Saturday, 19 December 2009

The Real Linen Cupboard!!

It is really starting to feel like Christmas. We have snow on the ground, the fires have been lit every day and the tree is decorated. I always try to sort and tidy my linen stock at this time and to remind me that it is possible took a photo of the linen cupboard (or one of them!) as it should look!

There is a saying that "you can never have too many books in a house" the same true for pillowcases I wonder?

It does look nice all folded and stored neatly but those who know me can guarantee that it won't last!

Xmas presents - part 2

I had great intentions of displaying some small linen and lace items that would make great Xmas gifts however my customers have been having a buying frenzy and as soon as I have listed items for sale they are snapped up and I'm off to the Post Office again!  Some of the most popular items have been vintage nightdress cases like the ones below.

Originally intended to enclose your nightwear through the day, they make very decorative boudoir cushion covers. They are generally half the size of  a standard pillow and make a lovely display on the bed or on a bedroom chair.

The other items that have been flying out of the shop are Victorian nightdresses. People buy them for all sorts of reasons; for display in a corner of a bedroom to add a Victorian touch of lace, for use in the Christmas amateur dramatic production of "A Christmas Carol" and others simply to wear!

This long one with long sleeves is very pretty and probably best suited to our cold English weather but there are warm weather alternatives too.

And despite the fact that I have sold probably hundreds of these nightgowns I hardly ever find two the same. So each buyer knows that they have an original garment.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Ideas for Xmas gifts - part 1

Antique and vintage linens and textiles make lovely gifts and are not necessarily expensive either. I bought a number of Irish linen damask towels from auction last month and they are being snapped up by buyers just as soon as I can wash them!

They give a feminine look to a bathroom or guest room - even softening my quite minimilist bathroom!

Here I've used one on the bath and a couple on an old Lloyd Loom clothes basket

Or pop one on a towel airer or radiator.

I also like the old Irish linen huckaback towels in the kitchen. These two with coloured stripes look great with the range cooker ( and as they are thick they withstand the heat of the Aga too when it comes to getting hot dishes from the oven)

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Country house style cushions

More cushions!  These ones have a definite country house look about them. They came from an auction in Yorkshire. They are all hand embroidered - the middle one with embroidery silks and the other four with tapestry wools.

Use to brighten up a chair or just to make an inviting place to sit.

They make a perfect Xmas gift!

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Warm up the winter with a blanket or two.

I have recently acquired a collection of wool blankets - plain coloured and tartan check.
Blankets are great for a variety of uses - to cover an old stool, as a knee rug for the colder evenings, snuggle under on the sofa or use on the bed!

They can also be used to cover an old armchair or sofa as they are very hard wearing. They will also complement either a traditional or contemporary interior

If you are lucky enough you may be able to find a tartan rug for your "Clan".  The rug below is the MacDonald dress tartan

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Suitcases of linen!

At a recent auction I bought some linen which came from a large house in Harrogate, Yorkshire. The linen, much of it unused, had been stored in the house in old suitcases and so the suitcases came with the tablecloths, sheets and napkins.

The almost square shape trunk is paticularly nice. In fact, there were two but I was approached by a couple who wanted to buy the other one before I had even paid for the lot at auction! 

The cases and trunks were quite dusty but after cleaning and waxing they have "brushed up" well! Old leather has a lovely patina and glow and old suitcases can be used in many ways... as coffee tables if they are tall enough, to store documents or clothes or simply as decorative items in a bedroom or study.

They are currently for sale on eBay - maybe the perfect Xmas present for someone?



Friday, 16 October 2009

Glamorous vintage silk lingerie from 1940's

This is a nightdress and dressing robe dating to the 1940's in pink crepe de chine silk and Mechlin lace.                                                                                                                                                                                I have just bought all these items and more from an auction in Newcastle    
They were all made by a lady for her wedding trousseau and worn just on the honeymoon and then put away and treasured for the next 70 years!  They are in amazing condition and are truly representative of that age of glamour. The nightgown and dressing robe are super and far too nice just to lounge around the house!!  The nightgown could be very easily worn as an evening dress.

As they correspond to a UK size 10 -12 they are still very wearable by women today unlike many of the Victorian clothes which tend to be too small. They are also quite long, again an advantage over older antique clothing. The nightgown and robe are 59" long

The Mechline lace is all hand applied and the whole trousseau has been put together with great care and then lovingly kept. As I also bought other lace items from the same estate, some of which were only part finished, I think that it can be assumed that the owner made the lace herself and therefore probably made all the clothes too.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Antique Linen with hand embroidery monograms

Hand embroidered monograms on linens began with the heraldic and family crests that were embroidered onto all the linens of the aristocracy. During the 19th century it became part of the tradition of preparing the wedding trousseau for middle class families - monogramming the household linens with the combined initials of the couple-to-be. Occasionally, the date was included to mark the year of the wedding - invaluable now to help in dating the linens

These monograms were on some linens - cushions, pillowcases and linen sheets - that I bought at an auction in North Yorkshire from a large house in Harrogate. As there are more than one combination of initials I think that it can be assumed that the family also inherited  linens from the maternal side of the family

Hand embroidered monogrammed linen has become very popular in recent years and therefore more expensive!   Below are some images of  the embroidered date and monogram on a linen sheet. It is quite unusual to find the date embroidered in such a prominent position.This sheet came in the same lot of linens and was obviously much loved and used as it has been darned several times. The embroidery work is however excellent - it is currently at auction on eBay.

There is an excellent website which shows the different types and styles of lettering used in monograms  This can be of great help when trying to decipher a monogram as some are so stylised that it can be difficult to work out each individual letter

Friday, 2 October 2009

Vintage hand embroidery - cushions & firescreens

I bought this beautiful hand embroidery panel at auction recently. It had been used as a firescreen and then as a picture but the glass is missing. A friend of mine tried very hard to try to make it fit into her house as she liked the design so much but with no success.

So now I have to decide whether to have it re-mounted and glazed and use it as a picture or maybe it would make a very special cushion.

The needlework is excellent - it is hard to believe that this high level of skill was commonplace at one time and that all girls learnt to sew and embroider

I have several cushions - some tapestry but most hand embroidery - placed around my house. I am always drawn to the Tree of Life designs that were very common in the 1940's - 50's.  These kind of decorative cushions can be better than pictures in a room as they can be moved around to add accent of colour and they have a practical purpose too. 

I sell a lot of these type of cushions in the weeks leading up to Xmas. Many are bought as gifts but I think that often my customers decide to keep one for themselves too!

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Antique Patchwork Durham Quilt

My mother-in-law started quilting and patchwork classes some time ago and, on hearing that I had recently bought a very good, large Victorian patchwork Durham quilt, asked for some photos. She really wanted to see it in real-life but as I had sold it and despatched it off to the new owner within a few days of buying it photographs will have to do!  It is huge! Probably the biggest that I have come across so far - easily big enough for a king-size bed.

I don't think that it had ever been used (or washed) and I hope that when it finds it's new home that it will be on display and enjoyed.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Linens from a Northumberland house

Another busy day today buying some very nice linen. I will be sorting and listing on eBay over the next month - lots of Irish linen damask tablecloths and a large number of sets of Irish linen damask napkins - at least two sets of twelve which is quite rare.

All of this linen had been stored away in very good condition which always makes it easier - much less specialist cleaning.

Monogrammed linens are also very sought after now and I came across a number of mongrammed towels and pillowcases with an embroidered "B".

Much of this linen has come from a large country house in Northumberland called Milbourne Hall .  The house obviously had a large dining table as I have acquired at least two damask cloths over 14 feet long!  I wonder about the type of occasion they were used at and what the conversations were about!    

Some of the napkins have never been used and were still in the original tissue paper