linen napkins

Liberating Linens!

I love fabric in all its forms, especially linen. With age and use, linen becomes soft and drapes beautifully. Linen is extremely durable, it is absorbent, strong, doesn’t abrade and is stronger when it is wet. Linen or flax has been used for clothing, bedding and other household uses for many thousands of years.

Vintage linen hand towel textiles with crocheted monogram Doris lovadina-lee found in Guelph Ontario Canada

Although linen has had a resurgence in popularity, it’s been primarily in the clothing industry. It makes me sad to see beautiful linen napkins, hand towels and tablecloths in thrift shops. Some have beautiful handwork – tatting, crochet, embroidery, cutwork. Someone has lovingly and painstakingly created these precious and useful items.

detail of crocheted edge linen towel Doris lovadina-lee

So, I recently liberated a few pieces of linen from a thrift store. The bureau scarf above has a few small holes but the crocheted monogram and the detail around the entire piece is still pristine.

Doris lovadina-lee vintage bureau scarf white linen with edging
This hand towel with the beautiful deep crochet edge is in excellent condition and just needs to be pressed.

vintage hand crochet textile edges on linen tea towel dorislovadnalee.com

The tatting on the linen hand towel below has a little damage on one end. If it can’t be repaired, I will probably dip it in indigo this spring and then use it in an art project. I could also remove the damaged end, hem the towel. It is just to beautiful to toss!

tatted edge tea towel vintage find Toronto Ontario Doris lee

The hand embroidered flower garland is made of a coarser linen. I’ve washed it a couple of times to remove some stains, but they are stubborn. I will probably cut this one up for a project I have in mind.

vintage textiles tea towel with garland flowers embroidered on edge Toronto doris lovadina-lee

The puppies are also stained but too cute! This too will be cut up into a project.

hand embroidery puppy dogs on yellow tea towel Doris loading-lee

Liberated Linens

Liberating linens is not a new endeavour for me. Whenever I find napkins, towels, table runners or any other linens, I can’t help but bring them home with me. But, I can’t keep them all! 

hand dyed vintage cocktail napkins doris lovadina-lee shop online

The cocktail napkins above are dyed a beautiful purple. The set of 6 would be a fun addition to your next tea party. They are embroidered with a small flower on the corner and hemmed with a beautiful scalloped edge.

vintage napkins hand dyed shibori green repurposed doris lovadina-lee online shop

Two shibori dyed green cocktail napkins. Best with a dry martini!

for sale Thrifted textiles cotton napkins green and blue shibori handdyed by doris lovadina-lee

This set of 2 cotton table napkins in blue and spring green are just perfect for a fun luncheon with your best friend.

doris lovadina-lee online shop blue shibori set of three vintage hand-dyed damask table napkins Toronto

Three elegant napkins are shibori dyed in blue. Enjoy take out in style!

Look for these napkins in my new online shop. If you have any ideas for my newly liberated linens, let me know.

Indigo Linen Napkins

I am pleased with the results of dyeing linen. I made two sets of napkins from some beautiful cream coloured linen. The first set of four are cocktail napkins about 9 inches square. Two resists were used to make the design.

Indigo dyed linen cocktail napkin
Indigo dyed linen cocktail napkin
Indigo dyed linen cocktail napkins folded
Indigo dyed linen cocktail napkins folded
Indigo dyed linen cocktail napkins folded
Indigo dyed linen cocktail napkins folded
Indigo dyed linen cocktail napkins folded
Indigo dyed linen cocktail napkins folded

I took a photograph of the linen napkins, before dyeing them. They are shown below, folded and clamped with their resist. The piece in the centre is cotton wrapped around two CDs and bound with elastics. I haven’t yet washed this piece out.

Indigo dyed linen napkins clamped
Indigo dyed linen napkins clamped

The dinner napkins are a generous size. At 19 inches they will easily shield the messiest diner!

Indigo dyed linen dinner napkins
Indigo dyed linen dinner napkins
Indigo dyed linen dinner napkins folded
Indigo dyed linen dinner napkins folded
Indigo dyed linen dinner napkins
Indigo dyed linen dinner napkins
Indigo dyed linen dinner napkins
Indigo dyed linen dinner napkins

In our house we always use cloth, most of them vintage. Do you still use cloth napkins?

Indigo dyeing Fall 2016

I was hoping to squeeze in one last weekend of dyeing and was lucky to have a beautiful day this past weekend, to set up an indigo dye pot.

oct2016_indigo_preparation
Arashi and nui shibori

I had some pfd fabric that I wanted to dip in the pot, as well as some scarves that I wanted to over dye.

Sushi and itajime shibori
Sushi and itajime shibori

I tried one new technique: sushi shibori. The fabric is fan folded and then rolled up like a sushi roll, wrapped with elastic bands or string.

Itajime scarves and quilting cotton
Itajime scarves and quilting cotton

Three scarves and one metre of pfd cotton folded and clamped.

Linen napkins and quilting cotton wrapped and bound - itajmie shibori
Linen napkins and quilting cotton wrapped and bound – itajime shibori

I made two sets of linen napkins: four are cocktail sized and four are generous dinner sized napkins in a light beige colour. I use all sorts of items as a resist including canning lids, paint stir sticks, plastic electrical wall plates, elastic bands, and pieces of wood.

Scarves to be overdyed
Scarves to be over over dyed

I had a few scarves that I had dyed but wasn’t happy with the way they turned out. Two of them were rayon but they didn’t absorb the dye very well and turned out very pastel. The green in the lower right was dip dyed in green and yellow dye baths but the result was not very interesting. The shawl on the left was dip dyed in blue and it was boring as well. All of these were destined to be re-dyed. I am looking forward to seeing the results.

Indigo bundles and fabric drying
Indigo bundles and fabric drying

It was a beautiful, sunny warm day and I set my work area outside. The drying rack is loaded with some of the dyeing.

Indigo yardage
Indigo yardage

I hung some of the fabrics from some low hanging branches in between dips.

Indigo yardage and overdyed scarf
Indigo yardage and over dyed scarf

The cotton yardage is still wet in the photo above and is darker than when it is dry. The green strip is one of the scarves I over dyed. It already looks much better than before!

Indigo scarves and yardage
Indigo scarves and yardage

I wanted to speed up the oxidation and drying process, so I carefully unfolded some of the clamped pieces and suspended them from low hanging branches. I am still waiting for some of the wrapped arashi shibori pieces to dry.

Indigo arashi cotton fabric
Indigo arashi cotton fabric

Last night I carefully unwrapped the damp fabric from one of the pvc pipes. I love the texture of cotton. I hope that the deep blue colour remains after it is washed. There are still a few pieces I haven’t unfolded, maybe next week.

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