Wednesday, 24 September 2014


An extra large fine linen sheet embroidered and decorated with fine hand-made lace
   These are all names for the finest linen and cotton fabrics., so fine they are transparent and gauzy. I have yet to see batiste sheets - I know they were woven for the grandest beds but maybe they are so delicate that they did not survive for long! In France last year I saw a fabulous sheet with a huge monogram A, a large crown and lots of exquisite floral embroidery which was a mix of silk and linen fabric - it felt wonderful to touch and had a lovely silky sheen - over 1000 Euros to buy!  I saw it again at two later fairs so maybe the price was a bit too high! 
    Nowadays most French housewives opt for poly-cotton and other easy care fabrics for their beds and the heavy old linen and hemp hand-woven sheets are consigned to the attics and many are simply burnt - the French have only recently opened charity shops (Emmaus depots often open on a Saturday for sales in the yards and sheds which they occupy). Emmaus was inspired by the Abbe Pierre who took over large run-down houses to house needy people, called compagnons, who were expected to contribute working skills to restore donated furniture and other goods which they then sold to the public on certain open days. Quite a good source of bargains! They sometimes have piles of old stuff but the local dealers probably get the cream!
  During the last war the farmers in France were restricted in the amount of flax and hemp they were allowed to grow, so people gathered thistles, nettles and broom to mix in and convert into woven cloths - those with broom are a lovely pale golden shade and extremely soft to touch.  All these plants have long fibres in their stalks which can be mixed in with the flax and cotton.  I only ever had a few and they were picked out immediately.

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