Antique linens introduce the exceptional beauty of textiles into your home. They’re really too lovely to be stored away in a drawer or armoire. Preserving your antique linens to enjoy them for a long time is not difficult at all. I’m sharing my Best TIPS on How to Preserve Your Antique Linens today.
Antique linens impart such a gracious sense of welcome to your home.
Not only are antique linens a joy to look at, they’re a decorative addition to your interior, and functional, too.
Linens bring the beauty of the past into your daily life. Each linen treasure was made long ago with such care and exquisite workmanship.
Because for centuries a trousseau was such an important part of a young woman’s life, her linens were made with skill and care. Meant to serve her all the years of her life as a wife, mother and hostess. The linens in her treasure chest were made of as fine materials as her family could afford.
Often they were embroidered with her initials, or a family crest. Each piece that remains is a true work of art.
There is something magical about a collection of antique linens, isn’t there?
It’s such a joy to collect these magnificent treasures of long ago. They have such history, and no doubt many charming stories of the past locked in their very weave.
These days, collectors display their linens with pride, and also actually use the linens in many ways.
Always an avid fan of linens, I can’t get enough of their beauty, sumptuous feel, and delicate details. It’s music to my ears when some of my very favorite European sources at markets whisper to me “come back later, I have things held back just for you. I know you will appreciate them!” And I do.
Sometimes with wonder, and tears in my eyes at the beauty of these linens used by women so long ago.
Women just like you and me, who loved their homes and wanted to surround the people they loved with beauty and graciousness.
BEST TIPS FOR PRESERVING ANTIQUE LINENS:
STORE IN THE DARK.
Just like antique paper, linens or any other textiles will stay beautiful longest if you store them in the dark. Light can fade colors and weaken the fibers. If you are not using a linen piece, store it in a closet or drawer.
STORE COOL AND DRY.
Be sure that you don’t store your antique linens in a place where it gets hot and/or damp like a box or closet in your garage, or attic. Damp hot conditions encourages the growth of mold and can attract insects like moths. If your closet or box is somewhere where you feel comfortable with the temperature, it’s the perfect place.
FOLDING FOR PRESERVATION.
Always try to store your antique textiles flat, with as few folds as possible. Acid free tissue paper can be layered into large cloths or sheets, to help soften the folds. Make sure that your folds don’t become creases. It is good to take your collection out of storage and unfold, inspect for any damage, and refold in a different way.
For large quilts or fragile large tablecloths, I roll them around a cardboard tubeI rolled in acid free tissue. Flat storage is always best, please don’t hang your antique tablecloths on hangers.
CLEAN AND MENDED.
Before you decide to wash, mend or send your antique textile to the cleaners, think about its value. If something in your collection is extremely rare, it may be better to leave it “as found” to preserve its value.
For antique tablecloths and other linens that you intend to use, proceed with great caution. The antique linens we sell at FrenchGardenHouse are chosen for their wonderful condition, but even some of them will have a miniscule spot. They are over 100 years old and are perfectly imperfect. Rather than rubbing it to death with a cleaner and causing a hole, I embrace their little signs of use by a family as part of their charm. Be careful. It’s almost always better to leave antique linens the way they are. Over-mending, over-washing and over-anything pretty much always has disastrous results.
WASH WITH CARE:
Most antique linens benefit from being washed by hand. Your washing machine is most likely too strong on the agitation level to pay respect to the embroidery, lace inserts and finely woven cloths. Wash by hand, maybe tumble dry on “air” only, lay flat or hang over two lines on top of white towels to dry.
The exception? Sturdy French Country cloths, homespun of linen that is coarse. I’ve washed these in my washer, spun them in the dryer until slightly damp, and they’ve come out gorgeous time and time again. Please use your best judgement!
Having said all that, I hope that you enjoy your antique linens! A closet full of beauty doesn’t embrace the reason they were so carefully and skillfully made in the first place. Use your lovely antique lace tablecloths and enjoy wonderful meals at your table with all the people you love. Lavish your bed with antique linen and lace pillows, it will be a joy at night and first thing in the morning. Life is short, enjoy the beauty left to us by women from centuries ago. They’d want you to enjoy their beautiful things just like they did!
I hope you have enjoyed reading my best tips on how to preserve your antique linens today.
I’m always thrilled with every new collection of antique linens I’ve been able to curate and that comes into our FrenchGardenHouse shop.
This one? It’s a decided favorite, filled with vintage Madeira embroidered voile, French monogrammed linens from a “petit chateau”, Italian cutwork lace tablecloth & Napkinss and napkins with lace monograms you won’t believe!
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