Pity the Fabric

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Pity the poor length of fabric.

So full of potential, so mistreated and so neglected.

This cloth would’ve come from a bolt of yard goods, a long piece of off-white damask linen, with bright gold stripes along the edges. The woven pattern is of pansies.

Someone came to the dry goods store, probably 50-60 years ago, and said, “Cut me 3 yards. I’ll make an elegant tablecloth for special occasions.”

But that never happened.

The fabric was left folded, folded just the way it came from the store. It got packed away, in a deep dark trunk, and the trunk got put away in a deep dark cellar, where it was damp and there were bugs.

And it sat. It gathered stains of all sizes and shapes, water stains, dirty trunk stains, stains of unmentionable acts of insects.

It sat until the lady who had purchased it died at the age of 95.

It sat as the lady’s children went through the house and opened the closets and planned the estate sale.

It sat while hundreds of people came through the sale, buying the bits and pieces of the lady’s life. But no one opened the trunk in that corner of the basement.

I went to the sale. I bought armloads of pretty linens  . . . but I never went into the basement. I asked the lady’s son if there were more linens I should be looking at and he said he didn’t think so.

I left, and still the fabric sat.

Later that day, I went back. I just knewthat a woman with a fine house like that, decorated the way it was, had more vintage table linens than I had seen.

I walked in. The sale was winding down.

The son said, “Oh, good! You came back! There’s something I want to show you.”

The basement. The trunk still unopened after two days.

The fabric. And other linens, including huge damask “lapkins” with the lady’s monogram.

I brought the fabric home. It was filthy but unhemmed so I couldn’t wash it yet.

I put it on the clothesline to get the smell out and then I hemmed it.

I soaked it, in steaming hot water, with one of my go-to solutions, for hours.

The wash water turned the color of strong tea but many of the stains were stubborn.

So I soaked it again, with my other magic solution and steaming hot water. Many more hours.

I used a spot stain remover. I put the tablecloth outside in the bright sun and sprayed it with water to keep it damp, to let the sun work its magic.

The stains faded but never fully went away.

I have grown cocky over the years about my ability to remove stains from old fabrics. I boast about my prowess. I wrote about it here.

But this tablecloth has made a fool of me—those last stains refuse to budge!

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And still, it’s a lovely cloth and the small spots that remain really do little to take away from its charm.

Finally, after something like 60 years, this fabric is released from its dark prison of inactivity, and ready to do the job for which it was intended.

Pity it no more.

 

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My Dishtowel Jones: The Danish Modern Beauty

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It’s no secret I’m addicted to dishtowels. I love ‘em, old and new.

I like to use them.

I like to weave them.

I like to sell them.

I even run contests to honor and glorify them.

I have a new favorite dishtowel—quite possibly the best ever!

It’s damask linen, very high quality. It’s crisp and almost crunchy, the way good linen is when new. And it has that sheen, that shine, that polish that only linen gives us. It’s unused fabric—never washed or put to use, with the original sizing. The woven design looks different on the two sides. One side shows the pattern as light against a darker background and the other side reverses the shades.

The style of the towel is Danish modern and that makes it unusual in itself. While I could show you lots of table linens and towels that evoke styles such as Art Nouveau or Deco, and even more that are mid-century modern and cottage, it’s unusual to find linens that really complement the cool, clear lines and pale colors I associate with the Danish Modern aesthetic.

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This towel also makes one thing clear—it’s a bar towel! The woven design is of wine glasses and champagne coupes and brandy snifters and decanters of adult beverages. There they are, all lined up on the “shelves,” waiting for the party to begin.

I have four of these towels. The fabric was sold as yard goods and the original tag was still affixed to the linen—“Dalsjofors hellinne” from Sweden.

gothic petuniaI bought a piece that could be cut up into four towels—the design is laid out in a way that made it easy to see where to cut. I double turned the hems and stitched them on my beloved Singer Featherweight.

And now I admire these towels. I gaze at them in wonder and touch them with affection.

I know I don’t need four of them and I should sell some of them on Etsy, to spread the beauty around a little. The closest I’ve gotten is listing one of them at a pretty high price.

It irritates me a little that the listing has gotten almost no attention! Towels that are FAR inferior (in my opinion!) are getting love but my Danish Modern beauty is so understated and elegant, it goes unnoticed. Do you think that’s why so few of us opt for understated elegance as a look?

But beneath my irritation, I have to admit I feel a little relieved. Like all addicts, I covet all of what I need. I want to keep it close, to revel in it, and I certainly do not want to share it!

They say addiction is wrong but if this feeling is wrong, I don’t want to be right!