Antique, Vintage and Family Heirloom Linens

I am so very excited today!
Why? My friend Susan is here!
She and I LOVE linens!

Susan has a much more extensive collection than I do, 
much more knowledge, and much passion for vintage handiworks.
She collects, restores and sells linens like I do,
so I asked her to please come to my place and share with us about linens.
Thank you for all the work you put into this post, Susan!

I wonder how many of us have certain patterns, textures and styles in common?

Well, enough talking, go ahead Susan:


What a pleasure to spend today with you here at Goodbye, House! Hello, Home!  
Leslie, thanks for the opportunity to share with your readers while your wrist is healing ...

Leslie loves linens -- and so do I -- 
so we thought it would be fun to talk about something many of us have:  family linens.  
What about you?  Do you have only a single treasured hankie or doily ... 
or did you inherit trunks full of family pieces?  
Perhaps, like me, you’re somewhere in between.

Today at My Place to Yours, I’m posting about some of my personal family pieces. 
I hope you’ll stop by there, too.  But for now, let’s talk about family linens ... in general.

Because I’ve bought and sold vintage linens for years, 
I’ve seen the linen collections of many families. 
Do any of these look like your family’s treasures?

Some pieces are bright and colorful ... fun and festive ...

Others are softly colored ... elegant ... meticulously worked by hand on the finest of linen.

Some pieces are delicately detailed -- like this child’s pillow sham ...

If you’re lucky, they’ll “talk” to you -- and give clues to their past!  
This doily and hankie were found as shown ... 
in a small plastic bag with a handwritten note on a piece of tape.  It reads:
1.  Square doily given to me on my birth, 4/6/43 - found in my old pink ceramic cradle.
2.  Handkerchief given to us by Signe & Arthur in Sweden.

Or how about this ...
Val - Here’s a sheet and pair of pillow cases from the auction where I got so many (?) things. 
The sheet is a little short. (Ellen ironed them for you.)

Wouldn’t you just love to know who “Signe & Arthur” ... and Val ... and Ellen were?  
I certainly would!

Sometimes, if you know what estate something came from, 
you can make a good guess about a piece’s previous owner ...

Other times, the clues are a bit more limited ...

If you discover linens with clues in your family’s collection,
it can be exciting to think about their past -- perhaps even research it.
Family linens always make me feel connected to ancestors who came before me --
even those I never met. How I wish I knew more of the stories ...

More often than not, however, the linens I see are from families about which I know nothing. 
I can only wonder ...

Did the family have ties to “the South?”

Perhaps ties to Asia ... 
Was this silk piece brought to the U.S. by a military man returning home from duty overseas?  
A missionary family perhaps?

No clues ... but I love that they appear to have been enjoyed!

On the other hand, when I come across vintage linens with original tags 
-- or in their original boxes -- I feel conflicted.  As a seller, part of me says, “Yea!”  
After all, something in its original condition means it’s more collectible ... and brings more profit!

But quite honestly, there’s also a little piece of my heart that breaks 
when I find beauties that were packed away for a “someday” that never came ...

I think the linens that break a little bigger piece of my heart are the ones like this pair of pillowcases.  Someone created these with the most beautiful handwork 
... tiny stitches on fine linen ... but they were never enjoyed.
How do I know?  
Because the sizing is still on the fabric and the pattern marks are still visible ... 
They’ve never been washed. 
They were painstakingly created then carefully folded and put away ... for “someday.”  
Yet again ... the “someday” that never came.

If you call me “sentimental,” you’ll be right.  
I absolutely love buying vintage linens at auction 
(read more about that favorite pastime in a guest post I did HERE), 
but I’ll admit that it isn’t always easy, especially when I’m attending an auction 
where vintage linens from several estates are being sold. 
As I look through the boxes, I’m sometimes overcome with emotion.  
Some of the linens -- once upon a time -- were obviously cherished 
and lovingly cared for by their owners. 
Neatly folded, some even have clues:  
little notes pinned to them saying who made the piece 
... who it belonged to ... on what special occasion it was received. 
How did they get to an auction -- where their stories are now only “best guesses?” 
Why is there no family who wants them?

Other pieces, once-beautiful works of art, 
were neglected and unappreciated by their most recent owners. 
Heaped unfolded into boxes, stains and lack of care are obvious.  
That makes me sad ...

Leslie and I have something else in common.  
About herself, she says, “most of all I love turning ugly and abandoned things 
into beautiful and useful ones, for this is what Jesus' love has done for me!”  

That’s how I feel when working with vintage linens. 
Restoring them when possible ... reinventing them when they no longer achieve their original intent. 
Giving them another chance ... to be appreciated, enjoyed, and part of someone’s family.  
All of these pieces were given up on.  
(You can read about the bedspread restoration HERE.)

If you have family treasures that are packed away, I hope you’ll consider pulling them out, cleaning them up, and getting them back into circulation!  
My all-time favorite linen cleaner is available HERE in my Etsy shop.  
If you have “how-to” questions, just email me!

So now you know:  
My name is Susan, and I rescue abandoned linens.  
I lovingly restore them-- then list them in My Place to Yours at Etsy. 
If you want to start (or add to) a family linen collection, 
I hope you’ll stop by and see the treasures I’m offering. 
If you see something in this post that you like, just let me know; it’s probably available. 
Likewise, if you’re looking for something in particular, just ask; I just might have it in my stash!

You can be sure of one thing:  
New-to-you pieces (wherever you find them) may not have originated in your family, 
but you can be their newest caretaker ... making your own memories 
... and sharing them with future generations.  
That’s what I’m doing with mine. 
Stop by My Place to Yours and I’ll show you ...


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  1. mabe is just me but your pictures are not showing...

  2. Oops, pictures not showing. Excitement must have gotten the best of you. ;) Can't wait to see them though.


  3. Beautiful! I'm so glad you hurdled the gremlins and got the pictures up. I not only love your linens, but I also love your thoughts. I was very moved by the part about saving them for a someday that never came.

    You strongly convicted me about a specific item in my house.

  4. Hi Leslie! Hi Susan! Oh, thank you both, so much, for this wonderful post. I loved reading every word of it.

    Leslie, hope you are recuperating, little by little. Take care, girls, and thanks again! Great post! Susan

  5. Hello Leslie and Susan,
    I really love this post and I can understand your love to old linnens so much. I have several very old tablelinnens inherited that I can never use because they doesn't fit for any of my tables. But I keep them because I just love to have them.
    I feel very similar with old things, like family silver or for example with old photos. Once token out of an album, nobody can ever identify those persons anymore. Why nobody wanted those old photos in that families? I guess, there would be a lot of related persons loved to have them but didn't even know, they exist.
    Those tableclothes stored away for the special day, which never came, makes me sad, too.
    Thank you so much for this very thoughtful and touching post.
    Greetings, Johanna

  6. I'm so glad you all have enjoyed this post -- and that Debbie is "convicted!" Debbie, I hope you'll show us what that item is someday!

    Johanna, just because your antique table linens don't fit your table doesn't mean you can't use them! If your cloths are too large for your table, think about either turning them sideways across your table to give some contrast against your wood OR bunching one up in the center of the table (or on a mantel, sideboard, etc.) to give a look of softness. If, however, your cloth is too small, you can (again) turn it sideways for a touch of beauty against your wood (or even on top of a tablecloth that fits) or you may be able to fold it and use it as a runner down the center of your table. Try to think outside the box! I'm sure you can find a creative way to enjoy them! I even use a really long tablecloth for the window treatment in my bedroom! Good luck.

  7. I love this post! And I love that although I'm on the other side of the world I have linen that is identical and some so similar to yours! Some of mine is from family, and some is , and some I made myself, and I love them all. I havent had any of them out for a little while - now I'm going to get some out today!

  8. I get sentimental about those things too!

    I love old linens and lace doilies! All things feminine and pretty!

    Thank you for sharing!

  9. Your ring is beautiful! What a sweet love story you two have. dorm bedding .

  10. I collect old things in general, not just linens, and I always wonder about the person who used the items. Such a nice post, makes me appreciate the few linen items I have even more.

  11. Beautiful linens, just breathtaking. I am not really a collector of the vintage linens, but I have a few pieces that belonged to my great-grandmother. There is one, about hankie-size, that is covered in hand embroidered names. I'm thinking it was a wedding gift to my great-grandmother from her family & friends. Does that sound right?

  12. It makes me both giddy and heart-sick when I see beautiful hand embroidered linens for 25 cents at a yard sale. Giddy, because I love them and want to give them a good home. Sick because someone spent so much time and love making these beauties that are being sold for nothing. I like to imagine that they would be happy that I am taking them home to love :)

  13. Leslie and Susan! Stunning collection!!
    This is what I did with my family heirloom linens (3 Christmas posts):

  14. These are gorgeous. Oh my, I really have to take better care of some of my older linens. I don't have many but a few tea napkins that are stained and I've been meaning to wash and press.

    Off to visit your guest. Thanks for sharing.

  15. Oh I am so happy to have stopped in this evening to visit and follow you!
    This post was fantastic...I am not only a lover and collector of linens and crocheted pieces....I am an avid crocheter...of fine threaded doilies! My mother taught me the skill from an early age..and I am thrilled to hold on to the past this way...and continue making the future's vintage pieces!

    stop by sometime.
    look through my index at the bottom of my blog to find the CROCHET posts I often feature and have a browse through!

    ciao bella!

    Creative Carmelina


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