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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