Holidays often encourage us to bring out the fine linens for our table. I announced at Thanksgiving dinner that I was going to do a blog post on Linens, and one of our guests said, “. . .and what is your position?” My answer was “I’m definitely in favor. When the sides are drawn up, I fall on the side with the linens.”
I confess that I am a linen junkie. I guess when you are an interior designer, fabric is one of your “things”. Linen is after all, just one of the wonderful types of fabric that I handle on a daily, or weekly, basis. And, further, I would like to speak in favor of using your fine linens. I am, of course, in favor of using all fine things, as a way to enhance your life. Beauty enhances your inner soul, and many of us were put here on this earth in order to create beauty.
When I was younger, and had a much smaller collection of linens, I used to buy antique linens at interesting flea markets. Once I acquired a set of Large damask napkins from the old days, quantity: 11, where 3 of them had never been used! You could tell because the calendering, (the shine and stiffness) had never been washed out.
Look at it, above. It still had that lovely, beautiful sheen that linen has when it is new.
Not all linens are treated with the calendering process, but some are. Just fyi, Chintz , or polished cotton, was usually calendered, giving it that wonderful sheen.
What I love about this pattern: the dots in the middle, forming a sort of modern pattern on pattern, and the larger scale dots along the edge, just inside the hemstitching. And the SIZE, and the SHEEN, and the overall pattern in the damask. Funny that I have used and washed 8 of them, but the 3 originals are still here with their calendering. I must have had dinner parties for 8, but not for, ummm, hummm, 11.
I later inherited some antique linens that I treasure. I have a set of damask hand towels! Here I need help from our European blogging friends. I think they are towels.
What can you tell me about damask hand towels? It seems so formal and elegant. Were they for the guest bath? Or were they for the butler’s pantry/kitchen? This set came from an old family in Memphis, obviously with the family name beginning in “F”. Not only are these damask, and they are beautifully embroidered., but they are about 4 feet long! Very long indeed for a hand towel. Are they a super refined dish drying towel for the ultra luxe?
They also have a tab of fabric on the back which makes it seem like they could have been hung by that tab. Can you, friends, shed any light on this? Or was this sewn on so that they could be marked by the laundress, and still not mar the appearance on the front? Don’t you love a mystery?
In keeping with the idea of using your linens, if the above was not intended for kitchen use, then this one was.
I inherited several all linen kitchen towels from one of my aunts. I believe she casually embroidered them, too. In those days (the 1950’s?) occupying oneself with embroidery was still possible for a fine homemaker. This one I have not yet used, but I like to bring them out for parties when they can enthrall the guests! (Once, one of our guests at a large party asked me, “Sally WHERE do you get your towels?!)
Isn’t this a cute teapot, done in a quick stitch style of embroidery. Cross stitch, I think it is called. My mother, too, was great at embroidery and fine linens. Lots of hers got used, and were a part of my growing up. I have many of her linen card table cloths, and napkins, reminding me of the days of their playing Bridge.
In the “old days” fine households used linens everyday, and one of the antiques that I inherited was obviously a daily tablecloth. You can just see this on a breakfast table. The monogramming makes it special, but the stitching is simple, and the cloth is more like a light weight cotton.
Look at the very simple stitching design at the 4 corners.
Now our washing and ironing schedule (if there is one) is so different, and our lives so different, it is hard to remember that cloths were used at every meal! Long before the paper throw away generation (me), and when there might be several women about the house, making the home into a fine home, well ordered.
I have soooo many more photos of linens and different topics about linens, that I am going to save them for another day. Stay tuned for the posts to come. Best wishes,