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SUMMER JOYS | FRESHLY WASHED ANTIQUE LINENS

Summer brings to my mind my European grandmother’s wash line. When I was a very small girl, we lived with my grandparents in their huge three story home on a quiet street lined with trees and a park in the center diving both sides of the street. It was a little girl’s paradise!

 

 

When I was a young girl, I loved nothing more than washing day {mostly because I wasn’t the one washing, hanging to dry nor ironing the great banquet sized cloths my grandmother favored.} My grandmother’s beautiful linens waived in the summer breeze in the back garden of her stately European home.  I adored running through the large tablecloths hung there by her maid. {who loved me, but was not really amused!}

 

 

One of the funniest memories I have of washing days during my childhood was the time Grandmama’s new and very expensive body shaper-corset was stolen off the line, and the police had to come. She was so embarrassed, but the elastic pink contraption came all the way from Paris and it really was expensive!

And one of my fondest memories of my unflappable grandmother, who always wore her pearls and was never not completely confident, was her red face when she explained to the police officers what, exactly, was taken off the wash line!

 

 

Linens, washed and hung out to dry in the summer sun smell so good, don’t they?  All memories aside, I still love nothing more than beautifully made and cared for linens. And I know so many of you do, too!  I get daily emails and calls – even texts these days – asking when I can find more antique linens to set your tables with.

 

Thank you for appreciating fine linens like I do. And for keeping the memory of the women who sat day by day, evening by evening by often very poor light stitching and stitching with such skill, love and care, to create these heirloom antique textiles.

 

 

 

Especially in the summer, you, like me, opt for bbq’s and easy casual settings, but on occasion, spread out your delicious food or tea time deliciousness on a freshly laundered and ironed antique cloth.

 

These gorgeous estate placemats with their matching centerpiece had me at lace. Lace with dimensional flowers, and on natural linen, which is a very rare color to find for linens of this quality.

 

 

This post is for all you, who like me, have fond memories of real tablecloths, real napkins, and a more genteel time when we all had more time to spend at the table. I am trying to bring those times back in my own family, and summer is the perfect time to host a few dinners, luncheons or even coffee’s and bring out the crisp cotton cloths, the silver, and spend the time listening and caring about each other.

 

 

How beautiful is this delicate embroidery of the needlewomen of Madeira?  What a luxury and a blessing to set a table for a special occasion, for beloved friends or your family with pieces of history like this?

 

 

Each of these napkins is a miniature work of art, isn’t it?

 

 

This antique French net lace is so exquisite, each decorative embellishment is a hand embroidered petit point rose motif.

And can I just wax lyrical about some of the linen towels with those carefully created monograms?  Imagine having a whole trousseau of these. I am happy with just one – well, maybe a few.  But still, okay, I won’t go on {which makes my girls roll their eyes at me, and maybe you too!} but let’s just say, well, self explanatory, right?

 

 

I’m ending with this beautiful pillow. Which technically is not a linen, per se. But oh! I loved it when I came across it.

 

 

 

BTW….One of my most read posts about linens is this one.  I was so surprised that so many of you love and use antique and vintage linens, and feel very strongly about using cloth napkins. {YAY!}

THE BEAUTY OF CLOTH NOT PAPER

with TIPS FOR USING CLOTH NAPKINS WITH STYLE AND EASE:

 

 

 

With some care, these beautiful antique linens will grace your home for many more years.  Not all linens have to be perfect, I find a certain charm in a carefully patched tablecloth or pillow cover too. We have some stunning antique and vintage linens in the shop right now. I hope you find one that pulls on your heart strings.

 

 

And if your linen love leans more toward the French Country side, I am adding lots of hand woven towels and other antique linens there, too!

 

 

 

à bientôt

 

Shop for the best in French Antiques, furniture with the patina of age, vintage accessories to delight you and your family & friends, and French Country utilitarian pieces. Treasures that make your home fresh, beautiful, inspirational and uniquely yours. Visit our shop FrenchGardenHouse.com

16 Responses to SUMMER JOYS | FRESHLY WASHED ANTIQUE LINENS

  1. Gorgeous linens. Love your story of your Oma’s corset,these memories are priceless.

  2. Pulling at heart strings? !!…I say yes indeed!!!!….and I will tell you that the pillow made my heart strings fly!! Oh my goodness!….I loved the story about your grandmother!…She was definitely a lady that I would have enjoyed to be around as you so did! Thanks for the smiles today!!!

  3. What a wonderful post today. I am the recipient of my grandmother’s old linens and her sister’s, also. They are old and lovely and I’m actually afraid to use them. I need you here to give me advice!!
    Your display of gorgeous antique linens this morning is breathtaking! That white monogram is absolutely exquisite!!

  4. Vicky, what a joy to have your grandmother’s linens and her sister’s! Please don’t let them languish in drawers or closets, but use them. If they should get a spot, oxy-clean soak does wonders. You can hand wash if they are delectable or have a lot of lace, then tumble dry on low, or hang out in the garden like grandmama did.

    You can even think outside the box and use cloths over your sofa, in your bedroom, make pillows out of some, etc. but if they are not used and enjoyed, they will be forgotten treasures. Your grandmother would want you to use them and love them, and while you are, you will have that warm feeling of memories.

  5. Oh, Lidy. I know you were the cutest little girl running through the drying linens! Every single item here is exquisite. You’re so blessed to be their foster mom while awaiting their new homes!

  6. That pillow is beautiful !
    I too love linens especially antique .
    It is so hard to find nice lines these days
    I don’t use paper , even on the island
    My grandma hung out her wash too and the smell
    Your dear grandma , so embrassing for her , but too funny
    Have a great day Chrissy

  7. Hello, Lidy,
    I really loved looking at all the pretty linen’s and the pillow is just so sweet, I love mine, I have some old dollie’s and linen’s from my Grandmother and I use them and enjoy them like she was here with me. The past is always sweet memories and all of the above are beautiful, thank’s for sharing. Happy summer~~~Bonjour~~~~~~~~~~~Jean~~~~~~

  8. Hi Lidy — You brought back many sweet memories of laundry day at my grandmother’s. Although she lived in a small cottage on Chicago’s south side. Clean linens, including hand-embroidered pillow cases, were hung in the sun. And we had to put her hand-crocheted tablecloths on “stretchers” designed to make sure they dried without any twists or misshapen corners.
    I still love and collect pretty linens, even for my kitchen, and I’m sure it is her influence!
    Thanks for the walk down memory lane.

  9. Janet, I love this memory…I know that our children will have different memories, and I hope they will be as sweet as our “old-fashioned” ones!

    xo

  10. Oh I visited your blog too late. As I spotted the different linens they were already sold. But you know
    I have my share of the ones you had in the past I guess it is only right that others will share the
    Joy of setting a table with them as I have with my past Purchases.

  11. I love the gray cachepots with the Bee imprint! They are so lovely and I look forward to using one this Summer. Seems like it’s always Summer in Texas.

  12. Your linens are gorgeous. Cloth napkins and table runners are a weakness of mine. I even like to wash and iron them straight off the clothes line…especially love how my sheets smell (one of my favorite things). =)

  13. I loved this post Lidy. Just last night I finished reading Francoise de Bonneville’s fabulous book, The Book of Fine Linen. Your story of the washing line brought back memories of white cotton sheets hanging on lines beneath the roof of our stoep on rainy days, and my sister and I rollerskating between them! I loved the mystery of the disappearing corset, so funny! Yesterday we celebrated Father’s Day with a big lunch for nine people. I would never have dreamed of using paper napkins…no, I took out my best hand embroidered ones and starched them specially. Jeanne XX

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