Laundry CartThe previous owner of my house was a 92-year-old woman who had fallen and moved to a nursing home. She had never married, never had children, and her nephews were charged with selling her house. The nephews were all in their 50s and 60s and had no use for her possessions. Most of her things stayed in the house when I bought it. This was convenient for me, as I had gotten rid of many of my possessions in Tucson before I moved, knowing I would be living with my son and daughter-in-law for at least a year.

The sofa and loveseat that were seriously marred by catscratches were reupholstered and now stand in my living room and library. The dining room suite stayed in place; the two chests now hold my antique serving pieces. Matching dark green wicker chairs are on the side porch and allow us to eat our dinners in comfort all summer long. The most used item that stayed was the laundry basket.

laundry3This is the old-fashioned folding laundry cart on wheels. My mom had one. If you were born in the 50s or earlier, your mom probably had one, too. The one in my basement laundry area probably dates from the 40s or 50s in this vintage 1927 house.

The woman I bought from was also a sewist and it looks like she made the laundry cart liner. It was an orange and yellow print, probably 100% cotton, probably bought from the sewing department of Strouss-Hirshberg or McKelvey’s. But it had seen better days. Tears were starting to appear from overuse; if I didn’t replace it pretty son, it would completely deteriorate and the dirty laundry would be on the floor!

laundry2Yesterday I pulled the liner off the cart and started removing all the stitching. It turned out to be two major pattern pieces—the bottom and the sides, plus some seam binding for the raw edges. When it was all flat, I pressed the pieces, then started digging through my stash. Rather than stick with a gingham-weight cotton, I found some upholstery-weight cotton that had been stashed since Boston was born. Both Boston’s and Ridley’s nurseries had been decorated with jungle animal prints, and this midweight cotton/linen was printed with shades of olive and rust and gold, with zebras and lions and other jungle animals peeking out here and there.

laundryI laid out the fabric, laid out and pinned the pattern pieces to it and cut them out, making sure I remembered how I took it apart so I could put it all back together. Two hours later, I had a new liner for my laundry basket.

What had been a tough morning at the computer became a happy morning in my sewing room. And now, every time I roll the cart to the laundry chute to transport the next load of laundry, I will look at it and smile.

I’m thinking I might even make a pattern to sell on Etsy. If I needed a new liner, mightn’t someone else, also? I think so.

Here’s a little blast from the past for you from the Department Store Museum blog. Strouss’ department store. Even a garden shop on the top floor!

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About Jan

Musician and geek and Juris Doctor; lover of fine art and fine craft; mother and grandmother and significant other and friend. Passionate about sewing.

9 Responses to Antiquities

  1. Ida says:

    Yes! I remember the wheelie laundry basket- either it was my aunt’s for use in her basement (Minn) or our neighbour’s (Calif). I can remember the sound of the wheels as it was pushed when playing with it.- all dollies aboard This would have been the 1950s.. Good for you to keep it in use.

  2. diane says:

    HI Jan, What a sweet connection with the previous owner. I appreciate the way you folded her into the new life you have created there. The objects you are sharing are taking me back to the household of the 50s I grew up in too. thanks for taking the time to pay attention.
    Appreciating your creativity, Diane

  3. Jan says:

    Thanks for your note, Ida. Those are precious memories.

  4. Jan says:

    Diane, her nephews were most generous with me when I bought the house. They were all in there 50s and 60s and didn’t need her things or the aggravation of trying to sell or get rid of them, so I was the perfect buyer.

    I love that Jas looked at it and asked if I couldn’t just make a new one. Got him trained! 🙂

  5. Karen Sweeney says:

    Did you decide to make a laundry cart pattern to see online?
    I’d be interested….have the rolling cart just like yours but no liner

    • Jan says:

      Oh, Karen, I kept those pieces of old fabric around until about three weeks ago and gave up on the project. I could trace it for you and recreate, but I’m now totally booked until I get home from Interlochen in early August. I’ll make a note on my calendar to look at it then. Thanks for your note.

  6. Sue Tange says:

    Hello, Jan!! I just found you via Google. I, too, have one of these folding laundry carts. I believe my husband and I bought it when we got married in the mid-seventies. It makes me sigh loudly to see that it is now called “vintage.” My husband has been after me to make a new bag for it as the original one is worn along the pockets that attach the bag to the frame. (He is the one usually hanging the laundry on the line outside!) I recently retired and now have little excuse to get this project done. I sew well, but hate hate hate making my own patterns. I would happily pay for a pattern someone else made. Did you ever make a pattern for this project? If you didn’t, I guess my next step is to get out my seam ripper, eh? Thanks for your consideration. I will await a response from you!

  7. Jan says:

    Hi Sue,
    How I wish I had gone ahead and made the liner when I first traced out the pattern. But it’s long gone now.

    One thing I’ve learned is that I should have made the “sleeve” that goes over the frame a little longer. When I put a heavy load in, it tends to want to slip off the frame.

    Other than that, I will wish you a good movie and good couchside bright light for your seam ripper duties. That’s the worst part of the job.

    Thanks for your note.

  8. Sue Tange says:

    Thanks back atcha, Jan. Seam ripper at the ready! Bright light is a staple beside my recliner AND by my sewing machine. I will remember the tip about the longer “sleeve.” The current, factory-made bag has that same issue. Happy sewing!!


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