Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Vintage Linen Basket - Upcycled

Hello and welcome to my latest upcycling project.


This linen basket (laundry basket) was a constant in our bathroom when I was growing up in the sixties and seventies.  I remember Mum proudly mentioning that it was a Lloyd Loom, a wedding present in 1953.  Fast forward several decades, and this linen basket made its way into my garage after Mum had to move into a nursing home, three years ago.  She is 93 now.


My sister was ready to throw it away because the inside always smelled of dirty laundry (think sweaty socks... ugh!).  It still smelled, even after a few years in my garage!  I don't think the inside had been painted since it was made!

However, a jolly good wash, followed by a few coats of paint has helped matters immensely!


I don't want to use it for dirty laundry, as I suspect it just hasn't got enough ventilation (hence the constant unpleasant odour) but I figured it could be useful for storage, and I really love that it has such strong memories for me.

I researched vintage Lloyd Loom, and I think it is more likely that it was made by a company called Sirrom, who copied the Lloyd Loom style.  


Like Lloyd Loom furniture, it's definitely made from woven twisted brown paper (you may be able to see this in the picture below where the paint had flaked off). But Lloyd Loom furniture included a steel rod as well as twisted paper, and this linen basket is definitely not attractive to magnets!  Despite being made of woven paper, it is surprisingly hard wearing - this has been in a bathroom since 1954 (apart from the three years in my garage) and I remember Dad standing on it to change a lightbulb!


In the picture below, you can see the remnants of a stay chain on the upper left.  This had broken and subsequently been painted in, many decades ago, and I did eventually manage to prise it off with pliers.


The wood underneath the hinges had split, so I filled that in ready for new ones - the old ones had seen better days.


I decided some foam and fabric would make this into a nice occasional seat. I had some of both left over from my ottoman project.  I cut the foam to size, and measured up some fabric to go over the top and under the edges.


I'm no upholsterer, but this was a fairly simple project.  I eased the fabric in places, and folded it in others before stapling it into place.  Like I was always taught in dressmaking classes at school, I also cut away some of the bulk of the fabric at the corners.


I also used scissors to push into the corners and create a neater edge.


 I glued the raw edges in place with PVA, before gluing a contrasting piece of fabric in place (also using PVA) … 


… then completed it with some ribbon edging.


I love this vintage ads fabric - I bought it in about 1978, not having any clue what I was going to do with it.  I've used some on various projects over the years (including this sewing kit).  The fabric possibly says a lot about the 1970s as well as previous years - it's mainly a mixture of old adverts for smoking accoutrements and alcohol, paired with baby's prams.  Maybe it's now a statement on social history! I hadn't thought about it that way before now!


I put the new shiny brass hinges on to fix the lid in place (disappointed B&Q didn't have silver/chrome ones in stock - what is going on? A pandemic?).



I also needed a new stay hinge, to make sure the lid didn't flop back when it was opened.  I decided to go for a fabric hinge, because the previous chain hinge had damaged the wooden frame by getting caught in it. Plus, fabric was the cheapest and most environmentally-friendly option. 

So, the fabric was measured, cut, folded, ironed, daubed in PVA glue ...




… and hung out to dry on a typically Great British Summer's grey day (a tiny tip if you are going to do this too: cut an inch longer than needed and don't glue the top inch - that way you won't glue the pegs or washing line up too!).



And there it is, complete with stay hinge stapled in place - this method makes for a surprisingly strong stay hinge and is so easy to do.


I could have left it here, but I thought one more small detail would complete this project: a little piece of fabric at the front to act as both a focal point and a kind of handle to lift the lid.  Once again, I decided to go for the option of use-only-what-I-have-already-got.



A scrap of fabric - measured, cut, folded, lined and ironed ...



… with a little wooden heart - painted red, with a vintage button sewn in place …



… plus a scrap of embroidery thread, a little time, and easily stapled to the lid. The heart and button match the ones on my ottoman.




I figure we can store blankets, cushions or throws in here - maybe even by the back door for the garden.  I love bringing new life to something that's old, unwanted or unloved!  


This linen basket was possibly all three but , although it's still old, I feel it will be loved and wanted for quite some time now! 

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