Dating tablecloths

Be aware that modern polyester tablecloths imitate this aspect of linen but are permanent-press, and will not feel cold to the touch. Linen resists dye and so most traditional linen textiles are white or off-white.Sometimes you’ll find one with a coloured stripe, but rarely will you find one dyed in a solid colour, throughout. While linen will get softer with repeat washings, it will retain its body and weight, whereas cotton and polyester, lose their body and weight with repeat washings as this “feel” is added to the fabric with sizing and polymers, which are washed away.Linen wrinkles easily and is difficult to iron smooth.It requires the heat of the highest iron setting and dampness to iron smooth. Ramie (nettle) and hemp both behave very much like linen. If the cloth is woven in plain weave or a simple balanced twill and is using colour as its design feature, it could be ramie, hemp, or flax-tow.The jacquard weave puts pictures in the weave of the linen that are the opposite on the other side of the textile.

On an older linen tablecloth the nubs will be less noticeable because of the finer weave, but if you hold the textile up to the daylight, you will see the thicker threads among the even, fine threads.

Vera Neumann (1907-1993), primarily a scarf designer, was a wonderful colorist with great graphic style. Her fabrics are also seen in blouses and dresses from the 1960s and 1970s, using silk as well as cotton. The post-1993 scarves have a small “vera” signature and the copyright symbol.

Vera also designed textiles for the home, such as napkins and tablecloths. Here is a timeline to help date Vera scarves using the signature printed on the scarf. Early 1960s: The ladybug symbol and © copyright symbol (registered 1959) were added to the Vera.

Traditionally linen was mangled with a specialty press that took a cold fabric and crushed it under heavily weighted rollers to get it smooth and crisp. Tow is the shorter flax fibers that remain when the longer linen fiber is hackled and combed for spinning.

Cold mangled linen has a wonderful hand that can’t be imitated with steam ironing. It lacks the sheen and longevity of true linen, and is a coarser weave, with more lint.

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To determine the proper tablecloth size for your round table, you must first decide on how far over the edge you want it to hang.

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