A year ago I made the decision to “de-clutter” my house by selling some tablecloths that had been sitting in my basement for years. They were a gift from my sister, who purchased them at auctions and estate sales, and many of them were in great condition. The only problem was that few of the cloths actually fit my table, and several were not colors that complimented my kitchen. So they sat there and collected dust until I decided to allow someone else to enjoy them. I kept a few of them that I really loved and put the rest up for sale on Etsy.
Within a week, the tablecloths sold, and I was shocked. Wait a minute … people actually wanted tablecloths? I knew that tablecloths were admired by people like me, but I never dreamed that I could actually make a little extra spending money by finding some good ones. I’ve learned a lot in my tablecloth journey, and while I am far from knowing it all, I am definitely wiser than I was a year ago.
Before I listed my tablecloths, I did a little research. Although I can look back now and know that I didn’t ask nearly enough for the cloths that I first sold, I know that was part of the learning process. Pretty soon I’d learn to spot a Wilendur or a Startex in a thrift shop and try not to squeal in delight.
The next learning journey involved stain removal. Many of the cloths I ran across were stained and it pained me to have to point out these flaws when I was listing them, especially if the pattern was a popular one. I started reading about how to successfully stain-treat cloth and get them looking like new. I never dreamed, however, at what a laborious, time-consuming process that was. It involves soaking, stain treating, brushing such treatment in with a toothbrush, soaking some more, inspecting the cloth inch by inch, and lastly waiting for a nice, sunny day to lay the cloth on the grass to dry. Some cloths took up to five days! But there was no greater sense of satisfaction to know that I took a cloth that could have been labeled a “cutter” and made it usable again.
Case in point: one of the cloths that I bought at a garage sale was so badly stained that I questioned whether it was worth the price. It was a great retro-looking cloth with orange flowers and I knew that someone would love it. But could I save it? I wish at this point that I had taken before and after pictures of the cloth, because it was a drastic change. Having been stored in a smoker’s home, the cloth was covered with smoke stains and it took three days of soaking just to remove those. What I thought was a yellowish cloth ended up being a white cloth. Here it was after I rejuvenated it:
It has such a neat 60’s vibe, doesn’t it?
The cloth sat in my basement for several months and received several “favorites” on Etsy before it finally sold yesterday, and I am excited that this cloth will have a new life and be appreciated by someone.
I know … I sound like I’m talking about sending my favorite child off, don’t I? I am embarrassed to admit that I do get a wee bit attached to some of the cloths that have a great color scheme or pattern or are highly collectible but just don’t fit my table well. I found this one in a thrift shop and it was really hard for me to let it go because I loved the color scheme so much:
I called it my “orange juice” cloth because the colors reminded me of those old orange juice pitchers from days of old. Vibrant turquoise, bright orange, and a great retro look. I hope the new owner loves it as much I do.
Just today I noticed that a cloth I just sold on Etsy was going for nearly three times what I listed it for on eBay. It is just a reminder that I have a lot to learn as to what the most sought-after patterns and colors are and to do a little research before I list a tablecloth. In the meantime I have found a great hobby and have learned a little more about vintage textiles.
And I feel like one heck of a powerful woman with a bucket of OxyClean and a tub of warm water, too.
My Etsy store has since been closed, as I no longer have the time or space to labor over tablecloths. I still enjoy buying them, however.