Friday, 17 June 2011

Fairy Band-Aids

I have an old linen table cloth that is past its best, frayed around the borders with holes worn in.  I’m not certain, but I believe it belonged to my first mother-in-law, who lived in Crown Heights and had nice things.  She was always kind to me, but died only three months after I joined her family.  I’ve kept the table cloth, not because it belonged to her but because it was beautiful fabric. 

For a while I worked on mended it with bits of other white fabrics.  I cut and sewed stars and hearts from organza and tulle and patched holes and worn bits.  My whimsical thinking was to ‘fairy band-aids’ to strength the cloth but not necessarily to hide the honourable signs of wear.  After years of washing the material has a wonderful hand and I refuse to turn it into rags just because of a few flaws.

It reminded me of an acquaintance I quite admired named Blanche.  She was an English teacher from Texas who talked about growing up in the South in a poor but proud family.  Their linen napkins might be patched, but they still had linen napkins.  It’s the sort of thing my Mom would have understood perfectly.

 Strangely enough, I was in the attic one day looking for something when I found a plastic bag full of folded white cloth.  It had more texture than sheets but as my hands were dusty I didn't dare touch.  I took it downstairs for further investigation.  It turned out to be three very large table cloths that Bill believes may have been his grandmother’s.  In perfect condition,  they make my raggedly old table cloth redundant and so I’ve stopped applying fairy band-aids for now.  I may try making it into a soft summer shirt, with some strategic embroidery or appliqué. 

What do you do with beautiful old cloth?

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