Whenever we're out on a weekend drive and pass a small town market Mr E parks the Jeep and follows me along (wallet in hand) as I wander among the various stalls to hunt for treasure of the vintage kind.
Linens, china, picture frames and cookware are my favourite purchases, but occasionally I discover beautiful old buttons and sewing notions too.
I don't mind if the linens are stained or damaged as long as there is a piece that I can salvage for a project or as a stitchery background. Such was the case with a lovely $1 table runner I found at the Ayr market last year. It had two pretty rose embroidered corners but plenty of rust spots scattered over the rest of the linen, however I could visualise two heart shapes featuring those roses so I rescued it right then and there despite Mr E's frown when he reluctantly handed me the dollar coin.
A few days later I cut out two hearts from the old linen runner and wrote the words 'so delightful' and 'old & lovely' around the embroidered sections of each heart.
Then I cut two heart shapes from some Whisperweft (a fabric stabiliser - see here) and fused it behind the linen heart shapes before embroidering the words in backstitch with a single strand of variegated thread which blended with the colour of the roses.
At this point I had to try and match a backing fabric with the embroidery colours and fortunately found one fat quarter that would work.
Today in hindsight I wonder why I didn't think to use more of the stained linen table runner??
Laying each of the linen hearts face down onto the backing fabric I stitched the fronts and backs together with a 1/4" seam, leaving a 2" opening down one side for turning out.
With any curved shape like this you need to clip along the edges every 1/4" or so before you turn the shape right side out. Once that's done, turn the hearts right side out and press the edges flat.
PAUSE: This is where the whole idea stopped for about four months. The two hearts lay on my cutting table waiting, patiently waiting, desperately waiting...until today. I was tidying the sewing room and about to pack them away in my unfinished projects box when I thought, "you owe them a chance to shine" and promptly cleared my diary and set forth with a bright idea!
So let's see what happened, shall we? Are you going to follow along with your own hearts-almost-made? Wonderful!
Ladder stitch or slip stitch the opening closed on both hearts...
Gather an old photo frame, cream background fabric, scraps of lace, ribbon, beads, buttons, pretty pins, bits of bling - anything you think may look good with your hearts.
I collect old broken jewellery and beads so I always have 'something' I can use for a project like this...
...and in my plain fabrics box I found a long forgotten piece of Osnaburg that needed no auditioning as my background fabric because it was perfect.
Remove the backing from your picture frame and dispose of the glass carefully.
Trace the shape of the frame backing onto a scrap piece of quilt wadding and cut it out.
Cut a piece of background fabric about 3" larger than your frame backing.
Spray baste the quilt wadding onto the centre of the wrong side of your background fabric...
Now we have the fun part.
Place the empty frame over the front of the background fabric and start adding your lace, beads, hearts and other fancies, moving them around until you're happy with the display they make together...
Lift the frame away and carefully stitch the pieces in place from behind so that the sewing thread only catches the back of the hearts and appear invisible on your lace and other elements...
Once completed wrap your vintage hearts block around the frame backing and secure with wide tape.
I prefer this method to lacing with thread because it prevents dust from getting behind the fabric (I live in a very dusty/windy place)...
Pop inside the frame and you're done!
The pattern for the heart and words are a free download HERE in my shop.
Having a supply of old odds and ends like this will give you a wonderful treasure trove of gift and home decorating ideas that can be made for next to nothing but look truly lovely.
I wonder what you have on hand waiting for its Cinderella moment?