Linen and Lace

I picked up a flier recently at one of my local op shop haunts for their annual Linen and Lace sale. I'd seen these advertised before, but hadn't ever gotten around to going...until last Friday.

I ambled up to the door with Arch in tow at 9am (pays to be on time, I thought). Actually it pays to be early, as it turned out the doors had opened some minutes earlier. Inside and up the stairs was an octogenarians fuelled frenzy of fabric fervour, lacy longing and sewing sensationalism as the doyennes of doilies oversaw the heaving masses in one hot under- ventilated room. There were hoards of women, of which I was under the average age by at least two decades. I surveyed the crowd. I felt good. I felt I had a natural edge. I also couldn't coax Arch up the stairs in to the fray, so I left him downstairs with the toys.

My photo doesn't do it justice - there was actually about twenty women fighting over lace and ribbons behind me.
I could see I had gained access to vintage fabric heaven. Yikes.

There were racks of table cloths of all sizes and fabrics. Win! I'm always looking for good quality and attractive cloths for the table. Here the choice was vast: round, rectangle, square, plain, coloured, patterned, gaudy and classy. I got caught up in the damasks but there were so many to choose from I was getting overwhelmed. I moved on, unable to concentrate on one thing. 

"What about this one?" I heard one woman who looked uncannily like my Mum ask of a much older woman (her Mum?) standing next to her. The older woman glanced at the tablecloth being held up for her perusal. "Machine made!" She sniffed. Her scorn obvious.


I grabbed a gorgeous cream cloth with pale blue stitching and cut out patterns which I'm sure there's an official word for. I don't know what it is.

Was it machine made? I couldn't tell. It was only $15 so I tucked it under my arm and kept moving.

I found a large basket of pure linen vintage tea towels. The weighty woven fabric and vibrant colours in pristine condition were fantastic. Check out Pinterest for the fabulous things that can be done with them,  like bunting, or cushion covers, clothes or even upholstery.

Mine will probably end up stuffed in a drawer, but that didn't stop me rifling through. I found a few treasures.

Against the wall were long shelves covered in doilies and napkins, runners and piles of gorgeous embroidered bits and pieces. This was where the bun fight was really on for young and old. Mostly old. I wasn't up to it. I grabbed a few small pieces and dropped back. I couldn't keep up the pace.

Here's what I found. A lady told me what this stitching is called and even the name of this fabric. There was no time to write it down. Now I've forgotten. Still, it's adorable, isn't it!

"What do you do with them?" I asked another lady next to me whose ample arms were loaded with beautiful pieces. She appeared to have nabbed some of the best embroidery, flowers and leaves in vibrant hues spilled out from her stash. I couldn't help but admire her achievement.
"Oh I give them to friends, I put things on them around my house. I just love them!" Her enthusiasm was genuine and sort of touching.
I smiled and moved on.
"How long did it used to take?" I heard someone quizzing a beautifully dressed elderly woman who appeared to be overseeing the embroidery shelves in the manner of a hospital matron, but more serious. "Oh we used to work on the train to and from work", she said. "It depended how fast and good at it you were as to how much you got done."  I got the feeling this woman would have had no trouble producing exquisite pieces without any trouble at all.
I bravely stepped forward with my own question. "How can you tell good damask from bad?" It seemed a reasonable question, but I'm 99.9% sure I saw her roll her heavily made up eyes. "Damask is always beautiful." She exclaimed. "Beautiful quality and hard wearing on any table." Then she seemed to take pity on me. "All the cloths here are good, we've culled out the worn ones. Just remember to take it off the line when it's still damp to iron out. Then it will really look lovely."
Good advice I'm sure. I realized later I'd really meant to ask how you could tell good old damask from perhaps the cheaper newer fabric. But anyway, I made my way back to the tablecloth rack and grabbed a glistening white 230cm cloth that had 12 matching napkins pinned to it. $30! Win!
close up of the damask
Then those words every mother longs to hear rang across the room. Not. "Has anyone lost a little boy?"
Doh. I tried to see my watch but my arms were too full. How long had I been up here anyway?
"He'd be mine" I said, dumping my pile into a shopping basket being helpfully held out to me at the door as I made my way back down the stairs to where a concerned posse of grandmas were surrounding a non-plussed looking Arch. I could sense a judgemental vibe so fixing my eyes on his golden head I announced brightly, "He wasn't interested in vintage damask so I left him down here with the toys!"
Scooping Arch up with mumbled thanks, I made our way quickly back upstairs to the fray. My basket was handed back to me and I had one last rifle through a button basket before calling it quits.
Here's what I ended up with when we arrived home.
Loving that pink doily by the way (Why did I only buy one? Why? Why?). It is so sweet.
And here's my fabulous quirky find from the depths of the button basket! Hoping no deers had to die to make these buttons....but um, obviously, they might have. Oh dear (Sorry, just had to put that in. Sad I know.)
I am trying not to love them, though they are super soft and really amazing and quirky and ...  
Bambi RIP.

Not that it makes up for it really, but judging from the card and original price tag, the deer's demise happened a long time ago. They are vintage dead deer buttons.
Does that make it any better?

Anyway, can't wait until next year's sale now!
The annual Lace and Linen event is definitely a must-attend!


  1. OH MY EVERLOVING GOODNESS! How could this happen without me? Where was it? Next year can I just give you some money to shop for me?

    1. I was thinking of you the whole time dear one! You would have swooned in the doorway if you'd been there, and like me, felt like wailing at all the missed opportunities prior to this one! Epping Vinnies was the venue. You have a year to save your plane fare, otherwise yes, I'll buy on your behalf next year for sure.
      I bought a fab blanket today and thought of you again! Will post a pic on FB.
      love sbdx


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