Thursday, January 24, 2019

A Vintage Pinafore, Tea, and Friends

Kara and I (Teri) love to collect vintage linens. I have a drawer filled with tablecloths, doilies, handkerchiefs, pillowcases, and the like. A few weeks ago, I went with some friends to visit Dollies Tea Room and was chatting with the owner, Amy. She does such a lovely job setting the tables for tea, using vintage hankies as napkins. Amy mentioned that at times, they get worn and she has to get rid of them. As I have used them for a few projects—and always looking for inspiration to use more—I told her that I would be happy to take her cast-offs, and in fact might have some that she could use.

Before we left, Amy brought out some embroidered linen napkins that she had bought at a sale but wouldn't serve her purpose, and she gave them to me. As yet, I don't know how I might incorporate them into a project, but I feel certain that between Kara and me, we will be able to put them to good use. When I added them to my drawer, I searched my pile of handkerchiefs for some suitable prospects that Amy might be able to use.

Years ago, when I made my Grandma Quilt, I cut one her handkerchiefs into quarters and used them for the cornerstones of the quilt. One of my memories of Grandma was the pretty hanky she always carried, so it was special to incorporate this piece of her into my quilt honoring her.

To read more about My Grandma Quilt, click here.

This handkerchief belonged to my great-aunt, Annabelle. A few years ago, I took a class at the Academy of Appliqué—before we were teaching there—and chose to use her hanky as part of the dress on this lady. I was able to fussy-cut it to add to her hat as well. It was fun to honor Aunt Annabelle, as she was also a stitcher, who helped to make the reunion quilts which I've written about in the past. (See Reunion QuiltsReunion Quilts, Revisited; and A Quilty Family Reunion.)

To read more about this lovely lady designed and our class with Cori Blunt, click here.

Well, last week, I took my friend Bonnie to celebrate her birthday at Dollies Tea Room. I took a few of the handkerchiefs in my stash for Amy, and to my surprise, she said her mother had a dress to show me. I couldn't imagine what it would be, but my curiosity was indeed piqued. 

After a while, Amy's mother, Jane, came to our table to show us this charming little dress that her mother had made. She told us that her mother—Dollie, for whom the tea room is named—had drafted her own patterns for their clothes and made them. They were a farm family during the Depression in the village of Big Pool, Maryland, and owned a canal boat in which they would travel to Georgetown. When Dollie made this pinafore, she embroidered the names of all the cousins around the hem.

The clover blossoms stitched around the neckline complement a three-leaf clover on the waistband.

Lena Jane went by her middle name, Jane, as did her cousin of the same age, Frances Jean. Jane told us when she was little, she would hop over the fence to play with her cousin, who lived right next door. Since Jane and Jean sounded so much alike, her cousin ultimately went by her nickname, Pid. She explained that nicknames were common then, though since her name was short, she kept her name, Jane. 

Can't you picture this sweet dress on a little girl, running through a field of clover?

When Jane finished telling us her story, she handed the dress to me and said that if I'd like it, it was mine. She said no one in her family really wanted it, and she was happy to have it go to someone who would enjoy it. In fact, Amy also thanked me for taking it. I was feeling humbled and honored to own such a treasure, and that they were thankful and willing to share its story made it all the more special. And they agreed to let me share the story with you!

Dollie's story, shared on the back of the menu

The tables set for tea, with vintage tea cups and plates, and old handkerchiefs for napkins.

Dollie is pictured on the wall above. Amy told me Dollie would have loved the Tea Room, but she died just after they purchased the property to open Dollies Tea Room. 

As I sit here writing this, I am enjoying the rest of the pot of tea—bought at Dollies, of course—that I just shared with a neighbor. I am thinking of the mission statement on the Dollies Tea Room website: 

"To feed the soul as well as the body. To provide a place for quiet thought, gentle communication, sweet respite from the hectic everyday world; a place filled with a sense of hospitality and graciousness. A haven for the gathering of one's strength, the refreshing of one's body and spirit."

Indeed, I have found such a place at Dollies. In fact, my friend Bonnie and I have made a monthly date to visit and enjoy such nourishment for our souls.

Bonnie sent me a link to this website that evening—a truly delightful discovery! I have not formally "met" Grandma Rae yet, but I hope I may at some point. Her page is so inviting: quilts and tea on one site! You may wish to pay her a visit at Grandma Rae welcomes visitors to her site with these words:

"Having tea with friends fills a spot in my heart. Tea Time for me is not a lovely table or perfectly made sandwiches and desserts. Tea Time is the fragrance of friendship—it's the aroma of lives shared and the sweetness of sisterhood—bonds that cannot be broken by time, economic circumstances, health situations or lifestyle changes." 

Both statements touch a spot in my heart. I am not sure I ever appreciated tea, or even thought much about it, in this way before. The gift of a sweet little embroidered pinafore has brought new appreciation to that precious cup of tea—and the friends with whom I share it!


  1. This is the sweetest story ever! I too am thankful this delightful little gem is now in the hands of someone who will treasure it for what it is, a sweet piece of our history. I wish you and your friends many happy hours of tea sipping and simple conversations. Thanks for sharing this.

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed the story as much as I did. Maybe someday, we’ll be sipping that tea together!