“To love beautiful linen, is to love fair weather, fair weather that one can acquire and carry home.” – Louise De Vilmorin
For those of you who follow my column, you are aware I am passionate lover of beauty and all things home. In addition, I am also a collector. Not a hoarder, a collector. And, one of my weaknesses and collections is – vintage textiles. This includes tablecloths, lace, napkins, pillow slips, quilts and other assorted items for the home.
This love of mine probably began at about age five or six. My grandmother placed a crochet hook in my hand with a ball of cotton thread and as the saying goes, “the rest is history.” I became a seamstress under the supervision of my grandmother and mother, both were masters of the craft. Also, as a student in the school of “Belle and Louise” (my grandmother and mother), I learned embroidery stitches from A-Z, and developed a thorough appreciation of beautiful handwork and textiles. Therefore, years later, learning to weave only deepened my appreciation of beauty created with hands.
These wonderful gifts I received from my grandmother and mother are not unusual by any means. For centuries, women have devoted their talents to creating beauty in their homes by pouring this desire into a needle, thread and cloth or canvas. They have elevated the most mundane conditions to homes of beauty. Beautiful samplers, bearing meaningful verses and gorgeous stitchery, were created to adorn plain walls. Lovely embroidery, including monograms, were added to kitchen towels, pillow slips, sheets, curtain hems, clothing, handkerchiefs and pillows. Any item a needle, thread, and skilled hand could enhance, was not left unadorned.
Beautiful textiles speak to us. They add a warmth and charm to our homes which cannot be duplicated. Including these gorgeous and gracious elements in our homes, reminds us of special days, speaks to us of different eras, and connects us to those we love. Thereby, richly enhancing our homes. And, vintage textiles have stories to tell – “just listen.” Each time I pick up a piece from my collection, I always pause and wonder about the person who created it, the celebrations the piece has seen, the warmth it has provided and how far and wide it may have traveled.
These lovely things are especially at home in our bedrooms. A bed dressed with linen sheets is divine. Linen becomes softer with each washing and has a long life. Purchasing new linen sheets can be a bit difficult, as they are not readily available in all stores, however, I will provide reputable sources at the end of this column. Vintage linen sheets are often found at estate sales and antique shops. Do take time to check them carefully for signs of wear, before purchasing.
If you have not had the pleasure of sleeping under linen, please allow yourself a special treat. Linen is cool in the summer and warm in the winter. The incredible softness against your skin is so soothing and gently entices you to relax. And, in this room where you shed the stress of the day, you want to begin your journey to beautiful dreams wrapped in the softness of lovely bedding.
In closing, I hope I may have shed a different light on your awareness of linens and textiles – the softness and beauty they add to our homes. Please, share all the stories with younger family members regarding a certain tablecloth used at celebrations and holidays, those pretty pillow slips, an embroidered hand towel and how they arrived in your care. Maybe, you might even consider picking up a needle and thread to try your hand at embroidery, needlepoint or quilting. By doing so, you will create future stories and family heirlooms. And, from the verse on an antique sampler, which hung in my grandmother’s kitchen, “Remembrance is the sweetest flower that in a garden grows.”
See you soon,
Sources for Linen Bedding
Source for Fine Needlework