French Linen Sheets
If you are not familiar with the quality of antique sheets, you are in for a treat! These wonderful and often large pieces of textile history have a gorgeous range of textures and tones and can be used beyond the bed frame!
A Brief History of Sheets
My antique sheet collection ranges in age from 70 to 250 years old. Sheets were painstakingly hand-woven until the early 1900s. As you may notice when browsing my online stores, many of these sheets are monogrammed with hand stitched initials. This tradition stems from the French practice of a textile dowry called a "trousseau". The French trousseau linens were intended to be brought from a young girl’s life into her marriage. This marital boon was a prized collection of sheets, napkins, bed covers and toweling. The amount of trousseau a young woman brought to her marriage was a symbol of family wealth. During the 19th century, it became de rigueur for middle class families to have every item of the trousseau monogrammed in imitation of the aristocratic crests. Monogramming the items in the trousseau was an art in itself, with special techniques and rules for each piece. The sheets were monogrammed with the initials of the bride and groom. Some of my sheets lacking monograms may have still once been a part of a trousseau. While browsing you may find sheets that are made up of multiple panels. The hand stitched center seams, which stitched two hand woven cloth panels together to make a wider width, stopped in the 1930s with advent of wide machine looms.
Qualities of These Textiles
Antique sheets are often found in cupboards, still folded and awaiting use, each with it’s own very unique tone, texture, size and weight. They are most often preserved remarkably well! The fiber content is either flax, hemp, cotton or a combination of each. Often the material and nature of each sheet would have been based on an individual family's resources at the time of it's construction, which is why there is so much variation in my collection. Some sheets are very finely woven, while others have more utilitarian or primitive aspects. They can have a heavy or floppy feel. Some sheets are monogrammed in white, others in red, some not at all! There are sometimes embellishments on the trim or some lace, but often times the seams are simple and neat. The colors can range from bright whites to deep caramels; I even experimented with having a few sheets dyed to stunning effect, some of which are available on my online stores! Antique sheets are machine washable, durable, amazingly charming and beautiful. They add a natural, effortless beauty and intrigue to any interior.
Antique and vintage sheets have so much potential for use, they are extremely versatile! Of course they can be used as is as sheets, blankets or throws and they are also beautiful when dyed. The re-purposing possibilities of these textiles are almost endless! These sheets can be used for upholstery, curtains, napkins, towels, tablecloths, pillows, bedding, bags, backing fabric, quilting, shower curtains, clothing and just about anything you can dream up! There really is nothing quite like the luxurious feel of a heavy, soft and creamy antique sheet!