Saturday, January 31, 2009

Linens 'N Things

How many of you collect old linens? This is the weekend clipping file for you to enjoy.
The habit, the Jones of collecting "antique" and "vintage" linens came out of necessity. They were once cheap, and unloved. Then Ralph Lauren and Martha Stewart jumped into the fray, and collecting old linens became popular. They made it okay to be a working class stiff with nary an heirloom in your linen press. You could collect someone else's heirlooms and love them as if they were handed down to you.

It was quite the rage back in the 1970's and 1980's and 1990's among my friends. We scrounged around flea markets and thrift stores buying old towels, sheets, pillow cases, nighties. When we went to Europe we had to buy an extra suitcase or two to haul back the linen loot we picked up there.

We loved the thick monograms you can feel, and we didn't care that the initials weren't our own, although when we did find "our" monogram or initial we were thrilled.

In fact we loved writing of all kinds on the old linens and grain, flour, or feed sacks. Better yet if it was in French, which seemed so glam and to die for.

If you could sew a little, you could turn sacks into pillows for your couch.

Mongram towels I found yesterday buried in a cupboard -
I pulled them out for the guest bathroom since we had company

The writing is on the wall -
Cute message board!

This is the 'N Things part of the post -
I just like the wall, and think it would be a good message board idea

Even vintage and antique altar linens came into our homes. These were often the best deal of all, and they made wonderful table runners.

Altar linens

We collected so much of the stuff, that we had to get armories, so we could display our linens in prominent places.

Ticking was a big deal too. Any color from the trad blues and black and grays, to red and green.

Tick tock tick tock - time flies
Ticking in my bedroom past

Bedding was easy to use. You just put it on the bed! It didn't matter if the antique sizes didn't fit modern beds. You just piled it on.

Old Matelasse bedspread used as bed skirt in my bedroom once upon a time

If you had on odd sheet, or tablecloth, or even just a piece of fabric, you could clip it on a rod and it would be so pretty.

It was back when clips were Euro and cool, and not the passe tacky thing some would have us now believe.

My tacky clips

We collected tablecloths and napkins by the dozens. It didn't matter if they had holes or faint old stains. We used our linens everyday. We learned how to launder and iron them, and hold them together as the fabric rotted away with time. I once had a super long linen sheet that got tattered on the bottom edge. I took it to my local dry cleaner/tailor and asked that they cut off the bad part, and make me a nice hem so I could use the good part of my precious piece. They laughed at me, and told me to get that rotten piece of crap out of the store. So I did it myself, and used that sheet as a tablecloth for many years, until it finally did disintegrate.

Shabby Chic was a godsend. We happily slip covered and mixed matelasse, florals, lace, and linen. We found a two new words: Euro sham. We piled on the pillows.

Antique pretties to wear, such has nightgowns, camisoles, bloomers, and dresses also caught our fancy.

If they didn't fit us, we displayed them as a work of art.

Another 'N Things portion of the post - I just think this plastic gown is fabulous!

I collected and wore similar nightgowns from the 1930's and 1940's
and wore them as evening dresses, and learned all about the bias cut -
I got a date with Truffaut wearing a pretty like this

And the most natural thing to do with wonderful old clothing was to display it on the wall.

Antique cami on a glass opalescent tie back on my bedroom wall

Antique dress that belonged to my 90 year old friend Miss Anne

Part of costume I wore in a tango show - We did a number showing tango in the olden days -
The petticoat and cami are antique and were a close fit!

Woo hoo! A dress as wall art AND tons of pillows!

Even a pair of vintage and frayed pink satin slippers becomes wall art in my bedroom

Most of my old linens have gone by the wayside. I still have enough pieces to use once in awhile. Personal style changes as we all know, so I don't have the same places to use and display these things. What made me do this post is taking out those ratty little towels and hanging them in the guest bathroom. I realized how many images I have collected of vintage linens, and voila, another clipping file weekend post for you to peruse.

Images from: Cote de Texas, Velvet and Linen, Apartment Therapy, and that fabulous rabbit hole called Google Images.


Unknown said...

I love all these photos! So inspiring! Thank you very much for posting them!

Karen said...

Valorie - I love vintage linens and have quite a stash myself. I, too, love the old monograms and the soft, soft damask of the banquet napkins. I don't have many bed linens, but those tablecloths and napkins spin stories that would make a grand novel!

Ivy Lane said...

Very pretty images! I love the monogram towels you displayed in your guest bath. I think I'll pop in on my Mom and see what treasures she's got packed away in her linen closet! I used to love when we would be getting ready for a holiday and she would pick a linen table cloth for the dining table and there would always be a story behind it!

Sabina said...

Mmm..beautiful.I love everything.
Thank you for another great post.

Visual Vamp said...

I'm so happy to see some linen love out there!
I'm sharing part of a comment I got via e-mail with you from Mo in Kansas City. She writes beautifully, and I think you'll appreciate this excerpt:

from Mo:

"You could have been describing my life before I got arthritis in the ironing hand.

Yummy yummy all linens from the dumps and moldy racks and bins into my realm. I picked. I washed. I bleached (yup—to get out any kooties). I spritzed. I starched. I ironed. I smelled and folded. It stopped me from smoking. I displayed. I hung them on wooden hangers gleaned from exotic hotels. I encased them in glass. I used them and wore them. I looked at and touched them all the time. They were white starched or soft comfort to me, not unlike the wimple and veil foregone for a life if fun and debauchery. My bedding went from spare to sinfully opulent."

VV: Don't you just love her!
xo xo

Unknown said...

Divine! But how do you make sure they don't smell old and musty?

Jan said...

Another great post V ! Inspiring !

beki said...

Ah, such eye candy!!

GrannySmithGreen said...

Be still my heart! I just did a post about monograms on vintage linens! You know what I like!

s. said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who doesn't care if the initials are actually my own or not. My boyfriend is deeply wounded whenever I buy any initials other than his and mine entwined.

Anonymous said...

Well, I had to download every last image into my personal cache! Those linens and the stle they evoke are in my heart (and in my closets, drawers, and shelves. . . someday, yes someday.)

Oh Mo! Oh Mo! Yes, I have to brag that "Mo in Kansas City" is also in my heart. She is my beloved friend and muse! If she had lived in 1890'S Paris, I'm certain she would have been THE Salon hostess. I am the fortunate recipient of several pieces of her lovingly refreshed (and vigorously pressed. . . yes, she once sprained her wrist while ironing) vintage linens.

So delighted Mo and the Vamp have connected. You two are cut from the same cloth. Love ya both! Now Ms. V, you know you're gonna have to cough up some details about that Truffaut date. . . come on, just a few crumbs?

pve design said...

girl after my own linens.