Saturday, July 24, 2010
Chloe's Vintage Pillowcase Ensemble from 'Hazel's' Pillowcase
This little 12-18 month ensemble was one of the three sets I made to sell just before school let out for the summer. I was thrilled when one of my co-workers purchased it to give to Kaye (the expecting Pre-K teacher) for baby Chloe (due next month). I used one of a set of pillowcases that I found in an Antique Mall in downtown St. Petersburg several years ago. The cases were snowy white and I don't think they had ever been used!
Just look at that beautiful crochet work and the hemstitching in purple! The crochet work extends all the way around to the back of the case. The fabric is a great cotton. Some wonderful needle artist did that gorgeous work years ago and no one used it! What a waste! As I worked on turning this into a little outfit that will be used and enjoyed, I thought about this unknown woman and blessed her for having made something so beautiful. I also thought of my maternal grandmother who knit, crocheted and tatted the most fantastic things. I decided to give this lady a name: Hazel, after my grandmother's original name. (My grandmother changed her name in the 1920's to Elizabeth!)
So here's my made-up story about Hazel and the pillowcases:
Hazel was born in 1915 and loved to do the hand work that her mother and grandmother taught her. She even enjoyed sewing the hems in her five brothers work pants and embroidering the monograms on their vests and large handkerchiefs. When the necessary work was complete, she would work on the items for her hope chest. She made lovely edged pillowcases, sheets, table runners, and even embroidered tablecloths and napkins!
Hazel fell in love with Tom, the boy next door, when she was 16 but had to wait until she was 26 (gasp!) to marry because times were so hard and work was scarce. As the eldest child in his family, Tom quit high school to do odd jobs so that he could help his family out. He eventually went to work for a carpenter who trained him to do fine cabinetry work. They were married in 1941 and Hazel happily used everything she had been making for years to beautify her home.
Hazel and Tom were were very happy together and eventually had three strong handsome sons. Hazel's only regret was that she didn't have a daughter to share her love of needlework with. When the boys finished school they went into their dad's business. They married well and Hazel loved all her daughters-in-law. Unfortunately, they were all too modern for Hazel's old-fashioned needlework and she knew better than to make such things for them. She continued to make lovely things, however, with the idea that maybe a granddaughter would like the 'old' things. When variegated threads became available she had the best time making crocheted edgings like these lavender/purple edged pillowcases. You guessed it....Hazel was the proud grandmother of 7 grandsons! When she died the chest of lovely linens was sold for a song to an antiques dealer who knew the value of the pretty things.
This is where I come in and the story is no longer fiction! I bought 7 of these lovely cases from the dealer who didn't even remember where he had gotten them! Just that he had gotten them all from one estate.
I cut the seamed bottom of the case off and used it to make the bodice of the little sundress. I used a hand embroidery design that I found in an Australian magazine called "Handmade" that I found in JoAnn's. I used a favorite pattern to make pant*ies to match the ties on the bodice top and a 1952 pattern to make the sun bonnet.
I like to think that Hazel was smiling in heaven when she saw me embroidering the bodice. I am sure she gasped when I cut into the pillowcase but I hope that she relaxed and smiled when she saw the finished product, knowing that a little girl will finally be enjoying the lovely case she made so long ago.