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Antique Linens

Last April, I received a letter from a lady who had come into possession of a 50 yard bolt of linen – for which she had no use.  The width is 36 inches.  ‘Would I be interested in purchasing it?’  The linen is quite old.  So, I asked for a sample – and I bought the bolt.

The antique linen came to me in the original wrapper with a postmark of October 24, 1958.  This linen is 55 years old!

So, I began doing all the things I do in order to see what it is and how it works and what it’s good for.

This linen is soooo lovely!

It’s gone a bit creamy – which if fine – if I need it to be white/white, a few hours in the sun will do it.  (Or not – I don’t NEED linen to be white/white.)

The shrinkage factors are right in line – perfectly reasonable.

It’s the weight and the finish that were most interesting.

This is old linen!  The looms on which it was woven – 55 years ago! – were different than the looms used today and that difference shows in this linen.  While the yarns are the same thickness and appear to be woven more densely than the linen I offer, the linen is lighter in weight than my usual linen.  It’s very soft; it feels silky.  This linen feels like batiste but it’s more dense than batiste.  These contradictory characteristics must be the effect of different looms.

The linen I purchase today has sizing added to it.  ‘Back in the day’, I guess they didn’t have sizing.  Instead, the antique linens were treated to a chintz finish.  This linen has a chintz finish – which washes out readily.

I would not use this lovely for fair linens or credence cloths; it’s too soft.  It’s perfect for small linens.  It’s softness and body also makes it perfect for gowns and dresses for babies – especially baptismal garments.  It’s a better weight than batiste.  We have a generational family baptismal set – gown and petticoat with lace tatted by great-grandmother – worn by father and children.  It’s framed in my daughter’s house – awaiting our next generation of babies!

This linen would also be good for use with shadow work embroidery – see below.

I would think that this linen would be of interest to people who are experienced in linen-making; who have the experience to be interested in linen ‘the way it used to be’.

The shrinkage factors on this antique linen are:

Width: 1.02

Length: 1.035

The cost for this special linen that is in very limited supply is $35/yard.