If I tell you a secret, can you promise not to tell? I have a thing about old French linen, I can't help it, and I'm not sure there's a cure. The symptoms are easy to spot, let me loose in a brocante or yard sale and I make a bee line for anything white, off white, monogrammed, red striped..... I sidle up to sellers, feigning to be interested in their silver chandeliers, then casually ask, "et du linge ancien....vous n'en auriez pas...?"
I especially love the traditional old French tea cloths. The heavy hemp linen, the red stripes down the side, the embroidered initials or little name label sewn on. Sometimes they are 100 years old and still unused. The unwashed linen needing it's first soak to tone down from the patchy yellowy beige to a lovely even pale cream. Those that have been used sometimes show slight signs of wear but that's just their way of telling their story.
So I buy, and I buy, and I stack them away, hoping my family won't realise quite what a hoarder I've become. Inevitably there comes a point when even I have to admit that I probably have more dish cloths than I could reasonably use in a lifetime. What to do ??!
So I've been looking for ideas for re-working them and I came up with these pretty aprons. I've put a couple of these up for sale at my etsy shop, but I thought it would be fun to show you how to make them.
It's a happy chance that the width of the teacloth is the right width for the sort of apron I want to make. It's also good news that it's slightly too long.
First I cut out 2 identical rounded shapes from the top corners of the cloth. If one of the corners includes embroidered initials it's even better. I hem my new rounded edges and use the two cut outs to form a pocket. I check the length of the cloth compared to the apron length I'm looking for, the surplus is cut and a new hem done.
For the trimmings I use some vintage red and white toile de Jouy, with a pretty rural deign. To create the decorative diamond shape on the chest of the apron, I carefully cut out around a picture and zig-zag this little vignette in place.
For the transfer design apron, I first visit the amazing blog Graphic Fairy. Karen is so generous with designs to use for all sorts of projects, I love hunting through her archives, looking for good ideas. I iron the design that I found onto the front of the cushion, carefully following the instructions on the transfer paper, and chanting out loud "If Martha Stewart can do this, then so can I,... if Martha can do this, then so can I, if..."
With the strip I have cut off from the bottom of the cloth I make my ties. Either lined with toile de jouy or with extra teacloth Two ties are positioned on each side to tie round the back, the other two on the top edge to tie around the neck.
Et voila! A neat little project, not too long to do and which results in a pretty, hard wearing apron that can be machine washed and a great looking cushion for your porch! Your turn!