Madeira Embroidered Linens

Madeira Embroidered Linens. Always the benchmark of true quality and fine workmanship, I am delighted to showcase our latest exceptional Madeira table linens just in time for spring time.


Recognized as being the finest of its kind available world-wide, the hand embroidery of Madeira is unsurpassed. It is a part of the culture and history of the island of Madeira.

Madeira Embroidered Linens


One of the things I remember most about meals at my European Grandmother’s home is that she set a beautiful table. Always with a linen cloth, and real napkins. Of course she had servants. : )


During the holidays she brought out her really good linens, beautifully embroidered cloths and napkins from Madeira.  As a little girl, I was particularly enamored with a little round linen thing that snapped together to hold warm rolls with little fasteners. Once you snapped the fasteners, there were little compartments to hold each roll snugly. But I really loved all the Madeira linens, their cheerful flowers always made me feel warm, happy and secure.


Madeira Embroidered Linens




Over the past 150 years, the embroiderers of Madeira collected and combined expertise in stitching from all over Europe, to make up their own unique style of exquisite hand work recognized the world over as the best of the best.


Madeira embroidery has existed since the very beginning of the settlement of the island. The more well-known history began in the 1860’s with Elizabeth Phelps.  The daughter of a well-to-do wine shipper, she was worried that the effects of a vine disease called Phyloxera would have a disastrous effect on the income of the vineyard workers in Madeira.  Elizabeth had fallen in love with the beautifully embroidered linens the worker’s wives created in their time off. Because the women of Madeira had such skill as embroiderers, Elizabeth organized this simple “rural” past-time of the worker’s wives into a booming cottage industry.


Madeira Embroidered Linens



Convincing her Victorian friends and family of the exceptional workmanship, she interested English Victorian high society in buying the Madeira work.


Although her efforts created a vibrant industry for the embroidery, it slipped during the years of the Great War of 1914-1918. It stayed in demand in Spain and Portugal, but not in Europe, which makes sense since there was much less importing of goods during that time.  Once the war was over, the high quality linens once again became popular, and it’s no wonder!  So delicate and fine, Madeira linens make every table look its very very best.





American companies such as Jabara, and Marghab really took advantage of the large luxury market in the USA in the mid 1900’s. The Marghab linens especially remain as the most avidly collected, although all the amazing linens from the island of Madeira are incredible!



Madeira embroidered linens are still recognized world-wide for their art, tradition, and superb refined elegance. So beloved are the linens from Madeira, that the Chinese copied as much as they possibly could from the designs, but it isn’t hard to tell the difference between true Madeira work and the copies. The quality of embroidery is not quite the same, and often the cloth is made with cotton, or slightly inferior quality organdy, not the fine linen used in Madeira.



Madeira Embroidered Linens

Marghab Old France



Madeira Embroidered Linens

Marghab Ponte Grega


It took weeks, if not months, to complete a Madeira cloth. Often, several embroiderers worked to complete a whole set for months.


Madeira Embroidered Linens


Madeira Linens



Madeira embroidery is done “in hand,” without using a hoop. The satin stitches are worked over the curve of the fingers of the embroiderers! The women wear a thimble of some sort {some wear a rubber tip} on their fingers underneath the linen fabric where they’re embroidering their satin stitches to protect their fingers, and the linen too.


Not just known for their incredible satin stitching, the Madeira pieces have gorgeous applique work combining sheer organdy with linen in beautiful mostly floral designs. The colors of the Madeira linens are kept purposely muted, to give elegant porcelain dishes and floral arrangements a chance to really shine on tables set for pleasure.



Madeira Embroidered Linens



It’s always a thrill to be able to purchase new pieces for FrenchGardenHouse, here are a few of my favorites this season.



Although the embroiderers of Madeira still produce pieces, the bulk of the linens found today are in private collections, anytime any of these vintage selections come “on the market” it’s a joy!



Madeira Embroidered Linens




Collecting antique and vintage Madeira Linens

Read more about Collecting Madeira Linens HERE >



How to care for and preserve antique linens
How to take care of linens HERE >


I hope that this season, you will be setting some lovely tables at home. Spring is the perfect time for a lovely meal at a table set with fine linen.






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19 thoughts on “Madeira Embroidered Linens”

    1. Rita, they are amazingly gorgeous. I love linens, but these are sometimes so lovely they take me by surprise, so delicate and carefully stitched with the most sublime designs.

  1. Alice Genzlinger

    Beautiful Lidy. I am so excited to read about the Madeira linens. 20 years or so ago I was in a fine linen shop and was shopping for curtains to go on our four post bed when one of the sales persons showed me a piece of Madeira linen. I was enchanted and ordered 6 panels for the bed. I had to wait over a year to receive them but it was well worth the wait. It is impossible to believe a person could do that work because it is so delicate. I so appreciate you giving details on the making of Madeira linens. I don’t know where or who made the ones I have but they are wonderfully made.

    1. Oh! How lucky to have a set of panels with that amazing hand embroidery, Alice. Your bed must be fit for a queen. I agree, the work is so precise and delicate.

    1. They are, aren’t they? I love the wheat too, it is so precisely stitched, and the linen is of such quality.

    1. They are little works of art, with each tiny stitch. That those women didn’t go blind is a miracle, but by all records, most embroiderers did the work until they were quite old!

  2. Lidy — all of this is so beautiful and I’m so glad you shared the interesting history
    behind Madeira., I love the wheat pattern!

    1. Janet, I love that one too. Ok, I’ll admit, they are so stunning in person that I love all of them. The work is incredible!

  3. How awesome this beautiful embroidery is ~as Rita wrote, simply exquisite! I love how intricate the flowers and patterns are. I can see why they are so valued. It’s sort of ironic, I recently went back to my own embroidery, and I’m learning felting to make wee little treasures for the grands.

    Hope all is well with, my friend!


    1. Jane, I love that you are back to embroidering…and those felt little animals? So darling..I know your family will love them. We are very well, and hope that you are too! xoxo

  4. Denise

    Work of art combined w elegance.
    Thank you for sharing these!

    1. I agree, Denise. If you ever get the chance to see this work in person, grab the opportunity. It’s amazing.

  5. noreen

    Beautiful, exquisite handwork that is an art! I just picture the widows of Madeira in their black weeds sitting in the shade as their deft hands sew another fine piece of needlework. Thank you for sharing another interesting post!

    1. Noreen, I love that thought too. : ) It is incredible what they make.

  6. Laurel Herman

    im trying to send you an eamil with hotos attached but cannot find any means to do so so resorting to here
    I’m writing to you from London England as I found your website through Google. I have several organza table mat and napkin sets 6’s 8’s bought in Madeira early 1960s. I also have tablecloths unused too.
    I’d like to know if any are of interest to you but also how I can confirm they are Marghab which I believe them to be although they are not labelled.
    I look forward to hearing from you

    Thanks and regards

    1. Laurel, you can google “Marghab patterns” and it will give you several websites that show almost all the real Marghab designs. There were many other beautiful linens made in Madeira that are of fine quality, but Marghab will be instantly recognized by you by their exceptional quality as well. I’m sorry, but we are not purchasing linens at this time as we just received a huge shipment early this year.

  7. David Mcfarland

    I have a large collection of Marghab. If you a fine linen aficionado, consider visiting the South Dakota Art Center in Brookings where Vera Marghab established the most complete collection of Marghab.

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