Wednesday, November 3, 2010

From dingy to beautiful....linens! AND a giveaway!

box of linens, a little bit dingy and smelly.

I have a soft place in my heart for pretty linens.  We still use "real" linens every night (at least when I cook dinner).  There is something about "napkins on your lap" that brings me back to childhood.  That was one of the things beaten (NOT literally) into our brains as children.  My parents even made it a game, last one with napkins on your lap, got a "ohhhhhhh, you loose" from the whole table. (a family of 6 can make the last one with their napkin on their lap feel pretty bad.  We actually still do it when we are all kids think it is so funny, but hopefully they are learning too.

Anyway, I digress.  

This time of year is when I really start thinking about linens, because linens are a huge part of a beautiful table.  I have a special tablecloth that my great grandmother hand embroidered that we use every year at Thanksgiving.  There is something about the time and effort that went into it that just amazes me.  Back in the day, that was how women socialized, with a needle and thread in hand...keeping their hands busy (we blog, they hemstitched)  My grandmother, who grew up on a farm, told me about how she hemstitched a set of napkins for the State Fair when she was little like 11 years old, and still remembers the painstaking work...but the pride in the memory is evident when she relives it.  

A few months ago I scored a huge LOT of linens at an auction ($7)...actually I didn't know I had scored, I wanted the dish on the top of the box, but when I delved further down there were TONS of hand stitched linens.  YAY!  Beautiful hemstitching, embroidery, cross stitch, irish lace.  My husband took one look and said "what are you gonna do with all those?"  I said "clean them of course."  Not really knowing how to do it (I am really not a launderer, I have been known to pink white pants.)   Anyway, I found out there are some great products, so I tracked it down and got to work.  This was a day long process (I could have done 5 loads of real laundry, but hey, another time!)

this stuff is AMAZING.
1) Fill a bucket with water and read the directions on the back.
2) I soaked for 20 minutes, rinsed and then soaked for 4 hours. (it is weird the oxidation makes the linens kind of grow in the bucket.)
3) I rinsed all of them in the sink.
4) Hung them out to dry (I wish I had a picture of this, it was hysterical)  Linens hanging EVERYWHERE!
5) Iron and fold new WHITE clean linens.
6) Set a beautiful table

sorted on the table before Ironing...some work ahead of me.


In the end I had beautiful white crisp ironed linens.  A dream.  And I actually kind of enjoyed it, I felt a little more connected to my grandmother.

In the spirit of linens and November being a table setting month,  I am giving away 4 hand cross stitched fall napkins.  Just leave a comment and I will draw the winner on Sunday.

Would be great for dining in the fall.

 Have a wonderful day, 3 more days till E&J!


Rene said...

Gretchen, we are kindred spirits. My mother has instilled the same "linen" philosophy me. Any time we are near antique and thrift stores, she makes a run for the linens. Says, "when they're gone, they're gone". She is right. So you find all you can in SC and will cover NC:) Thanks for the restoration tip. Had never heard of it.


pve design said...

Wonderful missy - you should be proud....My Mom always told me that there is something therapeutic about ironing and things pressing themselves out!
It still works. I have been guilty here, using a bit more paper than I like, but I need to "up" my linens!

mom said...


Meredith Jewell said...

I have enjoyed recently catching up on your blog posts and loved the one about the bird cages but then also was drawn to the linen post, too! I think it's because the older I get the more I enjoy real "domestic" things...(like cooking from time-to-time, decorating my house and photography) minus laundry. With the weather and time of year changing it gets me excited about the holidays and staying indoors to cook yummy food. But with that comes lots of hosting, too, so that's why I appreciated this article and how you "dress up your meals".

Nessa said...

I love those... I just bought a cross stich lesson book and kit today on a whim.

Lovely linens make me smile too.

pretty pink tulips said...

I have a stack of my grandmother's napkins.....but they need a good washing. I'm going to try this product. You did an amazing job!!!

And, since I won the last give away, I'm just leaving a comment for you. Don't include me....just wouldn't be fair! :)
xo E