Tag Archives: treasure

Trash Day Treasure

6 Jun

Today is trash day in my neighborhood. Somebody threw away THIS:

Spike checking out my new chair

I don’t normally take other people’s trash but if I didn’t take this chair one of the many scavengers that troll the neighborhood on trash day surely would have snagged it. Despite the hideous faux-damask spill-proof vinyl upholstery, I immediately saw the possibilities for this chair. The early Sixties Mid-Century-Modern chair frame just screamed “Reupholster me!” The solid-wood frame is sturdy and the padding is still firm. It’s actually very comfortable. All it needs is new fabric.

Vinyl damask?

I don’t have to buy new fabric for it because I’ve got a large stash of fabric that I was saving to make pillow covers with – one of many crafty projects I’ve been meaning to take on but haven’t gotten around to yet. I’ve been looking at blogs, Pinterest, and YouTube for tutorials on DIY reupholstery to get some much-needed guidance.

I’m going to use this chair to go with my desk – a Paul McCobb Planner desk that I scored in an antique shop in Essex for way less than what Paul McCobb would usually go for anywhere else except coastal New England. It had already been painted white, so I didn’t feel guilty about giving it a fresh coat of high-gloss white paint. I can paint this chair white without guilt too.

I’m looking forward to my first attempt at DIY reupholstery. It will give me a chance to break out my seldom-used sewing machine. If it turns out well, I might scour my neighborhood more on trash day in search of reupholstery projects.


Yard Sale Treasure

22 May

Last weekend I was walking through town when I saw a sign for a yard sale. Normally I would have kept walking if it were out of my way, but when I saw the address of this particular sale I made a beeline for it. Why? Because it was on the oldest, most historic (i.e. most expensive) street in my little New England town. I was surprised that someone living on that street would need to have a yard sale, but I guess stuff accumulates no matter how well off one is.

To my disappointment, most of the stuff was typical yard sale junk: old CDs, VHS tapes, books, and oddly enough, several pairs of rollerblades. I don’t know what I was expecting: Federal style candelabras, perhaps? But as I turned to leave, I spotted an old quilt. It was serendipity, as I had been planning to make my own quilt. Even though I have never quilted before, I had been inspired at a local quilt show I attended a couple of weeks ago to make my own quilt, using reproduction fabrics. When I saw this quilt at the yard sale, I immediately thought of the time and money I would now save not having to make my own. I asked the woman running the yard sale how much she was asking for the quilt. Her price? A mere 5 bucks! I gave her the cash and immediately walked home with my treasure.

When I got home, I examined the quilt more closely (in another life I was a costume and textile curator for a small museum, so I have some experience with antique quilts, though I’m not specifically a quilt expert). The quilt I bought is completely hand-sewn and hand-quilted, which most likely would make it 19th century (the sewing machine was invented in 1845 though many women continued to sew by hand for many years after). In addition, the fabrics used in it look to date from the 19th century. The colors range from the muted browns and turkey reds popular before synthetic aniline dyes were invented, to more vibrant colors that could be synthetic. The prints range from delicate roller-printed fabrics from the mid-19th century to bold prints showing a Japanese influence that could date from the last quarter of the 19th century.

The red, white and black fabric is chibori, a Japanese form of tie-dying which involves tying fabric around the head of a nail to get that distinctive dot in the center.

The “turkey red” color is usually the first to deteriorate because the cotton thread is dyed before it’s spun into cloth, a process that is hard on the fabric

The backing fabric showing the hand-stitched top quilting

Detail of backing fabric. The tiny sprigs of flowers over a stippled background are typical of 1840s roller-printed cottons.

Getting a quilt for my bed is a major step in redecorating my bedroom. I moved from an apartment to a condo a year and a half ago and my bedroom is still a work in progress. Right now the walls are white, but I’m thinking of painting them an ocean blue. And I’d like to get an antique-looking white metal bed to replace my West Elm headboard. I think quilts look so great on cast iron beds. And then I need a rug, and some curtains…