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Collecting Antique Textiles and Linens

It may come as a surprise to some, but there are people who are heavily invested in collecting antique textiles, linens and fabrics. Yes, they may be old, but they hold value because of the craftsmanship and the scarcity of the materials used on the items. Some people search for antique fabrics because they are designers who want to use them for one-of-a-kind designs, while others use the fabric to create items in their homes for their personal use.

What's So Special About Antique Textiles?

The reason why antique linens and textiles are in demand is because the designs they have do not exist anymore or they are not being produced. These textiles were made by people decades ago. Here are some examples of antique textiles:

  • Linen Tablecloth: These were used for meals and tea time. Embroidered tablecloths are sometimes used for decor only.
  • Vintage Tapestry Cushion Covers: The value of these types of antique fabrics are in the craftsmanship.
  • Crocheted Tablecloths: These were commonly used for decor and special occasions.
  • Machine-Made Lace Crochet Fabric: These are a bit modern, but still created decades ago.
  • Doilies: These are simply accoutrements to table settings.
  • Vintage Lace Collections: These are still used to this day by fashion designers.

How Are Antique Textiles Designed and Decorated?

If you notice the examples, the textiles are mostly made of linen, but some are also made from other materials such as cotton, lace, silk and more. What makes them different is that they are handmade or machine-made with designs dating back to the 19th century. For example:

  • Many of the antique textile designs are made to be used as vintage tablecloths, table linens, cloth napkins, doilies and more.
  • The handmade embroidery makes these textiles special because they were created a long time ago.
  • Some laces are also handmade, which is a craft on its own.
  • Others are quilts made from fabric that cannot be found anywhere.
  • Many of the linens and textiles have a history.
  • Because of their mint conditions, they are valued more because of the care given by its original owners.

How to Care for Your Antique Textiles

Rather than putting them in a closet and letting the moths have a go at them, it is best to store your antique fabrics properly. You must also clean them regularly because dirt and mildew can accumulate, which will eventually ruin the fabric. Here are some tips on how to keep your antique textiles looking brand new:

  • According to the Smithsonian Institute, you should store your antique textiles in a clean, dry, cool and dark place.
  • The are should be free from any drastic changes in temperature and humidity. An airtight box or case will do.
  • Colourfast textiles should be washed and stored without ironing or starching.
  • Try to store the textiles without folding them to retain their shape and avoid becoming rigid.
  • Fragile fabrics like lace should be rolled over cloth-covered tubes to avoid creasing.
  • Keep the textiles away from sunlight and harsh lighting to prevent discolouration and degradation.
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