Vintage Linens

I have a confession to make.

I have a weakness for vintage linens. If I had my way I would drape the house floor to ceiling with embroidered and crocheted flowery lacy stuff. And then Harland would move out.

Seriously though, I’ve never been much of a collector of things. But when we visit antique stores, I gravitate to the vintage linens. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled dresser scarves yearning to go home with me.

Here’s my collection that I started about 6 years ago:

This is the dresser scarf that started it all. It was on the antique dresser in Harland’s bathroom when I met him. It was made by a member of his family, but I don’t think he knows who. Love the deep crocheted edging.



I fell in love with it, so I started buying some more.

This dresser scarf has a combination of both embroidery and cross-stitch:



This one is embroidered flowers. Look close and see there are 2 different shades of the same color for each flower:


Love the bold colors of the flowers:


Must have taken a long time to crochet the delicate edge. I can imagine a farm wife siting next to the wood stove on a cold January evening.


She listens to the wind swirling about her house as she leans near an oil lamp and completes another round of crochet.

This one with the basket is unusual. Most of them have a grouping of flowers, but the basket is a bonus I don’t often see.



This one is more subtle- no color, just white on white. Very elegant.


Embroidery, and an edge I can’t identify. I know it’s not crochet as crocheting is the only needlework I can do.  Is it tatting? Here’s a close up of the side edge:


Anyone know? (It’s TATTING. Thanks Rural TN!)

Here’s another one. Embroidered with a crochet edge. I like the dotted lines going back and forth. Different.


This is another white-on-white embroidery. This one has crocheted inserts and edging.



Here’s a simple round white tablecloth with a  deep crocheted edge. Wonder how long it took to complete this one?


And here’s a simple white dresser scarf with a deep crocheted edge.


And the last one of my collection (for now) is one of my favorites. Just love the wild spray of flowers going in every direction:


Don’t know how old any of these are. And I feel sad that they made it to a an antique store in the first place. Didn’t any family members want what their mother/grandmother/sister/aunt had worked so hard on?  At any rate, they have a good home with me now. They all take turns being put on display on the dresser or tables in our home.

As an aside, I took these pictures while I was ironing my collection. Of course, I was closely supervised, as usual.



At our home, if you feel like you’re being watched, you probably are.


Harland and I just got back last night from a two week vacation. On August 25, we hopped on the Amtrak (for the first time and loved it!) from Kansas City and rode it all the way to Rochester, NY. From there we rented a car and drove through upstate NY, Vermont, New Hampshire, and finally Maine. We even escaped across the border and visited Campobello Island in Canada. We didn’t have a schedule and hadn’t reserved any lodging. We just drove every day seeing what there was to see and stopping for the night when we got tired. We ate fresh seafood, drove on narrow bending country roads, visited waterfalls and clear lakes, drove up a mountain on the scariest road we’ve ever seen, and stood on the coast overwhelmed by the foaming waves crashing on the rocks. We slept in our own little room on the train, little motels, and a tiny cabin in the Maine woods.

We didn’t want to come home.

But last night about midnight, we carried our luggage into our little house to be greeted by a VERY happy Kitty.

Today has been spent unpacking, doing laundry, grocery shopping, and I hope to take a nap here shortly. It’s good to be home.

I have about 800 pics to sort through and hours of video too. Will share with you this week.



Cattle, corn, wheat, beans, mud, snow, ice, and drought. Plenty of fresh air and quiet. Our life is sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes joyous, but never boring.

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19 Responses

  1. Rural TN says:

    Those are beautiful, Suzanne. I, too, love old linens and quilts and wonder why no family members wanted to keep them. The edging you had a question about is tatting. I learned to tat years ago from an 80 yr. old woman. She was skilled in many things and was an expert horse woman. She also graduated from Vanderbilt in Nashville TN. Glad someone has the antique linens who cares about them.

  2. Kathy Swiger says:

    I have my grandmother’s and some of my hubby’s crochet table runners and such.:)

  3. I love all your beautifully embroidered and crocheted linens. Like you, I wonder how anyone could have ever parted with them in the first place. Obviously took hours and days and months for someone to make. Luckily, people like you and me find them and give them a good home again. Sounds like your vacation was just perfect.

  4. Carol says:

    I love your collection of linens Suzanne. Sounds like a real vacation, how wonderful for the two of you! How did you like New England?

  5. Sharon Thompson says:

    WhaT A Precious Treasure You Have Here, With Many Stories To Be Told. I Also Love Old Doilies,Linens, And Such.

  6. Dianna says:

    You have a beautiful vintage linen collection! I have a few pieces, handed down in the family. Love that kitty supervises you…they’re good at that!
    So nice that you had a good vacation, and I know Kitty missed you terribly.

  7. Sharon Hutchinson says:

    I love old linens, and have collected them for years. It makes me sad when I go to an auction, and find boxes of linens that no one in the family wanted. It also makes me happy when I am able to bring them home with me, and restore them to their original beauty.
    And yes, it is a tatted edging. The pieces with the crochet inserts also have satin stitch flowers and leaves. Beautiful!

  8. Sandy says:

    Your vintage linens are beautiful. I love them too and collect them when I find them affordable. Sounds like you had a great vacation and I look forward in hearing more about it and. Seeing some photos too.

  9. Becca says:

    What a beautiful collection! And like you I too wonder why no family member wanted to give these beauties a home. I am inspired to start my own collection! The detail work is just amazing….such patience and labor of love.
    I love your blog and can’t wait to see more of your trip. The private train car sounded like such fun! And I really like the idea of a road trip with no plans! And how about that Kitty…what did she do with her time while you were away?
    Florida hugs,

  10. Laura says:

    Thanks for sharing, love it!

  11. Lynda M O says:

    Suzanne, what a fun trip it sounds like you all had. I love to just take off like that with no real solid reservations and a lot of eyeball candy to fill our hearts and memory banks for later. Eagerly looking forward to seeing your pics of the glory of New England and its surrounds. Traveling by train with a compartment is such a fun and interesting way to travel. I did Orlando-Berkeley in March 2000 and loved every single minute of the 75-hour trip.

    Your collection of embroidered linens delights the senses: feel so soft I bet after these many years of use and care; look delightful; likely have a soothing “Grandmother’s house” kind of scent to them… Beautiful and so glad they will be enjoyed by you and that adorable Kitty.

    Linen-only recently beginning to appreciate the fineness of real linen, made from flax, I have set out on a journey to find it, buy it cheaply in the form of “dollar rack” pants and shirts, bring it home and repurpose it into quilts and towels and face cloths for my home. Eventually i plan to be rid of cotton towels and sheets entirely and only use real flax-linen fabrics for skin-touching applications.

  12. Lorraine says:

    The vintage linens are beautiful. I have an embroidered table cloth from my grandmother to my mother then to me. No one else wanted it. The crocheting is just beautiful. A little difficult to iron. Starch is your friend. Some of the smaller pieces look nice framed and hung on walls. Just an idea.

    Your trip to Maine sounded very nice. Riding the rails and traveling with no specific destination. That is the way to go.

    I think Kitty was taking mental notes so she may help in the future.
    Take care.

  13. Jeanne says:

    Welcome back! So glad you had such a wonderful time. I’m anxiously waiting for the pictures and learning about all you saw and experienced! Who took care of Kitty?

    I, too, love old linens, and have a collection of them. Most of mine have been handed down from my mother and other ancestors. I do have a few that I’ve purchased because they were just so beautiful! Some of those you have look like they may be from the 1940s-50s.

    I learned to tat about 40 years ago, but haven’t done much of it recently. To me, it’s one of the most beautiful of the hand-made laces.

    Again – I’m SO glad I found your blog! It’s such fun, and by far the best one I’ve seen!!

  14. Rhonda Mills says:

    Suzanne, what a lovely blog post! Whenever we visit an antique shop, I am always drawn to the vintage linens. Enjoyed reading your post. And, seeing that y’all had one fabulous time roving the northeast! Btw, you probably know this, but Backpacker Magazine includes The Pasture at Tallgrass in its recent Top 50 Views in America article. Have got to make it out there, sooner than later!

  15. Lisa says:

    about 10 or 15 years ago, vests were in style. My mother-in-law took a lot of the vintage linens that she had from relatives and made vests for me and for my two sister-in-laws. Even though vests aren’t in style and I don’t wear it anymore, I will always keep it in my closet because it is beautiful! Also, I am going to search your blog for the posts about Kitty . . .when kitty was sick. Our very old man kitty cat, SNUG (short for snuggles – daughter named him) has been so sick and we thought the vet was going to put him down on Saturday . . .we cried lots of tears but she decided he might still have some life in him. We have seen small amounts of improvement every day.

    • Suzanne says:

      My heart goes out to you Lisa. I hope and pray that your Snug will continue to improve. It took several weeks for Kitty to fully recover from her sinus infection. There were a few days there when we thought she may not make it she was so sick and I couldn’t imagine our lives without our little furball of trouble.
      Prayers to you and Snug,

  16. JB says:

    What beautiful linens! Haven’t heard the term “dresser scarf” for many a year. My mom had a dresser scarf very similar to the basket and flowers one. A friend had made it for her as a birthday gift….about 1945 to 1950. My sister is the keeper of the treasures as my husband doesn’t like them at all!

  17. I share your love of vintage linens. I’ve been slowly trying to add them all to a website so they can be loved by others, too. I think it’s one of the reasons I love touring homes so much – you can see them in use.

  18. Jane says:

    I am helping a gentleman which has moved into a care home to be with his wife. Over the years they collected a massive amount of antique linens. I am trying to find individuals interested in purchasing it.

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