Wednesday, 14 December 2011


  'Fil' linen sheets are the good common linen sheets that were in every-day use in France right up to the invention of nylon, polyester and polycotton.  'Fil' is usually coarser than percale (fine cotton) and a sturdy material with slight ridges and uneveness when it has been hand-spun and woven on narrow wooden looms, mostly 19C.  It is just off-white and feels cooler than cotton.  It is quite heavy to wash and iron but can be boiled, washed and hung on a line or dried in the old fashioned way flat on the grass in sunshine - the more it is washed the tighter the weave interlocks with itself.  It needs a hot iron to press or can be simply folded while very slightly damp with others piled on top and it comes out pretty well; if you can get someone to hold two corners and you have two and you pull against each other, this is the trad. way to get the edges and corners aligned when you fold.  There are usually a pair of initials in red cotton cross-stitch in one corner - not very large, but if  in the centre, then it is likely the sheet has been 'side to middled' for longer wear.  If, however, there is a large pair of initials, each side of the centre seam (which is quite usual because of the narrow loom widths) then you can be sure the two sides have not been reversed, so you need to check the two outer sides for wear.  The initials vary a lot - some people make a feature of them on cushions and curtains, others remove them if the sheets are very long  and make them up into patchwork, etc.   Most dealers add a little to the price if they are elaborate - but if they are rather amateur it may detract from the value and you can say so to the seller!  The very best initials (see example below) are usually early 20th. C  and more expensive.  The most usual fault with these heavy linen sheets is that they have been stained with fold marks while lying on old chestnut shelves which mark them and these are quite difficult to remove - I do not recommend bleach. but a lot of washing will make them fade.

Top quality embroidered initials, showing fine centre seam.SOLD

Professional work with many different stitches. SOLD.

Prices will be between £50 - £150 depending on size, condition and how elaborate and expert the embroidery is. Check that the width is enough for your bed - French beds are much narrower than ours and I would not buy one under 6ft wide.

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