I've been accepting old linens from my mum for a while, some of them actually linen, others cotton and hand-embroidered by mum's friends 60 or more years ago. The idea was I'd use them in some way, but most were a little stained or ripped or worn and that meant
cutting into them
which is just unthinkable to me.
Then last week mum said she needed a messenger-style bag she could cart around in lieu of a pocket, something big enough for her reading glasses and some tissues but 'in a darker colour' - referring, I knew, to the bright red recycled juice box bag I was wearing at the time.
I did try to shop for one for her but there was nothing I liked, and it's not like I haven't been making little messenger bags for a while - see my hiking satchel tutorial - so I went home and pondered my stash.
The darkest option was a pair of coordinating Waverly fabrics I bought I think 8 years ago and have never found a use for, but what to use for lining? My white cottons just looked too bright, and the thrifted cotton sheets I bought last summer all had big prints the Waverly didn't like.
Then I thought of those old linens. My mum's aunt had left her some lovely placemats (can you imagine the luxury of dining over linen?) and they had made their way to me, complete with tiny breaks in the lace and small stains on the panels. But the colours - ivory and pale sage green - were right, and the size meant I wouldn't have to cut into them, and how can you beat that sentiment?
I chose the one with the darkest stains, and cut a linen napkin I'd bought elsewhere to stitch on as a pocket over the stained area, being careful to leave the square details exposed. Even the napkin had been so well-washed, it draped open; I had to stitch a line down the middle of the pocket to make two just so it would function as more than just a purse divider. It worked: either of them are deep enough to keep keys or lipstick from falling out.
It doesn't look like much and it photographed like a lot less than that, but when you put your hand inside and feel the linen: hello bliss.
I couldn't see mum fussing with a button or hook closure, so I weighted the front flap to help it fall shut naturally. And yes, I used buttons given me from her own button box.
She loved it. And that made me so happy.