Weekly Favorite: The Book of Fine Linen

I wanted to share this treasure with all of you. Oh my! While I have been unpacking our latest shipment of antique French Linens, I have relished each and every page of The Book of Fine Linen, written by Françoise de Bonneville, foreword written by Marc Porthault.

Enter the elegant world of heirloom household fabrics, their use and manufacture, their embellishment and care.   Linens so beautiful, they almost make you want to weep.  This book covers it all, the history of fine linens, fibers used, examples of the weaver’s art and unusually revealing testaments of the history of daily life.

From peeks into linen closets, I personally, would practically die to have…..

To wonderful historical photos of both the making of these stunning linens, embroidered so skillfully, and the “sales” of such linens throughout history.

French hand embroidered Whitework pieces are still my very favorite, from sheets and pillowcases to napkins, these are always on my first list of “must finds.”

Françoise de Bonneville used household inventories, diaries, and colorful details and anecdotes describing domestic arrangements, to examin centuries of textile history.

She discusses the origins and symbolism of the trousseau, lovingly assembled over the course of many years by young women and their mothers and ceremoniously handed over to the young couple on their wedding day.

Hotel inventory of linens…to die for!

Beautiful antique illustrations and paintings illustrate the daily making, caring for and use of linens throughout the centuries.  Seen here, the “bleaching fields.”

Traditions of caring for linens, which occupied incredible amounts of women’s time and expertise before the invention of the washing machine, are explored, as are methods of growing and weaving natural fibers such as cotton, linen and silk.

This book has so much beautiful visual material drawn from archival photographs, vintage advertisements, old department store catalogues, and splendid paintings

Fabulous embroidery techniques and designs from Europe and America are also superbly illustrated and carefully explained.  Embroidered French net Pillowcase, below, would make any bed a luxurious retreat.  Originally written in French,the text is translated in English.  This is such a beautiful book!


The book is also filled with original photography commissioned especially for this volume, taken from extraordinary textile collections and private homes.

I first thought it would be out of my budget, as some copies sell for as much as $165.00! But some sleuthing around on the internet made me very happy, I simply put “used books” in the google box and searched thru all the used book sites there.  I finally found my copy for under $10.00 including shipping.  But I would have happily paid upwards of $35.00 for this gem.  You will not be dissapointed!  Each and every page is so filled with information and gorgeous illustrations and photos.

If you adore antique linens like I do, it’s worth the wait to put this on your Birthday or Christmas list. Be inspired!

If you want to romance your Home and Garden with antique and vintage treasures to make you smile each time you come home, visit our shop FrenchGardenHouse.

11 thoughts on “Weekly Favorite: The Book of Fine Linen”

  1. There is nothing I love more than linens of any kind! One of my fave past times is to go to thrift stores and antique shops to find linens, I love to dig in baskets and find treasures that no one else has seen!

    1. I agree~! Linens just have something special, and the work women put into them is extraordinary.

  2. Oh, Lidy!!! I must have this book! : ) I smiled when I saw the plate with the “bleaching fields.” I would love to have a walled lavender garden! Can you imagine the lovely fragrance linens would have if dried upon lavender plants? Sigh……

    1. Yes…wouldn’t that be so lovely on your island, Dori?

  3. Tricia Rose

    Isn’t this the most wonderful book – I treasure my copy, bought on amazon.com for only $35 when the list price is over $200. The photos are beautiful, all the information, the feeling of a timeless world – I love it all~

    1. I agree, Tricia, it’s a true treasure, one I know I will take out again and again to read.

  4. Nothing surpasses the beauty and fell of natural fibers. Forget the ironing, it’s a treat.
    I collect antique European linens and I can’t have enough. Friends love to stay overnight because of my linens. Maybe I should switch to polyester. NO!
    Thank you for sharing the wonderful book with us. I am on my way to Barnes and Noble.

    Great post and images. Thank you


    1. Heidi, I can only imagine what a treat it is to stay with you. If Barnes & Noble doesn’t have it, try to search online, since it’s not a new book. You will LOVE this book, believe me.

  5. Hello Lidy,

    Wat een prachtig boek!!! Ik zal het mij ook aanschaffen!!
    Hope everything is fine with you Lidy!! So sorry I have not visited you since a long time. But sometimes blogging is overwhelming isn’t it! And to combine with a job isn’t always that evident!

    Ik wens je een mooi en zonnig weekend Lidy!!

    Vele groetjes uit België!

    1. Greet, you will love this book, it’s gorgeous. You are so right, there is so much more to do now that we blog. Wishing you a sunny and glorious weekend too, sweet Greet.

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