A Sentimental Journey2 – Preserving the Past Through DIY Decor


As promised, here are the valances Lisa made from her grandmother's pillow cases.


What items to you surround yourself with to remind you that you are/were loved?

I have my dad's Bible on my living room bookshelf - the one he used right up until his passing, 28 years ago when I was 26 years old. It sits right next to an original The Life and Times of Abraham Lincoln, an 1865 book, complete with an old fashioned wood spine and leather cover. Lincoln is one of my heroes of the past. On the bookself next to it is a copper bust of Lincoln, a gift from Jillian and Taylor.

Yep, yep, do the math - I admit it - I'm O.L.D.

I can see the candle holder my son, Andrew, bought me several Christmases ago, the Woodwick candle Jillian and I bought in Virginia, the F.A.M.I.L.Y. sign, a gift from my seester, Linda, and a picture of my grandsons with my DH in a frame my daughter bought him for Christmas that says "I heart my Papa."

I tell time by the antiquey looking clock Jillian and I bought at Hobby Lobby just before her wedding and the vase I used in April's wedding is on the floor next to it. On that table is a picture of my Marine son in his digitals holding his weapon when he was in Iraq. I am surrounded by momentos of the recent past that remind me of family and friends - they are things that bring me great satisfaction.

They remind me of how blessed I am.

In my kitchen I plug in every morning my Yankee Candle warmer from my daughter Devin and then plug my iPhone (that my DH and Jillian and Taylor gave me for our anniversary) into the iHome my DH gave me. As I make my coffee in the Keurig, a recent gift from J & T, I see the antique mason jars on my counter that Lisa gave me last month when we were over to her house for dinner.

My home is filled with things. Things don't give me joy, but their memories do. The things around me remind me of how blessed I am.

What have you surrounded yourself with?

Here are Lisa's grandmother's hankies made into a valance for her guest room.


The point isn't whether you like white hankie grandma valances...or even that you like Grandma.

The point IS that you should surround yourself with memories of those you love and are loved by. Sometimes "things" can evoke those good memories.

Grab some of those memories and hold onto them. They sweeten our days.

Here is Lisa's narrative on the grandma valances...

"I love old textiles, expecially hand made laces and quilts. I think of the women who sat quietly working, and wonder what their lives were like.  I know my grandmother never had idle hands.  I’m told that in the evenings, after milking cows, baking, cooking, gardening, cleaning, and training children, she sat in the lamplight (or even in the dusk, since she could work without looking) and tatted and crocheted as the family visited.  I have several pieces of her work, mostly edging from sheets or pillowcases. 

My favorite laces and embroideries are white on white, like the pillowcases. Grandma had embroidered them and tatted edging on them, and I couldn’t bear to just trash them because they were so worn.  Instead, I cut the worn sections off, leaving enough length to make a valance.  I folded over the cut edge and stitched a sleeve wide enough to go over a curtain rod. Then I starched them and threaded all four of them on the rod. I think of Grandma whenever I see them.

Note: some lace can be carefully disconnected from the fabric and opened out to be reused.  If the lace was completely finished before it was sewn to the fabric, it can be removed easily.  If the lace was crocheted or tatted right onto the fabric, you would spoil the lace if you attempted to remove it.  Look closely at the threads to decide before you start snipping.  Lace that was formed right on the fabric will be a continuous circle, on the edges of a pillowcase.  If you can see a joining seam in the lace, it can usually be easily removed.

 I had a few linen and cotton handkerchiefs with handmade edging or some delicate white-on-white embroidery, family pieces, so I was trying to think of a way to display them that wouldn’t require dusting anything. I had a bedroom that needed a valance that would go with the old furniture and quilts. I remembered a friend’s kitchen curtains, made out of vintage table napkins, and wondered how these lacy handkerchiefs would work if used in a similar way. Since the room already had a slender rod over the window, I draped a few handkerchiefs over it, experimenting with spacing and placement.  I liked the effect, but I didn’t have enough pieces to cover the rod.  Oh, Joy!  An excuse to hang out in antique stores, thrift stores, and garage sales, looking for random lace and hand worked hankies! 

Over time, I gathered enough to give the valance this full look.  Most of the squares are merely draped and held by a straight pin from behind.  The longer piece was a linen napkin with openwork embroidery.  In order to let the sun shine through so the embroidery would be best appreciated, I didn’t just fold it over (the other half would have blocked the sun) but instead I cut it, sewed a sleeve in one edge, and slipped it on the rod before draping the others around it.  That’s allowed it to hang lower and kept the finished valance from being too regular."

Please leave a comment below and tell me what objects you have in your home remind you of family and friends and how you are using them.

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6 thoughts on “A Sentimental Journey2 – Preserving the Past Through DIY Deco”

  1. This is a great idea. I have a bunch of doilies, both crocheted and tatted, that I inherited. I think this would be a beautiful way to honor their creators! Thanks for sharing. This is great inspiration for me!

    • @Karin, I think tatting is quickly becoming a lost art. I saw something on facebook that said, “Women don’t know how to knit, sew or tat, but they know how to take pictures of themselves in the bathroom! LOL We need to get back to basics and stop all the silliness!

  2. Thank you for this lovely post.  I also love to create things from my Grandmother's vintage finds she left behind.  The inspiration for my blog stems from this concept. Great ideas! 

  3. Love the pillow case and hanky ideas.  I have a few of both.  One memento I didn't hear mentioned, Val, was the picture of you in your "adopted" family! 🙂


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