Tag Archives: Textile

Holding on to an age of quality


(Photo credit: George Eastman House)”][MCCALL'S MAGAZINE, KIDS IN LINEN CLOSET]It makes sense that as owners of a vintage linen and lace shop, we are in love with fine linens. Tight woven linen, some white, some cream, some with hand printed flowers and vines, with vivid red, yellows and green colors in distinctive patterns. Colors just as alive and vibrant today as when they were first produced. You can visualize the artist passing the linen through each color separation, but not always registering the cloth exactly, as would happen if it were in today’s high-speed linen press.

That’s what makes vintage so special; the imperfections afforded a warm hand, versus the cold steel of today’s production methods. Then you have the beautiful Damask linens, each with their subtle but distinctive pattern, that when laid out on a table, along with the matching napkins and fine silver, make dinner with friends a special event.

Oh, did I fail to mention we just picked up a trunk full of vintage linen this weekend? You probably would have guessed it anyway. I have spent my day, literally lying within the folds of history. I have smelled the clean air, the aroma of the slow cooked pot roast and roasted potatoes.  In my mind, I hear the clatter of dishes and dinnerware over the chatter of family- all sitting down to Sunday dinner.

I started thinking, what makes the experience of touching fine linen so special? For that matter, what makes the experience of collecting anything vintage so special? I don’t know the exact answer; it’s different for everyone, but I have my suspicions. The 30’s, 40’s, 50’s are my favorite years and it’s hard to pick any one thing that makes these generations stand out, until you voice all adjectives and realize that you have used “quality” more then once.

The fact that the linens that we hold in our hand are so crisp and wonderfully colored after all these years and hundreds of washings later, are a big part of it. Modern day linens miss this level of quality. Maybe it’s the fact that these were produced when pride and quality of workmanship was in everything. Perhaps that’s what all of us look for when we purchase anything vintage. We are purchasing a chance to get back an era when times were simpler and families were closer and pride in workmanship was paramount. When you pick up a napkin from the 30’s you get the same feeling your grandmother felt and the same feeling your children will feel when they are the recipients of your collection.

Secretly I want to keep every linen napkin I touch; every lace doily I wash, or every tablecloth I fold. I want my daughter to have this quality long after my passing. Then my husband says the magic words that bring me back to why we opened this store. He’ll say, “Do you know that when a customer buys these linens, that their children will probably end up using them in their future?” I pause and think about that and then it strikes me, that this is the guarantee that “quality” gives you. That’s what I live for. By retrieving, preserving and passing on this little bit of cloth, I pass history forward. That makes me smile.

Stop in a pick a piece of this history. Take a look at what American workers did. Some of them (many of them) were your grandmothers and grandfathers, maybe – if you’re older, even your mother and fathers. They did good back then.

Colors and Fabric by Season


Even though we deal in vintage linen and lace and stock a myriad of colors, we still try to coördinate our offerings with the seasons.  Our buyers are often craft or decorating people with upcoming special projects they are building months in advance.   Still, color and fabric type are important.

It’s winter as I write this and we find a lot of our wool and embroidered products going fast.  Anything blended that has wool goes quick as well.  Silk is popular with us and proper year round but the lighter silks for dresses and skirts are more summer wear while the heavier, multi-layered silks are right during the winter.   Summer is for lightweight cotton, light weight silk and linen.  Fabrics that have a loose weave and are made of a breathable fabric are great for summer. Fall is the season for wool.  Heavy weight cotton is also appropriate.  Spring is similar in terms of fabrics but you can also wear summer weights during spring.  Here in Colorado we tend to “layer” ourselves in both summer and fall weights.

We also look at colors of the season.  Traditionally winter colors are the darkest and much of our displays today have dark colors showing.  Starting with the blacks, winter colors go to charcoal, grey, browns, olives, golden’s, navy, burgundy, so on. )  Summer is the greatest pastel season (pale pink, butter yellow, baby blue, light mint, crisp white, etc)  Again, fall is often full of rusts, olives, camels, beige, light browns and so on.   Spring is light blues, roses, aqua’s, beige, and so on.   We are getting ready to rotate our stock from winter to spring.  (We do this months in advance because people are already starting to think of their spring projects.)

Don’t rely on color for what to wear.  Designers are using all colors in all seasons and craft people should follow suit.  Winter white is very popular and black is still a year round color.

The other day for example, a woman walked in and asked if we had any Hawaiian prints.  We had one or two, but a large selection is hard to find.  Here it is – dead of winter and she wants Hawaiian prints.  She said if we were vintage we should stock more Hawaiian.  After all it was very popular in the 70’s.  Go figure.