) Xmas!

 Every year I have to tidy up the "sitting" room so that it can be used for Xmas. From January to the end of November it is called the "linen" room and the chairs and sofas are hidden under piles of sheets, tablecloths, doilies and quilts. In fact, my husband forgot the colour one of the sofas as he hadn't seen it for months!  This means first of all trying to find the time to get as much as possible washed and ready for selling.  (I do have baskets like the ones below but I don't have a room this large unfortunately!)

                                      If only we had the weather to hang it all outside like they do in India!

Then the remainder is stashed under beds, in the attic and in the garage. One day I dream of having a garage that looks like...................

Instead of like................................(actually this is tidy compared to our garage)

However, the trip to the garage today did unearth a box of linens that I stashed away last year and forgot about. Inside was a quantity of long white linen surplices that will be ideal for a choir or even more seasonally as costume for the angels in the Nativity play!  So now, back to the washing machine and the ironing board!

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Expert needlework skills - embroidery everywhere!

Sales have started to pick up pace for Xmas. Every year, I resolve to be ready in good time for the buying season with lots of stock laundered and photographed...and every year is just as the last - me rushing around trying to cram 36 hours into 24! 
This year hand embroidery is very popular - more so I think than it has been for a long time.

This is a tablecloth currently selling and was bought along with others from a house in Northumberland.

By the same hand - expert needlework skills!

And Crinoline Ladies (or Southern Belles as they are called in the States) remain as popular as ever.

I have also bought this week a collection of hand embroidery tablecloths and napkins with a European flavour. Danish Hebedo embroidery, English whitework, Italian Reticella and Cyprus Lefkara work. 

Each corner and border motif has a different design infill

This one has the English Rose, Scottish Thistle and the Irish Shamrock in the design

 Ideal for the Xmas table or as gifts - now can I get them laundered, ironed and ready for selling in time?

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Exhibition of Vintage Costume & Textiles

An auction house in Yorkshire,Tennants,  is hosting an exhibition and sale of vintage costume and textiles. Whilst there are only a couple of the type of items that I buy to sell - quilts and Victorian whitewear - the catalogue has been a delight to look through.  This is loveliest quilt that I have seen for a long time

Too good surely to sleep under!

And this one is a fabulous example of an Elizabeth Sanderson Star quilt. Elizabeth Sanderson lived in the North of England and developed a school of professional quilt markers (called stampers) in the 19th century and many of these quilts survive especially her favourite design which was the eight pointed star. She was a pupil of George Gardiner of Allenheads who developed a reputation for marking out the patterns on to quilt tops. The quilts would then be sold and would be stitched by another person.  I have some Durham and patchwork quilts for sale at the moment but nothing as good as these!

The other lot which took my eye is not a textile or costume item but it is remarkable.

A perfectly proprtioned 1930's doll's kitchen room set. It is complete with dresser, table, chairs and the tiniest detail has been remembered - cheese grater, whisk and rolling pin! (Click on the photos to enlarge)

This exhibition is well worth a look if you are in the area.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Off to windy Scotland for linens!

Last week I went off to Scotland - Dundee - for an auction. Yes, I know it is a long way to go ...165 miles in fact.. but the catalogue showed a large number of lots of linen and the deciding factor was that one of my daughters goes to University there so I had a free bed for the night!

Dundee is a city known in the past for the three "J's" - Jam, Jute and Journalism. So maybe it is not surprising to find linens - in Victorian times it was renowned for it's textile mills - most of them now have been converted into student accomodation!

 Dundee is also known as the sunniest city in Scotland but I happened to make this trip on one of the windiest days of the year......

The turbines at the wind farms were whizzing around like toy windmills. I like the turbines..I think they have a sculptural look but I know that many people think they detract from the landscape.

So into the auction and it took me a good hour or more to look at all the linens..why do auctioneers insist on putting boxes of linens and textiles under tables, behind sofas so that it is a) hard to find them and b) hard on the knees to look at them.

The best lot was in two old trunks - they were full of unused sheets, pillowcases, damask tablecloths and napkins.

As you may be able to make out from the photos, a real mixed bag of textiles. Many of them from a Miss Campbell who, like the lady in the previous post, liked to leave notes to her family about who should have what  .... the family obviously didn't heed her words!

I have to say that the porters were very friendly and very helpful and carried everything out and packed them into the car for me.

Then the long drive back home to sort, wash, and take photos ready for selling. I love the point on the drive home from Scotland just after Carter Bar when, apart from the road that you are driving on, there is no evidence of human habitation - just hills, moors and maybe a sheep or two


Friday, 9 September 2011

More auction treasures.......

This week I bought a couple of boxes of textiles from a local auction - a real mixed lot! There were linen sheets, linen pillowcases, lace edgings, tablecloths, monogrammed towels and a bag with vintage clothing. What made it really interesting was that in the past someone (I assume a woman as I can't imagine a man doing this!) wrote little notes about many of the items and slipped them inside the linens. So in the clothing bag were two beautiful silk shawls below............................... this red one

........and this cream shawl with butterflies and flowers hand embroidered across the whole shawl.

                                                   There was also a hand worked lace collar

With an accompanying note to say that the collar had been worn by "my mother on her going away dress Aug 1902"

There was also a gorgeous silk camisole or chemise that had a note to say that it was part of the same lady's going away clothes. The camisole is all hand stitched.

The sheets had notes to say that they were embroidered by Auntie Tilly Donkin and then suggested that they be given to one of the boys in the family if they "managed" to find a wife. Obviously, they couldn't be trusted to look after the sheets without a wife! And presumably, they never found a wife (or at least one who wanted to inherit the linen sheets).  There are more treasures in these boxes to come to light yet .. and more notes!

Friday, 26 August 2011

Scrap bag embroidery and lots of antique lace

I buy most of my linens at auction and as with all bulk purchases of antique and vintage linens it is inevitable that there will be tablecloths and other textiles with some damage. And I am incapable of throwing away damaged items if they are nicely embroidered or have pretty lace. For a number of years I have kept several embroidered "patches" in the hope that one day I will find time to do something with them! I had harboured the grand idea of a patchwork quilt with every other patch having an embroidered motif. However, I have decided to cull the stash........hence the new listings on eBay of "Scrap bag collections" of embroidered patches and lengths of lace.

Most of the embroidery squares are relatively small  but ideal to mount as a greeting card or in a lavender heart.  Lace and broderie anglais trim makes a pretty addition too.

This is a photo of a lavender heart sent to me by a buyer of some of the fabrics - if you make anything from my scrap bag collections send me a photo and let me show it on here to inspire everyone else!